While everyone is familiar with tennis, many have no idea what pickleball is, but that’s quickly changing. Pickleball is now the fastest growing sport in America. “It's kind of a combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton,” says Woody Bibb, who is on the board of Music City Pickleball in Franklin. “What's great about it is it’s something that people of all different levels can play.”
Len Dinoia, co-owner of The Tennis Store in Franklin adds, “The learning curve is not a tennis learning curve. It's something that people can start to enjoy right away. It’s also great how inclusive it is - you have folks from all walks of life, whether young, old, tennis players, non-tennis players, and racquetball players, all converging on this sport.” Len has seen a great surge in the demand for pickleball equipment. “We're about even with tennis rackets and pickleball paddles now,” he says. “I think the only thing holding back the sport from further growth is more pickleball courts.”
The court, explains Woody, is about half the size of a tennis court, and players use wiffle balls and paddles. “The games are a lot quicker too than tennis. You keep score kind of like volleyball in that you play to 11 points, but you only score when you're serving.”
He says it's easier on people with knee or hip injuries because the movement isn't as dramatic.
As a tennis player, Woody likes that pickleball can also be quite competitive depending on who you team up with. He can play a casual, more relaxed game with friends and family, but also play a more hard-core game with athletes like himself using more strategic hits. The other great thing about the sport is it can be played indoors and outdoors. And because of the size of the court, it’s also a much more social game.
When Woody first found out about the sport, he went to The Tennis Store to buy equipment. “Len was a big part of helping me get started,” he says. “There are subtle differences in equipment. You can have really firm wooden paddles or the more rubbery ones where you can put a lot of spin on the ball. Len also offers a demo for three days of three or four different paddles, so it’s not a huge investment to find the right one.”
“It's an exciting time for the sport,” says Len. “There’s great growth and we're excited to be part of it. We try to support the community as much as we can by making sure we have everything in stock.”