Pickleball – not just a Woodlands thing


Courtesy of Jim Hoover

TWHS teachers Laura Steele and Lillian Hoover play pickleball for fun when they can. Both own their own racquets.

The fastest growing sport in America has officially made its way into the greater Houston area, and residents of The Woodlands are nothing short of embracing it. All you need is a regular tennis court, some nice weather, and a few racquets. Students, adults, and seniors alike have found common interest with over 4.8 million pickleball players in America, with thousands joining the sport every day.

As the years have come and gone, The Woodlands has blossomed into a center of pickleball culture. There’s an abundance of parks and recreational centers in the area, from Alden Bridge to Rob Fleming, where pickleball can be played at any time, in any weather. Select parks, such as Bear Branch even offer subsidized pickleball tournaments over the summer, with entry fees and prizes for winners. Despite the strange namesake, the great pickleball wave is in large part due to its accessibility. Just about anyone of any age or skill level can easily pick up a racket and drop into a game. Pickleball, at its roots, is extremely accessible. The courts used are far smaller than a typical tennis court (which are often divided into 2 for pickleball tournaments), and can be played indoors or outdoors. This opens the door to millions of players who may happen to be disabled and could not enjoy racket sports prior, as games such as tennis or badminton typically rely to heavily on quickness and reflexive ability to make an accessible version viable.

With popularity comes players, and with beginner players comes the desire to learn. Pickleball is typically more popular among young student-athletes and the elderly, both of whom likely share past athletic experience. This can alienate those who have little exposure to sports past little league baseball or children’s soccer. To combat this barrier, many athletic coaches in The Woodlands have begun to offer beginner pickleball workshops, where those interested can group together and learn the fundamentals of the game. In the serenity of Bear Branch park (and the comfort of newfound autumn weather), people of the greater Conroe/Woodlands area can enjoy physical and mental stimulation in an inviting environment.

Pickleball, albeit a relatively niche game, has massively united sports lovers across America. Combining a variety of elements from many different sports, it has something to offer for everyone, young or old, experienced or completely new. In a world where division is getting its final spotlight, pickleball has brought together millions, and does not seem to be coming to a halt. Go to your local park today and pick up a racket, you never know what camaraderie you may find.

The township has spring lessons – check out their flyer.