If you ever find yourself in a pickle, you might just be having fun. A group of 33 or so mostly senior citizens regularly... Pickleball is game of choice among many seniors
Jared Dieffenbach and Kevin Sutton play Friday, March 29.

If you ever find yourself in a pickle, you might just be having fun.

A group of 33 or so mostly senior citizens regularly join to play pickleball.

The game was invented on Bainbridge Island west of Seattle in 1965 and has begun to catch on locally, said Chester resident Daryle Hurt, who helped organize pickleball games at his church, Swift Creek Baptist, five years ago.

The game – which features a paddle made of graphite, fiberglass or a composite material and a ball similar to a wiffle ball – has a court about 60 percent the size of a tennis court and a net that is 34 inches tall, two less than a tennis court (at the center of the court), Hurt said.

The games – which are held Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – are sponsored by Colonial Heights Senior Center.

“It started as a church outreach,” Hurt said, noting that Elaine Thompson from the senior center also helped.

Hurt said games feature two people per team and are co-ed.

The fast-paced game goes to 11 points and a team needs to win by two. Serving is done underhanded, below the waist, and the first two strikes must result in the ball bouncing once. Afterward, balls may be hit in mid-air. The “kitchen” is an area 6 feet from the net in which a player cannot go unless the ball is in that area.

“Within six weeks of playing, you can increase your flexibility and mobility by 100 percent,” Hurt said. A player averages 675 steps per game, he said.

He notes that camaraderie is important for seniors. Fourteen locals were playing indoors at the South Chesterfield church on Friday, March 29, and all seemingly had a good time.

Bill Dick, 70, has been playing for 14 months and loves the game. His wife, Peggy, 68, likes it too. “She never did like sports, but she has latched onto pickleball,” he said.

Hurt cautions that the game will help “unmask” any problems one has. Disputanta resident Vicki Robinson began playing the sport 10 years ago, but suffered a heart attack on the court in December 2013, she said.

“It’s social. It’s the best sport there is,” Robinson said. “Ninety percent of people can play it.”

The sport was invented by three men – U.S. Rep. Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum and Bill Bell – who wanted to find something for their bored kids to do after the men returned from playing a morning of golf. The men used a badminton court and ping-pong paddles.

“They did it for the kids, but the adults soon took over,” Hurt said.

Robinson noted that the sport was named after a dog named Pickles, who kept running off with the ball.

Other locations that offer pickleball are Harry Daniels Park, 6600 Whitepine Road, and Rockwood Park, 3401 Courthouse Road. Goyne Park behind Ecoff Elementary has courts that can be used for either tennis or pickleball. Hopewell Recreation Center offers games Monday and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m., but charges a $3 fee per game, Dieffenbach said.

The Chesterfield Career and Technical Center on Hull Street Road plans to have a grand opening of 12 pickleball courts on May 1, Hurt said.