The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

    Pickleball: it’s not just for old people

    OPRF students prepare for an intense pickleball tournament

    Since the 2020 lockdown, pickleball has been sweeping the nation. While it was formerly all the rage in nursing homes and retirement communities throughout Arizona and Florida, it’s starting to attract a much younger crowd. The game is simple: individual players or teams of two face off in what is essentially a bigger version of ping pong. The games go to 11 points, but you can only score if you win a rally on your own serve. Here are five good reasons for you to give it a try.

    1. It’s cheaper than therapy.

    High school can be stressful. With exams, after-school activities and piles of homework, pickleball can serve as time to take care of yourself. You might think you need to get a spa treatment, take a vacation or go on a shopping spree. However, there is a much cheaper alternative at your disposal: a $30 pickleball paddle. According to a study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “depressive symptoms are 60% lower among frequent pickleball players.” While the pickleball courts might not be the end-all be-all for your mental well being, they can certainly boost your mood by allowing you to release endorphins in a judgment-free environment. Just grab a paddle and start dinking!

    2. No strings attached.

    Just like the string-less surface of a pickleball paddle, this sport is easy to pick up, with little to no commitment. You can play a spontaneous game in Taylor Park, the Community Recreation Center, FFC Oak Park, or even join Oak Park and River Forest High School’s pickleball club, held on Friday mornings in the fieldhouse. Pickleball is perfect for all levels: the athletic and unathletic alike. Anyone can challenge anyone, and experience does not always guarantee success. I have seen many seasoned players get swept by total novices, a truly beautiful sight. Pickleball does not discriminate; everyone has a fair shot. If 90 year old men can play, you can too!

    3. Dill-ightful company.

    “It’s just a great way to spend time with my friends,” said pickleball fan Anika Gupta. Pickleball is a social sport. You are in close enough proximity to your partner and/or opponents to converse, and the friendly competition creates great opportunities for some creative smack talk. Some players chose to perform various celebrations, or “cellys,” to taunt their opponents after each point won. The competitive nature of the sport can get intense, but it is rooted in light-hearted fun. Pickleball also provides a great opportunity to experience teamwork in doubles matches, and can improve your social abilities greatly. You might have to compete or team up with a complete stranger, facilitating new friendships every match.

    4. A drop shot a day keeps the doctor away.

    Good news! Pickleball is heart healthy. According to a study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who play racquet sports regularly are “47% less likely to die of any cause and 56% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease.” Harvard Medical School attributes some of pickleball’s benefits to the lateral movements required. Side-to-side motion is uncommon in most forms of exercise, but pickleball is a low-impact way to improve your balance and health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day for kids age 6 to 17. “I’m usually having too much fun to look at a clock when I’m pickleballing, so an hour just flies by,” added avid player Sophie Welch.

    5. It’s “rally” fun.

    From the first serve to the last volley, pickleball never ceases to delight its players. It’s social, stimulating, and sometimes intense. It’s amazing that spur-of-the moment pickleball tournaments can bring people from all walks of life together. And the opportunities are endless. Whether I play with 80-year-old retirees at the Tennis and Fitness Centre, or first-timers in my gym class, I always catch everyone on the court laughing and smiling. Whether I win or (more frequently) lose, I have never regretted a single pickleball match.

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