It seems like Hannibal has been a trendsetter in the sports world, since pickleball has been a popular activity for years.

Locally, players gather at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center daily during the winter and at Huckleberry Park in the summer. Hannibal Parks & Recreation leagues are full, along with Drop-in Pickleball, which allows players to hone their skills with other partners.

For those who haven’t caught the bug yet, a free class for anyone interested in learning about pickleball will be Jan. 3 from 6-8 p.m. in the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center. Tom Batenhorst, Hannibal Park Board president, will lead the class.

Jenna McDonald, recreation supervisor at Hannibal Parks & Recreation, said there are many reasons why people should play pickleball.

  • Pickleball is easier on the body. There’s a smaller court, about one-fourth the size of a tennis court so less ground to cover. McDonald said, “Pickleball is a low-impact sport that can be played by more people and many of the best players are in their 60s and 70s.”
  • Pickleball is inclusive. More people can play pickleball because it requires less space, is easier on the body and there’s a lower skill obstacle to start playing. McDonald said, “The veterans are always willing to teach others how to play.”
  • It’s inexpensive to play. It’s free to play during the day at the Rec Center, Huckleberry Park or the courts at Norfolk & Southern Multi-Sports Park. Paddles are available to borrow at the Rec Center, but relatively cheap to purchase, McDonald said.
  • Pickleball is great for your mental and physical health. McDonald said being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles and improve your ability to do everyday activities. “And just ask the pickleballers who play every day, they’ll tell you it helps relieve stress. They’re having a blast.”

No reservations are needed for Pickleball 101 on Jan. 3 but signup is required by Jan. 9 for a winter pickleball league that begins Jan. 17. Online registration is available here.