IT IS a quirky cross between badminton, tennis and table tennis that is being hailed as one of the fastest growing sports in America – welcome to the heady world of pickleball.

What the heck is pickleball?

I am glad you asked. Pickleball is played with short-handled, hard paddles and a perforated plastic ball. Players can go head-to-head in either singles or doubles matches.

And this is popular?

It is a huge hit in the US with 4.8 million players.

Is it a new fad?

No, actually. Pickleball was invented on a summer afternoon in 1965 by three fathers in Bainbridge Island, Washington, which makes it 57 years old. Its founders are said to have named the game after a family dog called Pickles.

Aww, sweet. Can anyone play?

That's the idea and also what has helped make it so popular. Pickleball is played on a court about a quarter of the size of a tennis court, with a lower net. The rules and scoring system are fairly simple to pick up.

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There is less running about required than with other racket ball sports making it easier on the body, which is perhaps why it is such a popular pursuit in many retirement homes.

So, it is for older people?

Nope. The trio of dads who coined pickleball created it for their bored kids. While most of today's pickleball players are over 65, the game is steadily attracting a younger demographic, with the strongest growth among those under 55, according to USA Pickleball.

Is it competitive?

It can be. Pickleball has two national professional tournaments in the US, both formed in the last four years, and organisers are seeking corporate sponsors to grow the game both there and around the world. The International Federation of Pickleball has 70 member countries.

It is hardly an Olympic sport, though.

Well, not yet. But that's the plan. Pickleball proponents are hoping it can secure a spot as a demonstration sport at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

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Any celebrity fans?

Affirmative. Friends star Matthew Perry, who in his youth was a nationally ranked junior tennis player in Canada, started playing pickleball during the pandemic. Comedian Larry David admitted to enjoying a game in the recent series of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

What's the need-to-know lingo?

Pickleball players often refer to "the kitchen" – the non-volley zone.

Can I play it here?

Yes. Check out Pickleball Scotland for more information. Visit