Pickleball taking EL by storm

Pickleball, a hybrid sport that draws from badminton, tennis and ping-pong, among others, is a growing phenomenon across the world and this year it’s coming to East London

Stephen Hammond is the ambassador of the South African Pickleball Association in the Eastern Cape and on January 27, he will be hosting a local launch of the sport at the Gonubie Sports Club.

He is currently training to become one of the first certified pickleball coaches in the country.

Hammond discovered pickleball during Covid-19 and fell immediately in love with it.

At its simplest, pickleball entails volleying a plastic ball using short handled paddles over a low net.

The game can be played in pairs on a level court, either indoors or outdoors and the point is for pairs or individuals to score points and win sets faster than the opponents.

The main objective is to keep the ball in play.

Hammond said that pickleball is an ideal sport to introduce to the city because its implement is low cost and its benefits will feed into more traditional sporting codes.

He said “The plan this year is to launch pickleball among pre-schoolers and junior level schoolers to develop hand-eye co-ordination skills. I have liaised with local coaches in tennis and badminton to teach the young ones pickleball to develop their basic skills to a level at which they are ready to play sports such as tennis and so forth.

“We are seriously trying to rebuild Border tennis because there is such a huge gap within the junior tennis division.

“There is a huge difference between pickleball and paddleball because paddleball is played at a very fast pace and resembles tennis.

“Pickleball is designed to be played by anyone, including young children and older people.

“The ball is perforated and so can be hit with less strain than a tennis ball and the paddle is lightweight so it can be managed by anyone irrespective of age.

“Bowling amongst older people is very popular in East London but isn’t for everyone. I feel that we were lacking options for sport that older people who used to play tennis and squash can do now.

“I believe pickleball is the best alternative as it’s not heavy on the body but you do get a good workout and its good for cardio even just for half an hour.”

The Gonubie Sports Club pickleball launch will run from 2pm onwards and the day includes friendly games, tutorials and equipment and court space available for use as well as live music by Peter Nel. Contact: 076-571-8730 for more information

NEW SPORT: Pickleball is played with a lightweight paddle and a perforated ball as seen here which makes it easier on the body. Picture: SUPPLIED


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