Pickleball gives Bruce a new lease on life

Sunshine Coasters Glenice Ault and Bruce Winther won the Seniors (over 50) players of the year for Pickleball Association Queensland.

By Tania Phillips

Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has taken Australia by storm with competitions and social clubs popping up all over the country.

And according to Sunshine Coast player Bruce Winther, who has just returned from Sydney with a bag of National medals, Queensland is leading the way.

“I’ve been playing for about four and a half years at Noosa and Mooloolaba and in as many tournaments around Australia as I can get to,” Bruce said.

“I was a good tennis player and I loved my tennis but about 10 years ago I hurt my knee at work and discovered I had a lot of arthritis and after I retired I was looking for something. I’d heard about Pickleball very vaguely and I wondered if my knee could take it and it can. So, I went up to Noosa Leisure Centre and I was warmly welcomed and I’ve been playing ever since.

“It’s a great game for any age but it is particularly great for people who have had an active life with badminton or squash or tennis – sports like that and maybe they are suffering from a shoulder or knee injury. It gives them something to do, especially if you just play doubles, isn’t quite as wearing on your body. Although if you want to you can play singles and you can play as many times as you like.

“You can challenge yourself, there was a big tournament in Sydney with lots of 25-year-olds playing as well so it can be a challenging sport for younger people but it’s such a great sport for older people as well.

“It’s such a growth sport too,” he said.

“As a past president of Pickleball Queensland which is the biggest participant state in Australia, it’s amazing how quickly the number of both registered and casual players are growing. We’ve gone from none to 2,700-800 in just four years. But if you think about casual players who aren’t registered, they just turn up and play at a venue from time to time there would be between 10 and 15000 people playing in Queensland alone.

“Currently, because we jumped ahead, we probably weren’t constricted as much by Covid as NSW and Victoria were. They are starting to catch up now. Their numbers are growing very quickly as well.”

Bruce said there were a myriad of reasons why the sport was growing so fast.

“It’s an easy game to pick up if you’ve played any type of sport or even if you haven’t,” he said.

“You could be playing the game in half an hour quite easily. It is nowhere near as hard as tennis because you haven’t got a long handle. The paddle you are using is like a beach bat made from carbon fibre so it’s easier to hit the ball. It’s an underarm serve so that requires a little bit less co-ordination. And the rules are pretty simple, they are like badminton, table tennis and tennis with some small variations so it’s quick to get into it.

“It’s a very social sport so when you go to play you usually sign up to play for a two-hour session and you play pretty much the whole time.

“Then generally people hang around for a coffee or a chat afterwards. It creates a social group as well and they’re not just age related. I play a lot of tournaments so I get along with the 25-40 year olds as well as my age group.”

There are about 12 venues on the Sunshine Coast for those wanting to take up the sport from Noosa Tennis and Noosa Pickleball Clubs right down the Coast to Caloundra where the Sunshine Coast Pickleball Club run a lot of sessions out of the indoor stadium. You can find the venues on apps including Meet Up and Open Sports Clubs or get on Facebook and find them as well.

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