May 09, 2023 Healthy Living

Join the pickleball craze! What it is and where to play in the Capital Region

Pickle what? Pickleball! But what is it?

It’s one of the fastest growing sports out there, gaining several million players in the past few years alone.

It can be played with two players in singles format, but the more popular selection seems to be doubles, which has four players. The best part? Pickleball can be enjoyed by all ages and fitness levels!

Think of a sport where tennis, badminton, and ping-pong all come together to form a game played with a paddle and a plastic ball resembling a whiffle ball. The badminton-sized court can be indoors or outdoors and uses a modified tennis net.

Pickleball is easy to learn, and the rules are simple. Here are the basics of play:

  • To start, use an underhand or drop serve crosscourt
  • Both the serve and return must bounce
  • After that, the ball can be hit off a bounce or in the air
  • First to 11 points wins

Check out these videos for more details on how to play and how to keep score from the experts at USA Pickleball.

Ready to give pickleball a try?

First, get yourself a paddle and balls. You can find a large variety of products in a wide range of prices online and in stores. There are even sets that sell for less than $20 if you prefer to keep costs down as you get started.

Then, head to one of these locations in the Capital Region where you can play for low or no cost to see if pickleball is the sport for you.

  • Averill Park High School Tennis Courts, Averill Park. Two of the school’s tennis courts also have pickleball courts painted, but you’ll need to bring your own net.
  • Collins Park, Scotia. These outdoor courts are hybrid tennis/pickleball courts in a beautiful public park that also has a baseball field, basketball court, and a playground if you’re interested.
  • East Side Rec Field, Saratoga Springs. Multiple outdoor courts that even have lighting so you can keep playing as the sun goes down. Many other features like picnic and playground areas so you can make a day of it with the family if you choose.
  • Elm Avenue Park, Delmar. The Town of Bethlehem’s largest park has outdoor tennis courts that you can play pickleball on. The Parks & Rec Department usually hosts a beginner pickleball program during the summer but be sure to check in with them if you’d like to join.
  • Various Capital District YMCA branches. You can play for free if you’re a Capital District YMCA member or a CDPHP Medicare Advantage member. Non-members can purchase a reasonably-priced day pass to play. View schedules and locations.
Image of a person pointing at a lightbulb stating, "Pro Tip"

Search USA Pickleball for even more locations in the Capital District and neighboring communities.

PRO TIP! If you’re a CDPHP Medicare Advantage member, your SilverSneakers membership lets you play pickleball for free at more than 1,000 locations nationwide. Search locations by entering your city or zip code, then choose pickleball from the “select filters” dropdown list to see where you can play.

Already play pickleball and want more options?

Work on improving your game. Upstate NY Pickleball offers clinics and lessons with professional instructors. They even offer junior programs if the kiddos want to join in the fun!

Join a club or participate in a tournament. Pickleball518 regularly posts information and news that can point you in the right direction. They even ran a “best of” poll so local enthusiasts could vote on their favorite venues, instructors, and clubs. You can see the results here.

Become a member of CDPHP Fitness Connect at the Ciccotti Center. With four indoor courts and all the necessary equipment, you can enjoy a generous open play schedule every weekday, including evening hours. And CDPHP Medicare Advantage members can play for free as part of their Senior Fit program!

Whether you’re a pickleball beginner or already an experienced player, being active is an important part of staying healthy. Sign up for the CDPHP Health Hub, powered by Virgin Pulse to log your activity and track your path to better health. The CDPHP Health Hub can be accessed from your smartphone or computer, giving you 24/7 access to powerful wellness resources right at your fingertips.

If you’re a CDPHP member, you may even earn CDPHP Life Points® Rewards, redeemable for valuable gift cards!*

*Not all plans include CDPHP Life Points Rewards.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Sarah Bowman
About the Author

Sarah Bowman is a communications supervisor who joined CDPHP in November 2020. A life-long lover of words, Sarah brings the team 20 years of editing and writing experience gained through her positions at a digital media company, public relations agency, and book publishing house. She attended The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY where she received her BA in Public Communications. Sarah currently resides in the Capital Region with her husband and son where she enjoys long family walks, Broadway shows, and finding the next great streaming series to binge.

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