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Pickleball Rockland: Can’t Dink This

by Rich Henry
Combining the best parts of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, Pickleball is a fun, active paddle sport for all ages and skill levels. The number of places to play Pickleball has more than quadrupled since 2010 to over 7000 locations in North America, according to USA Pickleball Association. Pickleball is the perfect sport for families and players of all ages to stay active and healthy. If this is all news to you, read A Pickleball Primer For The Nyacks, to find out what you are missing!

Pickleball play at Nyack Memorial Park, October 2018

Pickleball Play at Nyack Memorial Park in October, 2018.

Rockland County Pickleball play has grown 30% over the past year. However, players are finding that it’s getting hard to find places to play because the villages and towns in Rockland County have not kept up with demand. We have yet to see the investment and programs we have seen being developed in other parts of New York State.
Why are baby boomers switching from tennis to Pickleball? It’s fun and social, played on a shorter court most likely with doubles play. It’s easier on the knees.

And newbies can “get it” after only a few minutes of play, compared to the lessons and years of practice it takes to excel at tennis. Pickleball’s biggest growth is in states like Florida and Arizona, where active baby boomers and (and older players) are stacking their paddles on the sidelines to queue up for the next Pickleball match, while adjacent tennis courts are empty.
In Rockland County, we do not have any indoor public facilities or programs that include Pickleball as an option for active seniors and people of all ages who want to try this sport. Currently players need to travel to other counties, municipal parks and even other States to get to play Pickleball.
It’s changing, although that’s happening slowly. Because the tennis courts at the Rockland Lake State Park are only seeing occasional use, Pickleball players have been bringing their own nets and chalking lines to play on these deteriorating tennis courts for over a year now. On any given day, you can see 20 to 30 adults actively playing.
The good news is that things are changing. The make-shift Pickleball courts at Congers Lake Park are busy (but only open to Clarkstown and Upper Nyack residents). Thanks to funding from the NYS Parks Department at Rockland Lake and the efforts of some Pickleball volunteers, two of the six tennis courts at Rockland Lake State Park will be patched and repainted this summer to create four new Pickleball / multi-purpose courts. Kudos to the staff at Rockland Lake State Park for their support, and their outreach to other state parks to learn how they have funded and developed their respective Pickleball programs.
If you haven’t tried Pickleball, check out this video to see what you are missing. It’s addictive, very social and it’s great exercise, too. With the help of and a group of fervent Pickleball players, maybe we can get our elected officials to create more public spaces to play Pickleball in Rockland County.

Richard Henry is the USAPA Pickleball Ambassador for Rockland County.

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