By Jenn Ingram.
Venice Beach is feeling more like Scotland yard than Southern California with gray clouds filling our skies almost daily. So if you are looking for a way to beat the beach blues, it might be time to give these two sports a try! Both Spikeball (an awesome game for the beach) and Pickleball (which requires a court) can certainly provide a fun mood-enhancer on an overcast day.
I started by trying a game of pickleball. It's one of the fastest-growing sports nationwide, and appeals to players young and old. This lively racquet sport played on a badminton-like court about 20 feet wide by 44 feet long with a net in the middle. Nets range about 34-36 inches high. Since it is a two to four-player game, I enlisted my son to play a game with me. Memorial Park in Santa Monica was packed with doubles games, so we chose to play a singles match at the more secluded Culver West Alexander Park in Los Angeles.
Pickleball can be played at all levels. Players use a paddle to hit a lightweight, hard plastic ball back and forth like in tennis. Players move horizontally across the court, changing sides when it’s your turn to serve. There is no set attire, but some decent shoes that provide lateral stability and some traction certainly help. I can’t say I’ll be playing competitively anytime soon, but it is so much fun and easy-to-learn.
The popularity of pickleball is spreading rapidly with a remarkable 85.7% increase in participation in 2022, according to the Pickleball Player website. It is estimated there are 8.9 million people playing pickleball across America. The sport has even gone up 158.6% from 2020 to 2023. If you would like to join a Meetup in Venice, you might want to try the Venice Beach Pickleball Program. It began in 2014, and they continue to hold matches at 8 a.m. at 1900 Ocean Park walk for a $3 entry fee.
Or perhaps you prefer to stick to the beach, whether the sun comes out or not. I chose to attempt another rapidly expanding sport and turned my attention to Spikeball. It’s a business enterprise that's become a sport, with more than 4 million players around the world, according to the Spikeball website. Spikeball is a fast-paced game that requires quick reflexes and is best played wtih 4 players. Players surround a small trampoline-like net. It is a good idea to set the net up where there’s ample space around it, the perfect game to play at the beach.
Photo Courtesy of Tristan Robinson
“It’s an oddly addicting game that can be played at all levels of competitiveness,” shared Tristan Robinson, 21, a local Venice resident who plays the sport in the sand with his friends.
The game begins with the first player bouncing the ball onto the center of the net, causing it to spring up towards the opposing team. Similar to volleyball, the opposing team must return the ball to the net within three touches. The objective is to keep the ball in play, volleying it back and forth until a player fails to return it within three touches or the ball hits the ground, earning the opposing team a point. After each point, the serving team rotates clockwise, ensuring each player gets a chance to serve. The rules prohibit throwing or carrying the ball, touching the net or net frame, and interfering with the opposing team’s ability to play the ball. A typical, exhilarating game of spikeball consists of 21 points.
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner looking for a new activity, both pickleball and spikeball offer an invigorating way to stay active, enjoy the outdoors, and forge new social connections. Don’t miss out on these exciting sports trends!
Author: Jennika Ingram