What is pickleball—and why is LeBron James betting on it?

cCelebrities making big bets on sports teams are hardly new: Ryan Reynolds co-owns Wrexham Association Football Club, Eva Longoria has a stake in the Necaxa Soccer Club, and Will Ferrell is an investor in the Los Angeles FC soccer team. But if you can guess which sports NBA player LeBron James will trust with his luck, you might no Originally thought of pickleball (even if is America’s fastest growing sport).

This week, Major League Pickleball (MLP) announced that James is among its latest group of investors. The Lakers star will own the team along with business partner Maverick Carter as well as Draymond Green and Kevin Love (two other NBA players). According to MLP, the group has enjoyed playing together for several years and sees tremendous potential in the growth of the sport.

“When I started playing pickleball, I immediately connected with the community of the sport and its ability to be both fun and competitive,” Carter said in a CNBC interview. “It’s really exciting to see the sport growing everywhere in the community, and we look forward to combining our skills to try to build a championship team.”

While the group has yet to reveal a name for their team, MLP founder Steve Kuhn says investments like James’ will help the game grow to nearly 40 million pickleball players by 2030. So if you’re in the mood for pickleball, now is the time to get America’s new favorite pastime. Below, Lifetime’s National Pickleable Director David Dutrieuil shares the history of the game, its basic rules, and other essential information.

So, what are pickleballs?

Here’s the deal: A pickleball court is the size of a badminton court (20 feet by 44 feet), so it’s easy, but not simple, to wander between. “If you can picture tennis, you can picture pickleball,” says Dutrieuil.

Like tennis, pickleball starts with a serve. “The ball is served diagonally (starting with the right-hand service-square), and points can only be scored by the side that serves — just like in tennis,” says Dutrieuil. “Players on each side must bounce the ball once before volleys are allowed, and each side of the net has a seven-foot no-volley zone called the kitchen to prevent ‘spiking’.”

The server continues to serve alternately on the court (left and right), until he or she commits an error (does not serve or violates the rules). Be the first team to reach 11 with a lead of at least two points. If this sounds a bit complicated in writing, don’t worry—it’s one of those games you’ll pick up quickly IRL.

Who invented pickleball?

Many sports have an iconic origin story—and Pickleball’s story is better than most. “One summer afternoon in 1965, at a family cabin on Bainbridge Island, Washington, Frank Pritchard and his young friends were bored,” says Dutreville. “So, Frank’s father—the late U.S. Congressman, Joel Pritchard—and some of his friends invented a new game for the kids to play. They set down a net on an asphalt badminton court, grabbed two wooden paddles and a neighbor’s plastic Wiffle ball. , a few in flight. Creates rules and creates a game that’s fast and fun, but easy to play for adults and kids of all ages.”

Two years later, Joel Pritchard built the first permanent pickleball court in a neighbor’s backyard, and shortly thereafter, the game became popular throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Health Benefits of Pickleballs

In Pickleball, you move back and forth as well as back and forth (later) at a fast clip. This type of varied movement is called multiplanar training and is great for injury prevention because you’re basically teaching your body to move in different ways. “Research has shown that multidirectional movement improves the body’s connection between the brain and muscles, improves neural function over time, improves firing patterns, and allows for larger and more powerful muscle contractions,” Juniper Sykes, certified personal trainer and founder of FitForceFX, previously said. Well+good happened.

And that’s not all: According to Dutrieuil, pickleball has more to offer:

  • Pickleballs are great for your heart: “Research Demonstration pickleball May lead to improved blood pressure and cardiorespiratory fitness. It offers aerobic exercise, allowing players to move around the court at any level of intensity,” said Dutrieuil.
  • Pickleballs are relatively low-impact: “from pickleball Slower than tennis, it’s easier on the joints, while also improving balance, coordination and agility,” says Dutrieuil. “This makes it a great choice for those with past injuries or former tennis players looking to play. for a gentler alternative.”
  • Pickleball can help you build community by: “More than anything, pickleball A social game…and it’s no secret that strong social connections improve our quality of life and can increase our lifespan,” said Dutrieuil.

Why did pickleball come to be? thing Over the past few years?

Dutrieuille attributes the growing interest in pickles to a few key factors—the first of which is the epidemic. “The pandemic, in many ways, has encouraged pickleballIts growth was when everything was closed and people were concerned about social distancing,” he said. “In fact, pickleball According to the Sport and Fitness Industry Association, participation is up more than 21 percent in 2020.”

The nature of the game has also contributed to its popularity: it’s fun, the rules are simple, and it gives people a chance to be competitive. “Pickleball can be a game that you keep improving and play in leagues and tournaments quickly,” said Dutrieuil. “We’re seeing it explode among our clubs and starting our own. There are pro pickleball Players now who only started playing a year ago. Looks nice.”

What to know before your first game of pickleball

So you’re curious about America’s fastest growing sport? Dutrieuille says to give it a shot. “The name itself will put your mind at ease – it’s a fun game from the start,” he says. “And, because it’s an easy game to learn, you’ll have fun the moment you step on the court.”

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