How to Play Pickleball, One of North America’s Fastest-Growing Sports, in Calgary

While the name may sound silly, pickleball’s explosion in popularity is anything but. Here’s everything you need to know about getting started in Calgary.

Pickleball equipment. Photograph by Brendan Sapp/Unsplash.

Pickleball has grown a huge following over the past few years and is known as an easy-to-pick-up, fun-to-play sport for people of every age. This racket sport is a variation on sports like tennis and badminton; it’s slow enough to be considered a low-impact sport, yet technical enough to be competitive at high levels. Because of its wide appeal, pickleball has become one of the fastest-growing sports in North America today, with professional and amateur leagues, as well as dedicated courts, popping up all over. Plus, major sports icons like Kevin Durant and Lebron James buying into professional pickleball leagues doesn’t hurt, either.

In Calgary, organizations like the Calgary Pickleball Club (CPC) have launched with the aim of helping people get into the sport and advocating for more facilities to play in. If you’re interested in trying it for yourself, here’s a look at how to start playing pickleball in Calgary.


How to Play Pickleball

Pickleball is similar to tennis, with the biggest difference being that pickleball is played with plastic paddles and a wiffle-like ball, instead of a traditional racket and rubber tennis ball. The idea, however, is the same — players take turns hitting the ball back and forth over the net (located in the middle of the court), with the aim of landing the ball inside the court without the other player returning it.

Pickleball can be played singles or doubles, with co-ed play being a large part of the everyone-can-play nature of the game. Other rules enforcing the fun-for-all aspect of pickleball are put in place to “even the playing-field” (pardon the pun). For example, the centre court “kitchen” area is an underhand-return zone only, lengthening the rally times and making the game more fun.

Despite its similarity to tennis, there are more rules in place to keep pickleball accessible. Full rules can be found here.


Where to Play Pickleball in Calgary

One of the challenges with pickleball being a newly growing sport is that there is a lack of dedicated courts. So, CPC has organized meetups at rotating indoor and outdoor tennis courts around the city for CPC members. The organization has also created the Calgary Pickleball Complex Foundation, which is currently working on developing a pickleball facility in the city with 12 dedicated indoor courts.

Many community associations now have pickleball courts, as do public centres like Pickledome, Smash City, Prolific Sports House and Rally Pointe (see CPC’s list of public indoor courts). Pricing and times vary at each court.

If you’ve never played pickleball, CPC offers a free introductory course for new members, as well as plenty of beginner and intermediate coaching. It also hosts tournaments year round for more competitive players.


Where to Buy or Rent Equipment

One of the reasons pickleball has exploded in popularity is because the equipment is cost-effective. Paddles can be purchased relatively cheaply; prices start at around $100 at pickleball-centric Pickleball Connect, and most other sporting goods stores. You will also need balls, which you can pick up for around $10 for a pack of three. Besides that, getting started only requires a sturdy pair of shoes and a good attitude.

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