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Ever heard of pickleball? Tampa Pickleball Academy teaches people interested in playing

Courts and leagues are popping up all over the Tampa Bay area.

TAMPA, Fla. — Pickleball — it's been dubbed one of the fastest-growing sports in America. You may have heard of it or even seen it, as courts are popping up in parks all over the Tampa Bay area.

Some of those courts are replacing old, unused tennis courts.

It's pretty easy to get started playing the game. You can buy a packet of paddles and balls then find some friends to start a game. 

"Pickleball is a game similar to tennis, similar to badminton, ping pong, kind of a lot of elements of a lot of different sports. But its it's own unique game with it's own unique rules," Greg Goodson said. He played tennis for 30 years, but when he found out about pickleball in 2018, he never looked back. 

"It's a fun game to play, easy to learn. It doesn't matter what level, you're going to find people at a very similar level to find competitive games and have a great time," Goodson explained.

Goodson has now started Tampa Pickleball Academy to teach others interested in playing, and he travels all over the country to play tournaments. 

"There are so many tournaments going on. There are so many different places to play," he said. "We travel. We've gone to Las Vegas, Utah, Michigan so we've traveled all over the country. Actually, I've been to England and played with some people over there."

He says one of the best parts about the game is that anyone can do it. 

"There are tournaments where there are 80-year-olds playing together," Goodson explained. "There's a little kid that was 9 years old that signed a contract with a pickleball company. So all ages now, especially the younger group more and more."

Many parks around the Tampa area are putting in pickleball courts, even homeowners associations are adding them to part of the neighborhood amenities. 

A quick Google or Facebook search can hook you up with local groups that play regularly.

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