Free pickleball offered Jan. 23

Pickleball, a racquet sport similar to tennis but played on a smaller court, is catching on with more than 200,000 players worldwide, according to the USA Pickleball Association. (CHUCK RODERIQUE/USA Pickleball Association)

Pickleball, a racquet sport similar to tennis but played on a smaller court, is catching on with more than 200,000 players worldwide, according to the USA Pickleball Association. (CHUCK RODERIQUE/USA Pickleball Association)

KINGMAN - In an effort to increase participation, the Kingman Parks and Recreation Department is offering a free drop-in pickleball session from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Palo Christi Elementary School, 500 Maple St.

Pickleball is a hybrid between tennis, racquetball and badminton, a sport played on a volleyball or badminton court with two players on each team. They use a wooden paddle to hit a plastic ball over the net.

It was invented on a ferry ride in Seattle in 1965 and has grown in popularity over the years, especially among seniors.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who is curious about the game or for those who want to brush up on their skills," said Ryan Fruhwirth, recreation coordinator for the city. "Pickleball is the exciting, fast-paced, low-impact sport that is sweeping the nation, and you can be a part of it."

Wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothing. All equipment is provided, and veteran players are willing to give instruction.

About 200,000 people play pickleball worldwide, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

"It appears the relatively benign sport of pickleball mutated into pickleball-mania," the USAPA web site states. "While the reasons for this mutation are not generally known, a likely hypothesis suggests that it resulted from exposure of the tennis, racquetball and badminton bacteria to high doses of boredom in Washington state."

Palo Christi School has been open for pickleball play Saturday mornings for more than a year, with a charge of $2 to help defray costs.

For more information, call Fruhwirth at 928-692-3113. To learn more about the game, visit www.usaoa.org.