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FM Adult & Youth Athletic Clubs & Sports: FM Pickleball Club

Pickleball is a growing sport and community in the FM area, and the FM Pickleball Club has been at the forefront of creating space and providing resources and guidance to foster that growth. While there are many theories as to why the sport has taken off, ultimately you’ll hear the same response from most of its participants—it’s just fun.

Even though it seems like pickleball is still in its infancy compared to other sports, the FM Pickleball Club has been paving the path for its membership to grow exponentially, which consists of various ages, genders and abilities. The club, organized by a board, utilizes two main gyms in the area, Courts Plus Community Fitness and the Rustad Recreation Center, and both serve the group differently.

The Rustad

  • Different flooring, similar to a basketball court floor
  • More casual & less competitive environment
  • Possibility of sharing courts with those outside of the Club
  • Pay to play (facility entry free)

Courts Plus

  • Flooring for pickleball
  • More competitive environment
  • Dedicated space since courts are reserved for the Club
  • Pay to rent (facility court fee)

You’ll find players at either gym throughout the year, and in the summertime, members will utilize a variety of outdoor spaces. Sometimes, players will even get creative on where to set up, especially if they have their own net. But still, there is a barrier to the club’s growth: space to play.

Kathy Kirkeby and Twyla Anderson are two local pickleball players, as well as current and previous board members of the FM Pickleball Club.

“It’s interesting, for as many people who have become interested in this, we need more courts in this town,” Twyla said.

Pickleball was invented in 1965. There are a few stories as to how the game got its name, but one of the most interesting ones is that the game’s founders, the Pritchards, had a dog named Pickles!

The dream is to have a dedicated facility for pickleball, but for now, the board is focusing on new members. In January, the club had a clinic for beginners, to open up, encourage and engage the community. Attendees had a chance to learn some skills and receive some intermediate teaching. The board is hoping to have a more regularly scheduled calendar in the near future.

The focus may be on new members now, but it’s saying something that in the about four years since the FM Pickleball Club and board have been established, they haven’t had to put much effort into recruitment; people usually join the club organically.

As you play more, you develop better skills and move up in “levels.”

Last summer the club hosted its first league, and it’s something they’d like to see more of. When they’ve opened up registration for leagues and tournaments, they find that they fill up almost right

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Twyla Anderson (left) and Kathy Kirkeby (right) at the Courts Plus courts!

Here’s How It Works:

Pickleball is similar to if you were to combine tennis, badminton and ping pong. It is played on a smaller court than tennis, so the game itself is very compact. Most of the time, it’s played with doubles (two players per side of the net), but it can be played with singles.

While the game is similar to other sports, the paddle and ball used are unique to Pickleball. It is a quick game, where the ball is sent across the net fast by the paddle. It does involve quick movements and reflexes, players are not running long distances since the court space is relatively small.

The more players practice, the faster they can play, and in turn, the more competitive they can play as well.

Skill is broken down into numbers, starting with the beginner:

  • 2.5 (beginner)
  • 3
  • 3.5
  • 4+

As you play more, you develop better skills and move up in “levels.”

There is plenty to come of the FM Pickleball Club, for anyone who’s interested in playing or learning more, head to fmpickleball.com.

You can also reach out to the staff at Courts Plus Community Fitness or the Rustad Recreation Center for more information!

Written by Geneva Nodland

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