Accessibility and Inclusivity

How Accessible Is Pickleball for New Players?

Chris Betoi, a serious wheelchair tennis player, claims getting proficient at pickleball is easier than in tennis.

Below are four reasons that make pickleball accessible for new players, especially people with disabilities.

  • Bigger wheelchair pickleball courts: A wheelchair pickleball court measures 74 feet long by 44 feet wide.
  • It’s easy to learn: Betoi and Wiggle Your Toes planned two introductory pickleball clinics for amputees in the Twin City Area. While most of the players were complete beginners to rackets and pickleball, it only took 30 minutes of instructions for the newbies to master the game and transition from the drills to the actual games.
  • Availability of programs that specifically introduce pickleball to adaptive players: There is an increasing number of How-to clinics for amputees. Mary Free, Hanger, Kemit-Amon Lewis, and Wiggle Your Toes are some of the people who have hosted adaptive clinics.
  • Flexible pickleball rules: According to the USA Pickleball rules, wheelchair pickleball players may allow the ball to bounce twice before returning it. The second bounce may land anywhere in the court. Also, when volleying, the front wheel of a wheelchair may touch the kitchen area.

Is Pickleball the Game and the Community Inclusive for Players With Disabilities?

Yes, pickleball is an inclusive sport that even disabled individuals can join and play.

Pickleball has made it easy for disabled people to play by:

  • Designing a smaller pickleball court that reduces movement. This makes it easy for people in wheelchairs to play. Also, sports wheelchairs increase the court maneuverability of disabled individuals.
  • Including custom grips on paddles to help players with limited grip strength or hand dexterity 
  • Designing wheelchair-friendly, slightly softer balls that offer better bounce and control on the pickleball court.

Organizations like Adaptive Pickleball by Sandy Halkett strive to enhance the lives of individuals with diverseabilities through the fun sport.