By Brandon Mackie
Local residents, from enthusiastic youngsters to active seniors, are taking to pickleball courts all around Truckee and North Tahoe, with the game’s straightforward rules making it easy for newcomers to learn how to play the game. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, and Truckee/Tahoe is no exception. It has found a fervent following in the area and is reshaping the region’s sporting landscape. So what accounts for this sport’s huge surge in popularity?
What is pickleball?
Pickleball seamlessly blends together elements of other rival racket sports such as tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, but is generally considered less strenuous and more inclusive. Participants, playing in either singles or doubles teams, use paddles to volley a perforated, hollow plastic ball over a 34-inch-high net. The goal is simple: maintain the rally until one side either fails to return the ball or commits an infraction.
Games are often played indoors, shielding players from the elements, but many prefer to play under the open sky in the leafy surroundings of local parks.
Beyond the thrill of the match, pickleball offers a myriad of health benefits. It can improve coordination and balance, and even enhance mental agility. Moreover, its adaptable pace makes it an excellent choice for those seeking the often difficult-to-find balance of fitness, fun, and social interaction.
Pickleball is gaining traction thanks to its relaxed, accessible atmosphere, low-impact gameplay, and socializing opportunities. The number of people playing pickleball grew by 159% over three years to 8.9 million in 2022, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Last year, a staggering 36.5 million pickleball players picked up their paddles and took to courts across the U.S., making it one of the most popular sports in the country.
Where to play in Tahoe/Truckee
Our area is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts, but pickleball is catching the eye of more and more residents. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newbie looking to get started, there are multiple pickleball courts in our region.
Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District
The Truckee Community Recreation Center is home to four indoor hard courts marked with taped lines and equipped with portable nets. These courts cater to both casual games and intense matches. Beyond the courts, the on-site restrooms and water fountains make for a comfortable playing experience. For those looking to play during peak times, there is a modest $6 drop-in fee on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The TDRPD does not take reservations; the courts operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Tahoe Donner Tennis Center
A blend of scenic beauty and state-of-the-art facilities, the Tahoe Donner Tennis Center is a paradise for pickleball enthusiasts who prefer playing outdoors. The center boasts two dedicated hard courts set against the backdrop of Truckee’s picturesque landscapes. With their permanent lines and nets, these courts promise a seamless playing experience.
Players can also use a range of amenities, from restrooms and drinking fountains to a well-stocked pro shop. And for those keen on honing their skills, coaches are available for lessons. While a one-time fee is required to access these facilities, it’s a worthy investment for the experience. Check out the center’s August pickleball calendar at tahoedonner.com if you don’t want to miss out on their lineup of events.
Olympic Valley Park
With a beautiful backdrop, Olympic Valley Park is one of the most popular places to play pickleball in the Tahoe area during warmer months. The park features three pickleball courts among other recreational activity options like hiking trails, bike trails, a playground, and picnic areas. Be sure to take advantage of this beautiful outdoor court while the weather permits.
North Tahoe Regional Park
The North Tahoe Public Utility District added new dedicated pickleball courts to the park in Tahoe Vista over the past summer, giving Tahoe residents and visitors another great location to play pickleball. With six courts, this facility is a great option during the busy, warmer season when other courts have a wait time. Note: The park has a $5 entrance fee.
Riverview Sports Park
The good news for pickleball players in Truckee is that plans to build even more courts are currently in development. Courts at the Riverview Sports Park will soon provide an idyllic setting. The 16 hard-surface courts, scheduled to be built by 2024, will have permanent lines and nets to make for a high-quality playing experience.
According to the Tahoe Truckee Pickleball Club, which is currently raising funds for this development, the courts will be open to the public and accessible to players of all ages and abilities. The club also hopes to build a stadium court for professional tournaments.
Tahoe/Truckee embraces the allure of pickleball wholeheartedly. Don’t miss out on this exhilarating sport that’s been sweeping the nation. Grab a paddle, join the fun, and discover firsthand why pickleball has been America’s fastest-growing sport for three years running. Get out and play today!
~ Brandon Mackie is co-founder and COO of Pickleheads. Once a competitive tennis player, these days Brandon can be found on pickleball courts where he lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Brandon is a 4.0 player who plays multiple times per week, and tests many pickleball paddles as part of his job at Pickleheads.