By Phil Gardner
What began on the West Coast has found its way to the Florida Panhandle and the Emerald Coast. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in North America, and the popularity of the racquet sport is making an impact on our community.
Destin has become the Pickleball Mecca of the Panhandle for players of all levels. It is attracting scores of visitors—as well as new residents—to our community. In addition to our many local Pickleball addicts, we enjoy the steady attendance of friendly players from Panama City, Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Tallahassee.
During the summer vacation season, our local Pickleball enthusiasts are delighted for the continuous rotation of quality players from all over the southeast. With the arrival of the Snowbirds, the number of players swells, resulting in a need for additional venues for playing. It’s added another feather to our cap for reasons people love to visit our community.
Pickleball is a cross between tennis, ping-pong and badminton. It’s most often played in two teams of doubles but can be played as singles. The game is played on a badminton-sized court over a net similar to those in tennis. A whiffle ball is propelled by solid paddles over the net.
The game has some unusual rules that encourage adept players to use finesse during play to gain an advantage. Pickleball is an action game that can be enjoyed by beginners and masters. It teaches coordination and exercises reaction and mobility. Players learn quickly that positioning on the small court is paramount to mastering the game. An aspect that all players can confirm is that mastery of the game is an evolving journey.
Pickleball players share a love of the game and are friendly on and off the court. New players can count on being welcomed and receiving lots of help in learning the basics. For those interested in learning the game or joining in some competitive play, schedules may be found on the Emerald Coast Pickleball Club Facebook page and at the Destin Community Center website. Typically, there is organized play happening here six days a week.
WHERE TO PLAY
Destin Community Center
Three indoor courts.
Destin United Methodist Church Life Center
Four indoor courts.