DOUGLAS, Isle of Man – The Isle of Man is preparing to host its first ever pickleball festival this weekend, with approximately half of the registered players making the trip over from the UK to participate. The fledgling sport, which combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, has been steadily gaining popularity on the island over recent years. Now, the Isle of Man is ready to showcase pickleball on a grander scale and share the enjoyment of the game with pickleball lovers from near and far.
The festival is set for Saturday and Sunday at the National Sports Centre in Douglas and already has 80 players signed up to compete. Chris Hall, an avid island pickleball player, shared that the event will “showcase the sport and hopefully get people to pick up a paddle.” The aim is to promote growth and development of pickleball locally and give visitors a taste of just how fun this sport can be for all ages.
Participation within the island pickleball community has been on the rise as Hall explained, “it is simple to pick up the rules and its good exercise, with long rallies and drop shots.” Of the 80 players registered, around 40 traveled from various parts of the UK, including one player who made the long journey from the United States.
The festival games will be friendly doubles matchups between players of similar skill levels. There will be no round robins, leagues, knockouts, or trophies – just good competition and camaraderie. Hall stated, “It’ll be great to play with new people, and should make for some good quality pickleball.”
In addition to quality pickleball, visitors to the island will be able to enjoy the many sights and attractions the Isle of Man has to offer during their stay. The island is known for its natural beauty, heritage sites, and unique culture.
The festival was organized by the Ellan Vannin Pickleball Club, founded in early 2021. Their goal is to nurture the growing popularity of pickleball on the island and make the sport accessible to anyone interested in giving it a try. The club offers coaching programs and open court time to develop players’ skills.
Hall encouraged anyone curious about pickleball to come observe some of the festival games and see if they want to join in on the fun. He emphasized that the sport is easy to learn and great exercise with long volleys and strategic drop shots.
Pickleball first emerged in the 1960s but has exploded in popularity worldwide over the past decade. Part of the appeal is the minimal equipment required – just simple wooden paddles and pickleball balls slightly smaller than a tennis ball. Courts can be created virtually anywhere there is a hard, flat surface.
The sport’s growth has been especially noticeable in many retirement communities, as it is lower impact than tennis but still gets players moving. However, pickleball has proven enjoyable for children too. The game moves fast, and the smaller court size (similar to badminton) allows younger players to cover ground quickly.
Given the ease of learning and multi-generational appeal, it seems inevitable pickleball will continue gaining momentum worldwide. The first Isle of Man Pickleball Festival indicates the island is eager to share the excitement of this up-and-coming sport. If the inaugural event is a success, it may well become an annual tradition.