South Confederation Park serving up a new sport

South Confederation Park serving up a new sport

The popular game of pickle ball has recently found a new outdoor home in Thorold

Photo: Pictured (l-r) Sue Den Besten, Jancie Kroetsch, Kate Lammers and Nancy Nowicki enjoy the popular game of pickle ball, courtesy of South Confederation Park’s newly painted tennis courts. Bob Liddycoat / Thorold News

Two tennis courts in South Confederation Park have been revamped to serve a dual purpose.

In response to a request from Thorold’s Age-Friendly committee, new yellow lines have been painted inside the white tennis boundaries on both courts, allowing fans of the rapidly growing sport to play pickle ball—which is particularly popular among seniors, said Jean D’Amelio Swyer.

As chair of the Age-Friendly committee, “We want to let people know that it’s free to use and it’s a great way to exercise in the summertime,” she told ThoroldNews. At the Thorold park, “The courts are lit at night so they can play when it’s cooler,” D’Amelio Swyer added.

Described by Sue Den Besten as being “like badminton, tennis and table tennis,” Janice Kroetsch agreed: “It’s a real mixture of sports.”

And while still providing a decent workout, pickle ball courts are slightly smaller than tennis, and the game requires a plastic ball that doesn’t bounce as much as a tennis ball, so it means less running, and “not as much pounding on your legs,” explained Den Besten. The tennis net is also lowered while playing pickle ball, making it easier to lob the ball.

For Kroetsch, “It’s a very social thing, too. You need at least four people because it’s mostly doubles.”

The social aspect—as well as exercise—is critical to maintaining seniors’ health, said D’Amelio Swyer.

“Weak social connections are proven to carry a health risk, equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, equivalent to being an alcoholic, more harmful than not exercising, and twice as harmful as obesity,” she added, quoting a 2019 Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging presented by Dr. Parminder Raina of McMaster University.

Thorold’s Age-Friendly committee continually strives to maintain recreational opportunities for older adults, as well as enhance social participation, recreation, outdoor spaces and communications.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “An age-friendly community encourages active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.”

For those who prefer indoor sports in the summertime, the Thorold Community Activities Group (TCAG) offers pickle ball in air-conditioned facilities all year long. More information is available on their website.