Muscatine, Iowa: A Pretty Pickle – Popularity Soars

Pickleball presents a rather unusual sport. A blend between badminton, ping pong, and tennis, pickleball players hit a ball that looks like whiffle ball over a short net with large wooden, plastic, or metal paddles in an effort to outscore their opponents. Though pickleball may sound surprising, this simple and satisfying sport has many fans of all ages and skill levels. At the Muscatine Community Y (the Y) pickleball’s popularity has increased with the addition of three new pickleball courts in the Y’s newly built gym.
When the Y added their most recent gym and track in 2018, they wanted to make sure they had spaces that could accommodate all different types of sports and activities. To this end, they replaced their two existing pickleball courts with three new ones. Located in the large back basketball gym, the Y can set up these three courts quickly and can handle up to twelve players at a time.
This additional capacity has proved hugely helpful, as the Y has four different good-sized drop-in pickleball groups. Brett Olson, Executive Director, shared that each group has an average of twenty to twenty-five players at their meetings, and that even with the expanded playing space, teams still need to rotate in and out to make sure everyone gets equal play time. “It’s a good problem to have when we have more players than courts,” Olson joked.
Olson believes Muscatine residents of all ages have embraced pickleball for a number of reasons. He shared, “older tennis players like it because it’s a smaller court and a slower moving ball, but younger people love it too. This hard winter has also driven a lot of outside tennis players inside as well.” Along with these reasons Olson considers the friendships that form on the court an equally big draw to the sport. “It’s a good group of folks. They regulate themselves . . . and it works very smoothly. . .. They take it seriously, but not too seriously. It’s good exercise with good folks.”
For anyone interested in checking out one of the drop-in pickleball groups for themselves, Olson highly encourages it as an enjoyable indoor workout. He elaborated, “it’s a fun sport and great exercise. You won’t even realize how many calories you’re burning and how much work you’re doing. You’ll just have a great time.”
If pickleball peaks your interest, the Y offers many opportunities to try it out. Olson emphasizes that anyone can play, and that people of all ages may kattend the drop-in sessions. Free to members, non-members may try out a single session for $3 and then purchase a $25 punch card good for ten sessions. Olson simply requests that non-members bring a photo ID with them when purchasing passes. Whether you want to try a new sport this spring, change up your workout, or meet new friends, drop-in pickleball at the Y provides the perfect opportunity for you.

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