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Pickleball in NYC: 92Y offering classes and games

Pickleball is coming to the 92nd Street Y.

Pickleball is coming to the 92nd Street Y. Photo Credit: iStock

Do you pickleball?

Chances are likely no -- in New York City, there aren't any dedicated places to play the racquet sport, which has found a foothold particularly in retirement communities across the country and in Canada.

But starting Sept. 16, classes and games will be offered at the 92Y for both those interested in learning pickleball to aficionados who have picked it up while wintering in the south or playing in nearby areas like Fairfield, Nassau and Suffolk counties, where games are increasingly more common.

So what is pickleball, anyway?

"It's basically a cross between tennis, table tennis and badminton," said Jim Geary, a New York District Ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association who will be running the 92Y's nascent program.

The nearly 50-year-old sport is played on a court about half the size of a tennis court and with a lower net, with a wooden paddle and plastic ball. It has its own unique set of rules, and some of the big differences from a game like tennis are that the serve is underhand and you can only score points when serving.

Like other racquet sports, pickleball requires good hand-eye coordination and is "much more reliant on positioning the ball strategically, rather than overpowering the opponent," said Geary.

Most games are played as doubles, and its slower pace can make for a much more social game. There are also the health benefits of playing, too, from exercising mental faculties while keeping score to improving balance and agility to a cardio workout that is as light or as vigorous as you can manage.

"If nothing else, it gets people moving that might not have found a sport that they can continue to engage in, or ever were able to get involved in," said Stacey Eisler, director of 92Y's May Center for Health, Fitness and Sport. "It's equal opportunity."

Geary and Eisler both think pickleball has been slow to pick up in New York City because the real estate for a dedicated court is hard to come by (the 92Y is holding their pickleball sessions during the day so as to not compete with popular evening programming). But they're confident that it's only a matter of time before the sport gains traction.

"Take a place like Rochester, New York: it's a hotbed of pickleball, every town now has dedicated pickleball courts," said Geary. "I think with time, the same thing is going to happen here in Manhattan."

Pickleball sessions begin Sept. 16 and start at $154 (for seven); 92nd Street Y, Mack Gym, 3rd Floor North, 1395 Lexington Ave., 212-415-5714,

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