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Austin is soon to be home to Texas' biggest pickleball facility, and for good reason. With leagues cropping up around the city, the sport is quickly being embraced by Austinites of all age ranges and skill levels.

If you haven't quite caught onto the new pickleball craze, here's a breakdown of everything you need to know before picking up a paddle.


What is pickleball?

A mixture between ping-pong, badminton and tennis, pickleball is a hybrid sport played on an indoor or outdoor badminton court with a slightly adjusted tennis net. The paddles are pickleball-specific but resemble ping-pong paddles, and a pickleball that resembles a wiffleball is used to play the game.

It's fun because it was designed to be. Three Seattle-area dads created the game to satisfy their easily bored kids in the summer of 1965.

The dads, Washington state Congressman Joel Pritchard and businessman Bill Bell took to an old badminton court to pass time during the dog days of summer and eventually became more into the game than the kids. Using ping-pong paddles and a wiffleball, the two improvised a new game heavily influenced by badminton and brought in Barney McCallum as their accomplice.

Their purpose: providing "a game that the whole family could play together."

What do I need?

Aside from a paddle and a wiffleball-esque pickleball, not much. As long as a pickleball or badminton court is nearby, everything's pretty much all set, and portable pickleball nets are also available. Pickleball does not require special uniforms or extra equipment, so the most important element to the game would be the pickleball paddle itself.

Here's a list of the 15 best pickleball paddles in 2021.

Where can I play?

Pretty soon, Austinites from all around will have access to Texas' largest pickleball facility.

Austin Pickle Ranch, which is expected to be finished this summer, will have 32 pickleball courts as well as non-pickleball facilities for sand volleyball, concert venues and outdoor pilates.

Until then, the city of Austin has a dozen pickleball locations dotted across the city.

Here are a few city locations alongside a some other community courts:

  • Alamo Recreation Center, 2100 Alamo St.- three outdoor, covered courts, with open play on Thursdays from 3–4 p.m.
  • Austin Tennis Center, 7800 Johnny Morris Road- eight lighted outdoor courts with permanent nets.
  • Bouldin Acres, 2027 South Lamar Blvd.- a hotspot for the city's pickleballers, Bouldin Acres is a restaurant and bar with two pay-to-play pickleball courts.
  • Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center, 808 Nile St.- one indoor court, with open play pickleball on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5:45 p.m.
  • Dittmar Recreation Center, 1009 W. Dittmar Road- four indoor pickleball courts, with free open play from 12-3 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Dottie Jordan Recreation Center, 2803 Loyola Lane- two outdoor courts and one indoor, with open play from 2-5 p.m. on Wednesdays.
  • Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 East Rundberg Lane- One indoor pickleball court, with open play from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • Hancock Recreation Center, 811 E. 41st Street- one outdoor court shared with basketball, no net provided.
  • Little Zilker Neighborhood Park, 2016 Bluebonnet Lane- some outdoor courts, no net provided.
  • Mt. View Neighborhood Park, 9000 Middlebie Road- two outdoor courts shared with tennis courts, no net provided.
  • Pan American Neighborhood Park, 2100 E. 3rd Street- three free-lighted outdoor courts.
  • Rosewood Neighborhood Park, 2300 Rosewood Ave.- two outdoor courts shared with tennis courts, no net provided.
  • South Austin Recreation Center, 1100 Cumberland Road- four indoor courts, with open play from 6-9 p.m. on Mondays. Two additional lighted outdoor courts.
  • Bethany Lutheran Church, 3701 W Slaughter Lane- Two indoor courts, $2 admission fee.
  • Cedar Park Rec Center, 1435 Main St.- Six indoor courts, $5 admission fee, with beginner's play from 9-11 a.m. on Mondays and open play from 8:30-12 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart Lane- Four indoor courts, $10 admission. Schedule: (JCC members free) 6:30-9:30 p.m Thursdays, 10 a.m.-1p.m. Fridays, 8-11 a.m. Saturdays.
  • The Quarries, 11400 N. Mopac Expy- three indoor courts, with open play at scheduled times throughout the week.
  • Veteran's Park, 2200 Veterans Drive- four outdoor courts, with open play from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Some schedules may be subject to change.

If you're looking to make it more competitive, several leagues of all skill levels are in play right now. Some leagues feature scheduled games and teams, provide equipment and uniforms, while others, called ladder leagues, have people play others of similar skill levels until they reach the top.

Here are a few leagues:

  • Greater Austin Pickleball- For a $25 yearly fee, you can join the Co-Ed Winter League, going on now.
  • The Austin Sports & Social Club- No league going currently, but co-ed leagues of all skill levels meet later in the year.
  • Pickleball Ladder League at Hill Country Indoor- For $60, you can join a spring league, but it is already underway. The league began on Feb. 26 and will continue through April 30, with members playing with players of similar skill levels and moving up the "ladder" if they do well. Access to the pickleball courts at the club are $40 monthly and offer unlimited access to courts even if not a league member.
  • 2021 Top 100 Pickleball League- players who register can challenge any player in the league at any point, with scores tallied up at the end of 2021.
If not in Austin, USA Pickleball has a list of over 500 clubs across the U.S. to choose from.

More leagues and locations can be expected as pickleball mania continues. As Austin waits impatiently for the highly-anticipated Pickle Ranch, there's still plenty of pickleball to go around in the capital city.

For more information, check out this Austin Pickleball Facebook group or USA Pickleball.

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