Pickleball: St George's Fastest-Growing Sport

You’re thinking about buying a house in St. George. You know about the fantastic red-rock landscapes and nearby national parks, but you wonder what else you can do in the city. Fortunately, there’s a new form of recreation spreading quickly throughout the United States, and this game already has a large following in St. George. The game? Pickleball.

Don’t be fooled by the quirky name—St. George residents take this sport seriously. Pickleball closely resembles tennis, but is played on a significantly smaller court and follows different rules. You can already find several different locations to play pickleball in St. George, and new courts continue to crop up throughout the city.

Read below to learn a bit more about this popular game and how to get into St. George’s pickleball scene.

How Do I Play Pickleball?

You can play pickleball with two or four players. Every player needs a pickleball paddle, and you’ll need one plastic ball for the game. Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court. Many courts are designed specifically for pickleball, but some players compete on repurposed tennis or badminton courts instead.

During a game of pickleball, players attempt to hit the ball over the net and onto the other side of the court, much like in tennis, badminton, or ping pong. You can only score if you are the one serving, but if you commit a fault (for instance, if you fail to hit the ball onto the opposing court) you surrender the serve to the opposing player or team. The game ends when one side reaches a specified point total, usually 11 or 15.

Because a pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court and requires less movement, pickleball is a popular game for people of all ages, including seniors. Less experienced but athletic players might rely on running back and forth to return the ball, while an experienced but less athletic player can use thoughtful strategy and ball placement to score with minimal movement.

You can visit the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) website for a thorough summary of pickleball rules. But the best way to learn the game is to start playing. Find a neighbor, co-worker, or friend who plays and have them teach you the basics. You can also stop by a pickleball court and watch some games. Who knows—someone might even ask if you want to join their game.

Where Do I Play?

St. George is a hotbed for pickleball. In fact, it has more dedicated pickleball courts than any other city in Utah. Nearly every major park has an outdoor pickleball court, many of which are lighted for nighttime play. These courts allow you to enjoy the wholesome St. George air while you play, and because they are in public parks, you can stop by and play a game for free.

If you do play at an outdoor court, you want to take extra precautions for the temperature. If you play in the spring or the fall, you will probably be fine. If you play in the summer, try to play either in the morning or the evening. If you play a strenuous game of pickleball in temperatures above 100 degrees, you may suffer from sunburns and heat exhaustion.

You can also find pickleball courts in local high schools, colleges, and rec centers. Some of these courts might require you to have a membership to play, however.

The Fields at Little Valley Pickleball Complex might be one of the best pickleball venues in the country. The complex recently expanded and now houses 24 public courts. In addition to the large number of courts, the complex boasts lighting, shaded rest areas, and even stadium seating for tournaments. In fact, the USAPA will reportedly host a tournament in the St. George complex in 2016.

What Equipment Will I Need?

When you first get started with pickleball, you might borrow equipment from more experienced players. But eventually you’ll want to walk onto the court with your own gear. You can find pickleball gear online or at most sporting goods stores.

First, you’ll need a paddle. Pickleball paddles are quite different from other rackets and paddles. The original paddles were made of wood, but most are now made of composite materials. Every experienced player will probably swear that their favorite brand represents the pinnacle of pickleball paddle design, but you can start with a cheaper paddle and be just fine. Paddles generally cost around $20 to $100.

You’ll also need a pickleball ball—a plastic, hollow, perforated ball that resembles a wiffle ball. Most balls usually come in an inexpensive pack so that you have some spares if you lose one. You can also find balls in a variety of colors, so choose the balls that best represent your personality.

Pickleball doesn’t require any special gear when it comes to clothing. You might consider some nice athletic shoes and loose-fitting clothing for more mobility, but many people simply play in whatever they happen to be wearing at the time. Some people also wear athletic gloves for a comfortable, sturdy grip on their paddle.

With just a bit of equipment, you can visit one of the many public pickleball courts in St. George and start playing. Of course, pickleball is just one of the many things you can do in southern Utah. Check out our other blogs to see what else you’ll be able to do after you move in to sunny St. George.