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Pickleball gaining popularity
slt pickleball main 2019
Shannon Schartz, center, explains the basics of pickleball, Wednesday at the GBRC Activity Center. With interest in pickleball growing, the Great Bend Recreation Commission is offering many opportunities to play. - photo by Susan Thacker

A growing number of Barton County residents are picking up Pickleball. For those who want to know more about this popular pursuit, Debbine Munz offered a program Wednesday at the Great Recreation Commission Activity Center.

While some had played the game before, many came to learn “What is Pickleball?”, which was also the title of the program. Shannon Schartz assisted Munz in answering the question.

“Pickleball is kind of a combination of ping pong, badminton and tennis,” Munz said. The game is played on a smaller court than tennis – 44 by 20 feet compared to 78 by 27 feet for tennis – with a paddle and a whiffle ball. The net that extends across the court is only 36 inches high.

“The rules are real simple,” Munz said. “It’s a lot like tennis but so much easier.”

Actually, it has its own scoring system and lingo. Schartz explained that players needs stay out of the “kitchen” when they return a volley. But in spite of terms like “rallies” and “dinks,” the game is fairly easy to learn.

The Rec Commission has offered pickleball before as an activity for senior citizens but its return to the activities roster this year is creating a lot of interest. In recent years, it has become one of the fastest-growing recreational sports in North America. The game has had a 650% increase in numbers in the last six years, according to the USA Pickleball Association. That comes to 2.8 million players in the United States, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s 2017 report.

With courts being set up at rec centers and parks across the nation, including Bicentennial Park in Hoisington, the game is now finding fans of all ages.

Munz said 21 people have gotten involved in her first introductory classes. On Friday nights when the Activity Center is available for pickleball, people are able to play on beginner courts or advanced level courts. Other players are getting together on the weekends, she said.

Selkirk Sports sells pickleball gear, including paddles that range in price from $60 to $150. But learning to play pickleball isn’t expensive at all Munz said. The Rec Commission has paddles that people can check out for free for drop-in games and clinics being offered regularly at the City Auditorium and the Activity Center. All that is really needed is a pair of tennis shoes to wear on the court.

Pickleball Zone

Great Bend Rec will host its “first annual” pickleball tournament Nov. 2-3. The registration fee is $30 but those who register by Sunday, Oct. 13, can save $5. People can register Friday at the GBRC office or online at

Beginner Pickleball Clinics are being offered at the City Auditorium from 9-11 a.m. on Oct. 15 and 16, and at the GB Rec Activity Center from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 23, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11.

Drop-in pickleball is offered at the City Auditorium from 8-11 a.m. Monday through Friday; and Sundays from 1-5 p.m., through Nov. 5. Drop-in pickleball will be offered from 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays at the GBRC Activity Center on designated dates. Some Friday night court times are also available at the Activity Center. Call 793-3755 for more information.