Pickleball. You’ve heard about it — like, a lot lately — and maybe you’ve even played it. In a town with a proven affinity for pickles and ball sports, we aren’t overly surprised that the term “pickleball” is basically trending in Portland circles. But what exactly is it? And how can newbies pick up a paddle and smash some plastic balls?
When a local woman-owned business called The Drop Shot reached out to us about its plans to build the city’s first indoor pickleball-only recreation center, we seized the opportunity to learn more. Co-founder Lindsay Noack explained that the sport — which started in the 1960s in Washington — can basically be played in any open, flat space and combines elements of badminton, ping pong, and tennis.
Noack attributes pickleball’s rise in popularity, in part, to the pandemic. People sought out ways to stay active and connect with others — and found something special in the sport. She believes Portland needs an accessible, welcoming, easy-to-learn game now more than ever. Enter: The Drop Shot. She hatched the business idea last summer after taking beginner pickleball lessons.
“What really opened my eyes was that you could be 8 or 80 and still be competitive,” she said. “It wasn’t a sport where age or ability discouraged participation. You don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest to be successful.”
Noack and her friend/business partner Maggie Deeks are working to open an indoor recreation center in the Central Eastside area by late summer that will house at least 10 indoor pickleball courts. It will welcome players of all ages — particularly women and gender-expansive people — to compete in a fun environment.