Pickleball is considered to be one of the fastest growing sports in the country, with Texas alone hosting 623 courts. San Marcos hosts 14 courts.
Photo provided by Pickleheads.com
Pickleball is a combination of tennis, table tennis and badminton with the final product being an easy to learn activity people from all ages can enjoy.
Photo provided by Pickleheads.com
Pickleball offers locals new summer activities
With the summer fast approaching and people wanting to try out new activities, one of those possibilities is participating in what is called the fastest growing sport in the country: pickleball.
Brandon Mackie, co-founder of Pickleheads, said he has seen the sport grow in San Marcos with multiple courts now spread out across the city limits.
“It’s a cross between tennis, table tennis, and badminton,” Mackie said. “It was invented nearly 50 years ago near Seattle, Washington. The game play is very similar to tennis where you are playing on a mini version of a tennis court. The equipment is closer to table tennis where you are using a plastic paddle and a plastic ball with the scoring much like badminton. So it’s a blend of all three which makes it a fun, novel sport.”
Invented in 1965, pickleball has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the past few years, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lone Star State has particularly seen major growth in the sport as it now hosts 623 pickleball courts, according to pickleheads. com “Texas has become a hot spot for pickleball,” Mackie said. “A huge percentage of the pro players live in Austin, as well as some of the most influential people in the industry. What’s happened is that it has started to spread from the metro areas into the surrounding suburbs. That is where we are starting to see an uptick in activity” In fact, Major League Pickleball, one of the highest levels of play for pickball, was founded in Hays County by Steve Kuhn of Dripping Springs.
In 2023, major names such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Patrick Mahomes, and Naomi Osaka have all purchased expansion teams.
At the moment, San Marcos has 14 courts located at Rio Vista Park and the San Marcos Activity Center.
San Marcos Parks and Recreation also offers both tournament and open play sessions for pickleball players.
For Mackie, the co-founder, he recommends first-time players try out an open play session.
“The best place to learn is to try it out for yourself,” Mackie said. “For pickleball in particular, there are open play sessions. In open play, anyone can come out and play with your friends or anyone else. Players can rotate partners and usually organize depending on skill level.”
Much like everyone who first started playing pickleball, Mackie was amazed on how easy the learning curve was for the sport.
“I was a tennis player my whole life,” Mackie said. “I discovered the sport just as the pandemic was starting. I quickly gravitated towards it because I could see how easy it was for people to learn how to play. I could take my friends, family, or anyone else out there to play and they can learn how to play it in about 10 minutes. Because of that, I just kept playing more and more and now it’s become a big part of my life.”
Besides the obvious difference of playing on a smaller court as well as pickleball being played almost exclusively in doubles matches, Mackie noted that playing pickleball involves more game planning than one may think.
“Pickleball is more of a game about strategy,” Mackie said. “Whereas in tennis, where you try to hit the ball as hard as you can, that doesn’t really work in pickleball. You have to be more strategic with your shots while not counting anybody out.”
For information about pickleball, visit pickleheads. com to see where the nearest pickleball court is nearest to you.
If you are interested in playing pickleball, visit San Marcos Parks and Recreation to learn about when the next Open Play Sessions will be held.
cmcwilliams @sanmarcosrecord.com Twitter: @ColtomBMc