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  • Writer's pictureWellbeing Exeter

Pickleball (Nothing to do with Pickles!)

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

The first time the CPAOs (Community Physical Activity Organisers) heard about Pickleball was at a listening event at Central Library when a couple stopped to tell us about this amazing game they had discovered when on holiday in Florida. They were now playing with a small but avid group they had started in Kennford and said there was interest from Exeter residents but unfortunately, they did not have capacity to host any more players at their sessions.

So, what is Pickleball? The game, usually played as doubles, uses paddles, a perforated plastic ball and a low net. Think table tennis on a badminton court. The slower speed of the plastic ball and the smaller court make Pickleball ideal for those who find other racket sports too strenuous, but the game can also be played to the highest level. In the USA, where it originated, Pickleball is now a professional sport.

Keen to give Exeter residents a chance to play, the Kennford Pickleballers offered to provide equipment and coaching for some tasters. With my help to hire a venue and advertise we ran two sessions, one evening and one weekend, at Riverside Leisure Centre. Both sessions were popular with over 20 people giving Pickleball a go at each and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive with almost everyone wanting to play again.

To support the desire to keep playing, the Kennford Pickleballers agreed to help with two more tasters this time held at Wonford Sports Centre. These extra sessions also allowed another half dozen residents a chance to try the game. Off the back of the tasters, I helped to start a WhatsApp group for booking casual Pickleball play in Exeter and in no time about a dozen residents had bought their own paddles and were arranging games with each other.

The WhatsApp has now grown to 50 residents and from it a core of 4 keen players have got together to start developing an Exeter Pickleball Club. They hope to hold two to three public indoor sessions a week across Exeter and get some outdoor Pickleball courts marked out in a city park. The CPAOs are continuing to support them with the growth of the game in Exeter and have most recently introduced them to Live & Move as a potential source of funding. Make no mistake, Pickleball has arrived! #pickleball #sport

Wat Tyler House

3 King William Street, Exeter


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