Pickleball, the increasingly popular recreational sport, has taken Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona, by storm, captivating players of all ages, from retirees to millennials. As the demand for pickleball courts continues to grow, these two picturesque cities have responded by expanding their court offerings in local parks.
Mesa’s Pickleball Courts
Mesa boasts an impressive collection of 66 pickleball courts spread across its 70 large parks. The Gene Autry Park’s Mesa Tennis and Pickleball Center is at the forefront, offering an astounding 21 courts. In October, they unveiled eight new courts equipped with lighting for uninterrupted gameplay. Residents can access these courts for $4 per hour for walk-ins or $6 per hour with reservations.
It’s essential to note that rules for reservations and walk-in play may vary among parks. Mesa recently added four more courts at Monterey Park, open to the public with reservations taking precedence. Reservations for these courts are available every day between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Kleinman Park, located on Extension Road and Eighth Avenue, offers four courts that can be reserved for a fee, but they are free for public use during non-reservation times. Nearby, Red Mountain Park has two first-come, first-served courts near Power and Brown roads.
For those who prefer first-come, first-served usage, Washington Park (University and Mesa drives) and Sheepherders Park (McDowell and Lindsay roads) each have a single court. Additionally, several Mesa parks have incorporated pickleball lines on their existing basketball courts, although players will need to bring their own nets. These parks include Augusta Ranch Park, Chaparral Park, Emerald Park, and Sheepherders Park.
Pickleball Courts in Gilbert
Gilbert’s Regional Park, situated along Queen Creek and Higley roads, is the town’s primary pickleball hub, offering 16 courts that are open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. During peak times when the courts are busy, players are expected to follow court rotation etiquette rules.
Players waiting for their turn can place their paddles in racks from left to right, indicating their place in line as they eagerly await the conclusion of ongoing games. According to Gilbert’s park rules, winners of a game can stay on the court for two additional games before courteously stepping aside to allow others their turn.
The Appeal of Pickleball in Retirement Communities
Pickleball has emerged as a beloved pastime in retirement communities across the United States, and its appeal to older adults is undeniable. Here are some key factors contributing to its popularity:
1. Social Connection: One of the most significant attractions of pickleball is the sense of community it fosters. Retirement communities often prioritize social engagement, and pickleball provides an excellent platform for residents to meet new friends, share experiences, and strengthen bonds.
2. Accessibility: Pickleball is renowned for being an inclusive sport that accommodates players of varying fitness levels and abilities. It’s easy to learn and doesn’t require exceptional physical prowess, making it accessible to older adults who may have mobility or health limitations.
3. Physical Activity: Staying active is vital for maintaining good health in retirement, and pickleball offers a fun way to achieve this goal. The game involves brisk movements, promotes cardiovascular fitness, and helps improve balance, coordination, and flexibility, which are particularly important for older adults.
4. Low Impact: Unlike high-impact sports, pickleball is gentle on the joints, which is essential for older players. The sport’s smaller court size and slower-paced ball make it less physically demanding while still providing an excellent workout.
5. Mental Stimulation: Pickleball isn’t just a physical activity; it’s mentally engaging as well. Players must strategize, anticipate their opponent’s moves, and make quick decisions, helping to keep the mind sharp.
Pickleball is played on a rectangular court, similar to a badminton court, with a net in the center. Here’s a brief overview of the game’s basic rules and gameplay:
1. Scoring: Pickleball is typically played as doubles, with two players on each team. The scoring system is similar to that of tennis, with points earned on each rally. Games are usually played to 11 points, and you must win by at least two points.
2. Serve: The serving team initiates play by serving the ball diagonally to the opposing team’s service court. The ball must clear the net and land in the opponent’s service court. Only the serving team can score points.
3. Volley and Rally: After the serve, both teams can volley the ball (hit it in the air) or let it bounce once before hitting it. Players must stay behind the non-volley zone (known as the “kitchen”) when volleying the ball to avoid “volleying” too close to the net.
4. Double Bounce Rule: To start a rally, the ball must first bounce on the serving team’s side and then on the receiving team’s side. After this, both teams can volley the ball without it needing to bounce.
5. Faults: Common faults include hitting the ball out of bounds, not clearing the net, stepping into the kitchen while volleying, or failing to follow the double bounce rule. When a fault occurs, the opposing team earns a point and the serve.
6. Rotation: Players must rotate positions each time their team wins the serve, ensuring that both players have a chance to serve.
In retirement communities, pickleball offers a perfect blend of physical activity, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Its adaptability and friendly atmosphere make it a favorite pastime for retirees, helping them lead active, vibrant lives while forging lasting friendships in their community.
Pickleball is thriving in Mesa and Gilbert, providing residents with an engaging way to enjoy the outdoors and build a sense of community. Whether you’re an experienced player or new to the sport, the courts in these cities invite you to join in on the pickleball craze. So grab your paddle, practice your moves, and relish the excitement of this captivating sport amidst the scenic beauty of Mesa and Gilbert.