Pickleball, an intergenerational sport combining tennis, table tennis and badminton

Stéphanie and Ronan during a doubles game. – DP / 20 minutes

  • Every Thursday, in its “off-field” section, “20 Minutes” explores new spaces for expressing sport, unexpected, unusual, clever or booming.
  • Today, let’s discover pickleball, a sport invented in the United States and widely practiced there.
  • This discipline, of which Nantes is a stronghold in France, is practiced at any age.

Three racket sports in one, here is pickleball. This discipline, coming straight from the United States, mixes badminton for the size of the field, tennis for the net and table tennis for the grip of the racket. The history of
creation of this sport in the 1960s in the United States ready to smile. “One day, a retiree, who was with his family in his garden, lowered the net and played with wooden rackets so that everyone could play,” said Ronan Le Roch, president of the
pickleball Nantes. He made his own rules. And since he didn’t know what to call the sport, he named it after his dog: Pickle [cornichon en anglais]. “

Three to five million people now play across the Atlantic. In France, the discipline, which can be played both indoors and outdoors, arrived only seven years ago (a thousand or so practitioners in France). For four years, Nantes has become a national benchmark. Saturday, eight courts of
pickleball, financed by the town hall, will be inaugurated at the Sèvre playground and a tournament will follow. It was in 2017 that this sport made its appearance in the city of the dukes under the leadership of Ronan Le Roch. “I played a lot of tennis, but I was often injured. One day I typed “light tennis” on the internet and came across pickelball. “Because it is a specificity of this discipline,” it is not a sport based on physical strength “.

The pickleball ball. – HB / 20 minutes

The composite racquet dampens the power of the ball, which is “plastic, very light and riddled with small holes.” The service is done with a spoon for example. It is therefore out of the question to send “a concrete block” as in tennis. “It is a very accessible sport for everyone, intergenerational and which is not traumatic for the joints of the upper body. “The premier category is mixed doubles and it shows how” the balance of power is very light “.

At pickleball Nantes, a club affiliated with the Ufolep (French Union of secular works of physical education), there are almost 80 of them who meet several times a week to sweat. At the same time, those in charge are promoting a discipline which is becoming more and more democratic in the colleges of the agglomeration. “Nantes town hall helps us a lot to make ourselves known,” recognizes Ronan Le Roch. She generally likes lesser-known sports such as floorball or kinball. “And Nantes can be proud of having in its ranks the number 1 French: Dimitri Rabiller, a 25-year-old PE teacher.

We tested for you…

Playful, technical and a little physical if you don’t want to lose … We tested double pickleball. Accompanied by Yves, the dean of the club, we beat (after a little adaptation time to understand the placement and the counting of points) Stéphanie and Axel in two very tight sets after a meeting with twists and turns. We wet the t-shirt for a nice success. Despite our past forty springs, not a pain, not a stiffness the next day.



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