Tennis-Badminton-Table Tennis Combination Sports Increased from about 100 to 2,800 people in 2017 “Easy to learn and thrilling to play…” “I’m hooked.”
Dohee Kim started learning pickleball with her father at the end of last year.
“There are people who have never played pickleball, but there is no one who has played pickleball only once.”
These are the words of Kim Hong-young (57), who has been in pickleball for one year. Ms. Kim first encountered pickleball when her daughter Dohee (26), who had been living in the United States, returned to Korea at the end of last year. “Her daughter said, ‘I played it with her friends and it was so much fun,’” Kim said. ‘I wish my dad would do the same,’ she said, giving him a paddle (racquet) as a gift. “She went to a club near her house and started learning with her daughter, and she went to some competitions, and already a year has passed,” she said with a laugh.
Dohee said, “There aren’t many activities that father and daughter can do together, so it’s nice to be able to spend time with my dad. She also said, “It’s easy to get into, but the more you play, the more you learn, so it’s very addictive.” The father and daughter, who also earned their pickleball referee certification this year, plan to participate in the Asian Open mixed doubles to be held in Phuket, Thailand in February next year.
Pickleball is loved as a sport enjoyed by people of all ages and genders, as it is evaluated as having all the charms of badminton, table tennis, and tennis.
Pickleball is a sport in which a net is set at a lower height (86 cm) than tennis in the middle of a 6.1 m wide and 13.4 m long court, similar to badminton, and players exchange hollow plastic balls with paddles larger than ping pong sticks. The ball is larger than a tennis ball, but because it has holes, its speed is about one-third. It was originally a game designed for children to enjoy in their ‘backyard’. However, it would be difficult to conclude that pickleball is merely recreational. In the United States, the home of pickleball, there are also professional leagues such as the Professional Pickleball Tour (PPA) and Major League Pickleball (MLP).
The growth rate is also fast in Korea. The pickleball population, which was about 100 in 2017, has now increased to about 2,800. The number of clubs also increased from 3 in 2017 to 60. Lim Chae-seon (61), principal of Saetbyeol Middle School and president of the Korea Pickleball Association, said, “Pickleball is easy for anyone to learn. “Students at our school are also learning pickleball during the free semester system in the first semester and through after-school classes,” he said. Principal Lim got into pickleball when the Geochang Pickleball Club, one of the first clubs in Korea, applied to use the school gym.
Since the basic principles of the game are the same as those of other racket sports, there is a large influx of elite players in badminton, table tennis, and tennis. Kwon Mi-hae (23), the No. 1 female pickleball player in Korea, is a former college tennis player. She coaches tennis during the day and plays pickleball at night. Mr. Kwon said, “Although pickleball is similar to tennis, it is difficult to advance to a high level with tennis skills alone, and you need tactics tailored to pickleball.”
Currently, the top male ranking is Kim Eung-kwon (24), an active table tennis player for Seoul City Hall. Kim Eung-kwon, who fell in love with pickleball in college, did not give up the paddle even after starting his career as a professional table tennis player. Kim Eung-kwon said, “Pickleball doesn’t have a big swing, so it doesn’t affect table tennis. He said, “Compared to a table tennis ball, the ball is heavier and moves faster, so it feels exhilarating when you pass it over.” Mihae Kwon and Eungkwon Kim also dream of performing professionally in the United States. 19가이드03