Pickleball Provides Social & Physical Health Benefits

When Nanette Bates first started playing pickleball at the Gothenburg YMCA two years ago, she had never played the sport before.

“I enjoy many kinds of sports and the way director Julie Czochara described pickleball, I thought it sounded like fun,” she said.

So, she started playing and has loved it ever since.

Gothenburg now has seven “regulars” playing pickleball Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings between 8:30 a.m. and noon.

“My favorite thing about pickleball is the fun I have with all the regular members,” she said. “We have become good friends.”

Pickleball is a growing sport in the United States. The game combines elements of badminton, ping pong and tennis. Two to four players play with square paddles, a small plastic ball with holes (similar to a wiffle ball) and a low net. The court is one-fourth the size of a tennis court.

Nanette said anyone can play pickleball, but it is good to have some hand-eye coordination plus some experience in tennis or ping pong.

The Gothenburg regular pickleball players range in age from 45-77. The sport has helped Nanette, 69, stay active.

“Pickleball has made my retirement years enjoyable, and I feel like I am physically fit,” she said.

Besides pickleball, she also swims at the YMCA, walks on the indoor track and exercises on various cardio machines.

Nanette said newcomers are always welcome, and the YMCA has extra paddles and balls available so no equipment purchases are needed.

Pickleball is also played at the Orthman Community YMCA in Lexington (Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m.) and at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA in Holdrege (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9-11 a.m.). Holdrege also offers an evening doubles pickleball league, and the next session begins in February.

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