If you’re looking for a low-intensity sport that allows you to keep fit and make friends, Tayside’s latest craze – Pickleball – could be for you.
Tennis coach David Anderson, 29, first heard of Pickleball while on a university placement in Aberdeen, where he was tasked with finding activities that made exercise accessible for over-60s.
Now he’s keen to introduce the sport to all age groups across Tayside.
The game combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis, and David is spreading the word about Pickleball for those who want to try something different.
The game was created by an American family, and the story goes they named it after their dog, Pickles.
David, from Dundee, explains: “Shots are very similar to tennis, the only shot that’s different is the serve. You serve underarm like badminton.
“The scoring system is the traditional badminton scoring system where you can only win a point if you or your teammate is serving.
“If your opponent wins the point but you’re the server, the serve just gets passed over. You also play on a badminton court.
“The equipment is very similar to table tennis. We use a ball called a wiffle ball, which looks like a big practice golf ball with holes in it. The bat has no strings, it’s like a table tennis bat, but bigger.”
‘I think Pickleball could help people’
David has been into sports since he first began playing tennis in 2001, when he was a Primary 4 pupil.
At just 16, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and ever since, the sport has been his escape.
David continues: “With my diagnosis of MS when I was 16, one of the ways I’ve been able to cope is by staying physically active.
“Tennis was my gateway to exercise and that helped me for all those years.
“I was in hospital for two months due to my condition last year. I was in the high dependency unit and all I could do was wiggle my big toe and talk.
“The thing with my diagnosis was it affected me mentally more than anything else.
“Because I was fairly young when I was diagnosed, I didn’t feel there was anyone I could talk to.
“It knocked my confidence quite a lot, but using tennis as my escape helped me.
“That’s why I think Pickleball could help people. It’s a distraction. I’m someone who’s been through it, so I know the benefits and how it helped me.”
‘It’s a very sociable game’
Because of the nature of Pickleball, it’s more accessible for those who can’t take part in vigorous exercise.
However, the sport can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of ability: At David’s class, ages of those attending range from 19 up to over 70.
He explains: “I might get worse with my condition, but I’d be able to play Pickleball if it did deteriorate.
“The size of a tennis court is too big for potential future mobility issues, but with the court shortened, it’s more attractive to me.
“The smaller court is also a good option for players who’ve had to give up tennis because of injury.
“Because it’s a lower impact sport, it’s also easier on your joints. It’s a very sociable game, too, which is great for your mental health.”
Pickleball sessions near you
If you’re interested in trying one of David’s Pickleball sessions, visit his website to find out where and when your nearest class is.
The first session is free and discounts are available for those who are retired.
You can also receive a discount if you are a SAMH participant (Dawson Park sessions only), an Abertay University student (Ward Road Gym sessions only), or a member of Forthill Community Tennis Club or Rattray Tennis Club.