With Dinks and Roll volleys, Third and Fifth shot drops, a Kitchen and a few Ernie’s thrown in for good measure, you may not have heard of Pickleball, but at Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, this fun, easy-to-learn sport has quickly become a regular activity at the club.
Coach Richard Millman, better known as the former county Squash champion and for the past 28 years a national coach and champion in the USA, started a program at the club this summer and now, with cold and wet winter weather approaching, the almost 50 players who have tried and enjoyed the sport are looking forward to continuing this fun, social, recreational game both at the club and next door at Cromer Academy on the four indoor courts there.
‘ The beauty of the game,’ Coach Millman says, ‘is that whether you have played a racquet sport before or not, Pickleball is easy for anyone of any age to pick up and enjoy.’
Coach Millman and his wife Pat have instilled a culture of welcome, inviting fun in the group, where banter, learning, competition and exercise are offered in equal measure.
‘My first advice to someone learning Pickleball is that they should be able to laugh easily, both at themselves and with their team mates. After that the techniques and strategies come easily!’
Both Club Chairman Kelvin van Hasselt and Club Vice Chairman Icarus Hines are converts and have enjoyed the entertaining mixture of delicate little touch shots just over the net, known as Dinks, and the quick-fire volley rallies known as Firefights that happen at the net.
Millman, who has only been playing a short while himself, recently joined a strong Norfolk contingent at the English National Pickleball Championships in Bolton, where he took 4th place in the National over 50 championships.
New players are actively being sought and readers are encouraged to contact the club to come along to try Pickleball out. The club will lend you Paddles and balls and we are lucky enough to have several qualified Pickleball leaders to show you the ropes.
No knowledge of the sport is needed before you come along, although you may enjoy going to www.pickleballengland.org to learn about the game.
Currently there are 4.5 million pickleball players in the USA and the majority of them are between the ages of 50 and 85 although the top professionals are much younger and recently more and more children and younger players have started to play.
Former Tennis, Squash, Table Tennis and Badminton players all find that they have transferable skills but equally people who don’t have a sports history and who have been looking for a pastime that is fun, social and easy to learn have quickly found their feet playing Pickleball.
If you live in other parts of Norfolk or north Suffolk there are also great groups available to play with. Pickleball programs are run in Dereham by Chris Taylor, Norwich by the regional coordinator for Pickleball England - Pickleball Jeff, at Broadland Sports Club and in Gorleston, at the Sports Park at the University of East Anglia by David Youngs - gold medalist at the recent English Nationals and in Hingham. To find your local program go to the Pickleball England website at www.pickleballengland.org and do a search for your local contact.
If you are in reasonably good shape and aged anywhere from 6 to 86, provided you are cleared to exercise by your doctor, then Pickleball is for you!
To give Pickleball a try in the North Norfolk area, contact Club Chairman Kelvin Van Hasselt at email@example.com and he will put you together with the organizers of the Pickleball program.
Winter meetings will be Tuesdays at 7.30pm-9pm and Fridays 7pm-8.30pm with open play on Saturdays 1pm-2pm. The group tends to meet for a social after the sessions and so you will have a chance to get to know everyone both on and off the court.
Pickleball for ever! Fun, social, recreational sport from primary school and well into your eighties!