It might sound unusual but once you pick up a pickleball paddle, it will be familiar to fans of most racket sports.
Pickleball has a firm following overseas, and is quickly catching on here, with players of all ages getting involved. Just because it's popular among retirees, doesn't mean it can't be fast and furious.
"It's a combination of badminton, tennis and table tennis and all those skills, you put spin on the ball, score only on your own serve and you've got to control the ball," Mount Maunganui Pickleball Club President, Bob Smith said.
Just like most racket sports, control is key.
"A lot of tennis players come along who are very good at hitting a ball but it'll go sailing out of the court," said Smith. "You can have some very fast rallies at the net – you can have what they call a 'fire-fight' at the net with the ball going very, very fast, backwards and forwards."
Older players say it's easier on the body than tennis and badminton.
"Tennis involves a lot more running and jumping around. I'm not that mobile but I can manage to run around enough to get the ball back and forth. You can play it at any level," Tauranga resident Vivian Smith said.
All you need to pick up pickleball is a pickleball paddle. But the good ones don't come cheap.
"This is about $185," Bob said, holding up his square padder-tennis bat.
"It's a hard, plastic paddle designed to take impact from a hard shot at you, but also to give good control. When I first put it in my hand it was like an extension of my hands, so that was really good for a game of pickleball."
Mount Maunganui Pickleball Club plays three times a week.
"We have all sorts of people turn up," Bob said. "But they're morning sessions so it's mainly retired people or shift workers. We're moving to address that right now by looking at an evening session as well because we've had quite a few enquiries about evening pickleball."
Thanks to people like Bob, Pickleball could soon be coming to a school near you.
"We've just done a couple of sessions at a school and they're now looking at buying paddles, that's what the bat's called, and balls so they can have their kids playing regularly."
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