Local Golden residents participate in a session of drop-in Pickleball at the Rec Plex for the 1:30-3:30 session on Thursday. Claire Palmer/Star Photo

Pickleball provides fun fitness for all

For those looking for some light exercise to provide fitness and some socialization, the town has just the sport available as part of their drop-in programming.

Over the last few years, Pickleball has emerged as one of the most popular drop-in activities that are offered to the residents of Golden. For Mike Cantle, who has been playing drop-in Pickleball for three years now, it’s obvious as to why the sport has become more popular.

“It’s relatively easy to play, and it’s nice from a social perspective,” said Cantle. “It has a sort of mood about it that’s welcoming and sociable, and we have a good mix of ages.”

Played with a paddle rather than a racket, the object of the game is to hit the ball over a knee-high net into the opponents court. Similar to tennis, one bounce is allowed. Serves are underhand, rather than over the head, making it an easier motion.

Typically, games are played in pairs.

“We’ll play for two hours, and most of us aren’t going to go out of here exhausted,” said Cantle. “We will have had some reasonable exercise though, and keeping fit in my ancient years has been good for me.”

While in most places Pickleball is primarily played by seniors who have retired from other racket sports such as tennis and badminton in favour of its less demanding cousin, in Golden it has been attracting a younger crowd.

Cantle estimates that the age range of those who come to drop-in sessions can be anywhere from 17 to 77. As the sport continues to grow, more and more people of differing age groups come to the sessions.

“It’s been fun because of the varying numbers of people who got attracted,” said Cantle. “It’s been fun to see it grow and to see the good mix of people coming.”

Pickleball has been exploding across North America, picking up in popularity across Canada, and growing exponentially in the United States.

In Golden, Pickleball is offered six times a week, on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and twice on Fridays. Cantle says that for the evening session on Fridays, they like to shake things up a bit with a round robin tournament, assigning doubles pairs by pulling names out of a hat.

“It’s a bit of a completion where the number of points that you get in each game adds up and we declare a winner once a week,” said Cantle. “It’s fun to mix everybody up. We don’t tend to do tournaments however, because the Town likes to have the drop-in approach and to be open to anybody.”

However, tournaments aren’t completely out of the question. Several of the people who participate in the drop in sessions go to tournaments in Invermere, Cranbrook, and Calgary, with Cantle even taking home a title in a tournament this past year.

“A couple players from here are going fairly regularly to Calgary to improve their game,” said Cantle. “There are always opportunities to go to tournaments.”

Drop-in Pickleball is played out of the Rec Plex for a small fee of $5. Two courts are available for play, with equipment available to borrow for first time players.

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