This article is published in partnership with Rally Point Sports.
Have you been down to the North Grand River Riverfront Park – located off Bowes Road and behind Walgreens – and wondered what the courts are for? They are certainly too small for a tennis game.
They’re pickleball courts. It’s a sport that was invented in 1965 but has become all the rage in recent years.
Pickleball is popular, in part, because it lends itself well to players of all ages and abilities. Families and friends can easily play together, but there are also competitive pickleball tournaments and leagues.
If you want to get in on the craze, keep reading for everything you need to know about how to play pickleball in Lowell.
What is pickleball?
If you’ve ever watched tennis, then pickleball will look familiar. Players hit a whiffle ball back and forth across a net until one team scores a certain number of points. Most games are played to 11 points although pickleball tournaments may play until 15 or 21 points per match.
Matches can be played by singles or doubles – which is two players facing off against two other players. Instead of racquets, paddles are used, and the court is about half the size of a regular tennis court.
Pickleball can be a fast-paced game, but since it uses a whiffle ball and smaller court, many people find it easier to master than tennis. It is also a great choice for those looking for a sport that can accommodate players who have issues with mobility, muscle tightness and minor injuries.
Where can I play pickleball in my area?
Despite pickleball’s enormous popularity, it can be hard to find information about local pickleball leagues and drop-ins if you don’t know where to look.
Here are some options for those who want to play pickleball in Grand Rapids or Lowell.
- Facebook Groups: Lowell Red Arrows Pickleball and Rally Point Pickleball are two options to find when drop-ins are scheduled for the Lowell courts.
- Mobile apps: PickleUp is one app commonly used by Lowell players to organize matches. Team Reach is another option to connect with players and find pickleball games in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area.
- Follow sports events hosts: Make sure to like and follow organizations, such as Rally Point Sports, on Facebook to hear about upcoming pickleball leagues, tournaments and no-cost drop-in dates.
- Recruit your friends: One of the best – and easiest – ways to find someone to play is to introduce your friends to the sport and plan regular pickleball meet-ups.
You can find a full list of local pickleball resources here.
What is a no-cost pickleball drop-in?
If you want to play pickleball but don’t have any friends available, a drop-in can be the perfect solution.
As the name suggests, a no-cost drop-in is a free way for people to play without any advance registration required. You simply show up and play!
Many pickleball drop-ins run for 2-3 hours and welcome local players of all skill levels. Depending on who shows up for the session, matches may include singles, doubles or mixed doubles. Some people like to show up at drop-ins to meet other local pickleball enthusiasts, find hitting partners and make new friends.
You can find Lowell pickleball drop-in dates here.
Should I join a pickleball league?
Pickleball is a fun sport for casual players, but some people also play it competitively. If you’re interested in pickleball tournaments and testing your skill against top players, you should definitely consider joining a pickleball league.
Leagues can be organized through local organizations, such as Rally Point Sports, or by the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA). The USAPA leagues tend to attract more serious and competitive players, and the association hosts pickleball tournaments that culminate in the national championships.
Many leagues run from 4-6 weeks and hold events based on player skill or age. Depending on the league, you may need to provide your own equipment, such as balls and paddles, or it may be provided. Be sure to double check the requirements before signing up.
You can find a local pickleball league information here.
How much does it cost to play pickleball?
Not much! One of the great things about pickleball is that very little equipment is needed. All that’s required is a paddle, some balls and athletic shoes. Then, find a local pickleball court, and you’re ready to go!
Pickleball paddles and balls can be purchased locally at Meijer and Dick’s Sporting Goods or through online retailers such as Amazon.
Expect to pay $20-$50 for a basic pickleball paddle, and balls can be as cheap as $1.45 each. Meijer has a three-pack for $10, or you can get 6 for $15.99 on Amazon.
How to play pickleball in Lowell
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start playing!
First, you need to find local courts. Fortunately, you won’t have to go far since Lowell has eight courts in the North Riverfront Park off Bowes Road. You’ll find them just behind Corner Stop Ice Cream.
Typically, it seems as though the more advanced players show up in the morning while afternoon matches on the courts are more casual and relaxed.
If you are brand new to the sport, stopping by a drop-in can be a great way to learn pickleball rules.
To find out more about local pickleball drop-ins, leagues and tournaments, visit Rally Point Sports.