A new racket gets hearts pumping


Bob Gerlach won a silver medal for badminton in the 75-79 age bracket at the  Pennsylvania Senior Games in York last year.
Since then, the Annville resident has picked up a new sport – Pickle-ball.

“I like it so far, but I need to play more, to get used to it,” he said after his first game at the Greater Elizabeth Area Recreation and Community Service Community Center gym on July 11. Gerlach said he heard of the game and wanted to give it a try.
“It’s more forgiving than tennis,” Gerlach said.

How to play
Two or four players use a square-shaped paddle to hit a plastic baseball with holes (similar to a wiffle ball) across a 2-foot net. The game is a cross between tennis, Ping-Pong, and badminton. The game is played on a badminton court inside at GEARS, but can be played outside on tennis courts, or even on the driveway.

Wood said with her heart problems, her doctor told her to keep active. In addition to Pickle-ball, she plays volleyball and badminton.

Pickle-ball was invented by U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard, his neighbor William Bell, and their friend, Barney McCallum, according to the official Pickle-ball website. The name came from a family dog, a Cocker spaniel named Pickles, who would run after the ball.

Jerry Lorson of  Elizabethtown has been playing for four years and offers tips on the game in addition to making the other players laugh.

“Stay out of the kitchen,” he said. The “kitchen” is the small 1-foot space in front of the net.
“You can go in the kitchen only when a ball lands in it, to return the ball,” Lorson said. Lorson isn’t quite sure why it’s called that. It’s just the game, he said.

About 10 people show up each Tuesday to play the game, but many members would like to see more get involved in the sport.

The game is open to all residents and nonresidents of all ages. Since the sport isn’t well known, Lorson encourages people to come and learn the game. The veterans  help newcomers to get up to speed.

Pat Wood, 80, of Elizabethtown, has been playing pickle-ball since GEARS began offering the game back in 2006.

“It helps me stay active,” she said.
“It’s good cardio, and it’s fun.”

Here’s a link to a video of the game.

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