The younger set grabs the booming pickleball game

Pickleball isn’t for seniors anymore.

When Zak Miller, 27, ponders playing either badminton or pickleball, he shared the instances where the latter wins.

“If I want to get my exercise and steps and the occasional fun and play, I would lean towards Pickleball,” he said. “If I’m looking for a more intense workout, I choose badminton.”

Fisher Park in Phoenixville is used year-round by pickleball players. (Photo courtesy of Smashville)

Two to three days a week, Miller plays pickleball outdoors with a meetup group at Fisher Park in Phoenixville, which has eight pickleball courts. He plays there all year round unless there is snow on the ground.

“If it’s not snowing, you get warm out there quickly,” he said.

Other days, he might teach classes at Smashville in Pottstown, where he’s a Professional Pickleball Registry-certified instructor of the sport.

Instructor Zack Miller demonstrates pickleball techniques to a newcomer to the sport. (Photo courtesy of Smashville)

“What I love about this sport is how accessible it is to everyone,” Miller said. “Anyone of any age group can easily hit and pull off a good rally.”

Increasingly in younger population groups

For a sport typically associated with retirees, Miller says pickleball is starting to grow in younger demographics.

“I was down in Florida a month or two ago and there was a pretty young group down there,” he said. “I was surprised.”

Once considered a sport for the elderly, 27-year-old Zack Miller represents a growing number of younger players playing pickleball. (Photo courtesy of Smashville)

Miller, who has been with Smashville for seven years, first encountered pickleball during his senior year at Penn State University in State College, where he played at the YMCA.

“I was looking for something to do in the morning,” he says.

Smashville, which has locations in both Pottstown and King of Prussia, offers introductory classes for beginners at its Pottstown location. Lessons take place indoors.

“Conditions are not good for casual or advanced players,” he said, adding that the surface is a bit uneven.

The last free class they held had over 20 participants. Smashville started offering pickleball and clinics about two years ago.

“We’ve had tournaments and clinics in other places as well,” he said, such as at Fisher Park in Phoenixville.

Promote and demonstrate basic skills

Half of the time at Pickleball Clinics is usually devoted to basic skills and the other half to playing.

“The goal is to encourage and showcase basic pickleball skills and some advanced skills as well as chops and slices,” Miller said.

If you’re already a tennis player, Miller said the coordination skills you get from the sport can work in your favor if you’re new to pickleball.

“You can transition even faster if you have these skills,” Miller said.

Alternatively, he said pickleball can provide a good foundation if you want to play tennis if you have no tennis experience.

“It’s probably the perfect game to transition into tennis,” he said. “You learn some of the same mechanics you can use in tennis, like topspin, slice, footwork, volley.”

The Phoenixville YMCA will host its own Pickleball Tournament in conjunction with a Spring Festival on Saturday, April 23 from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

While Miller likes to use pickleball as a workout, he said you can approach it just as easily while playing.

“You don’t have to expend a lot of energy,” he said. “People can get out there and it’s easy to get going and gather with your partner.”

Next Smashville Pickleball Clinic

Date: Saturday 26 March

Time: 1pm-2:30pm

For free

Where: Smashville

Address: 310 E. High St., 3rd Floor, Pottstown

*All ages welcome and bring a pickleball paddle if you have one.

For more informations

Pickleball and badminton in Smashville

Smashville in Pottstown is a member-operated badminton facility that also offers pickleball lessons. Everyone takes responsibility for the smooth running of Smashville, general cleanliness and respect for the equipment. www.smashville.us

About Veronica Richards

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