Pickleball is on the rise in Montgomery, Alabama

Photo courtesy of YMCA of Greater Montgomery.

By Brionna McCall, Intern

Pickleball is gaining popularity in Montgomery, Alabama, and it is on its way to be an even bigger sport in the near future.

The tennis-like sport was invented in 1965 by three dads— Bill Bell, Barney McCallum, and Joel Pritchard. They decided to create the game because their children were bored with the typical summer activities they usually play.

Brandon Mackie, the co-founder of Pickleheads, a website that covers all things pickleball, says the sport is a cross between tennis, ping pong and badminton.

“If you’re coming from racket sports like tennis or ping pong, you’re going to pick up the sport quite easily,” he said. “It’s a really easy sport to learn, and anybody can try it for the first time and have fun playing it.”

Pickleheads was created because Mackie had fallen in love with the sport and switched from playing tennis to pickleball. He had challenges finding courts to play at and people to play with.

According to Mackie, the sport was long-time coming, but he believes the pandemic was a significant driver of the pickleball growth in Montgomery.

“Places such as the gym and restaurants were all closed for some time, and pickleball became an outlet for a lot of people to exercise and socialize outdoors responsibly,” he said. “Now there’s a lot of great programs in the local area that supports the sport. There’s a continuity of growth even past the pandemic.”

There are pickleball courts located in the YMCA of Greater Montgomery Downtown and the Lagoon Park Tennis Center.

Mackie predicts that pickleball will be a core part of physical education in Montgomery Public Schools.

“One day, we may even see a Montgomery native in the Olympics playing pickleball,” he said.

Anyone who wants to learn more about pickleball and how to play can go to Pickleheads.com/learn. The website provides a virtual clinic and people can learn all the elements of the game in 15 minutes.

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