Northeast Tarrant

Pick up a paddle for some pickleball

A game of pickleball at the Bedford Boys Ranch Activity Center.
A game of pickleball at the Bedford Boys Ranch Activity Center. Courtesy photo

Funny name. Fun sport.

Pickleball has come to the H-E-B area.

Pickleball is a paddle sport for all ages. It combines elements of tennis, badminton and pingpong. It is played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-size court with a slightly modified tennis net using a paddle and a plastic ball.

And it’s catching on. The Bedford Parks and Recreation Department now offers the sport, and the response has been strong.

“We started with a small group of four players on one court. After about a month, we had grown to 20 players sharing three courts,” Bedford recreation programs coordinator Chris Chastain said. “The players really like playing at our facility, and we love having them here.

“It is common to have one of our regular members ask about the game when they see it being played in the gym. After explaining pickleball to them, we will actually see them joining in to play the next week. It has been very contagious, in the best of ways.”

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington on a short ferry ride from Seattle. Three dads, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, came up with the idea to entertain their three bored children.

As to where the name came from, there are several stories. Among the most acceptable is that it was named after Pritchard’s dog Pickles, who would chase the ball and run off with it.

It has grown internationally with courts in Europe and Asia, along with Canada. In the United States, according to the USA Pickleball Association, there are nearly 13,000 indoor and outdoor courts, with at least one court in all 50 states.

“Pickleball offers a lot of benefits to those playing that other sports may not offer,” Chastain said. “At the Boys Ranch Activity Center we offer indoor courts, so weather is also never an issue for us. It also gives people an opportunity to be competitive and get their energy up.

“The equipment plays slower than similar games such as tennis or pingpong, so it is easy for anyone to get started. However, take a look at our advanced players and you will see that pickleball can still be just as intense as any other sport available.”

There’s no official uniform for playing pickleball. In fact, players often wear athletic shorts, sweatpants, T-shirts or tennis-style dresses. Comfortable tennis shoes are recommended, however.

But the best thing about pickleball, Chastain said, is the socializing.

“Part of the reason is that pickleball has a smaller playing court than other games. It is easy to talk to people during a game, or while waiting for a court to open up,” he said.

Chastain said the hope is to add clinics, classes and even tournaments in the near future.

For more information about pickleball in Bedford, contact Chastain at 817-952-2307 or For more information about the sport, visit


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