Ruth Younger of Loganville makes a return while playing pickleball at the YMCA. The facility offered free pickleball to attract new players.
Ruth Younger of Loganville makes a return while playing pickleball at the YMCA. The facility offered free pickleball to attract new players. (Bill Kalina — bkalina@yorkdispatch.com)

The distinct sound of a plastic Wiffle-type ball being batted with a paddle echoed through a gymnasium of the YMCA in York City.

As the yellow ball flew out of bounds, a sigh came from the team with the miss and a quick cheer came from the point-gaining team.

It's pickleball, a hybrid of pingpong, badminton and tennis rolled into one.

York City resident Lillian Morgan sees the humor in the unique sport with the strange name.

"There's something about it that makes me want to laugh when I play it," she said on a recent Sunday, following an open house at the YMCA to introduce potential players to the sport.

Morgan, who played the game once before, said part of the humor lies in the sound of the ball hitting a paddle and another part is the tools used.

Tools of the trade: Players use what has been described as over-sized pingpong paddles to whack the plastic ball filled with holes back and forth over a net.

"I'd put it between pingpong and tennis," said Larry Elliott, a longtime player hoping others will join the ranks.

The court is similar to one used in tennis, but that's where the similarities cease.

Unlike tennis, overhand serves aren't allowed in pickleball, Elliott said, and there are some other rule differences.

The Windsor Township man said he got his start in the sport five or six years ago when he spotted a game being played as he was driving a school bus in his native Michigan.

He stopped to check out the unusual action and quickly took it up.

"The guy let me use a paddle and I fell in love with it," Elliott said.

Though he prefers to play outside, Elliott said the YMCA offers the sport to members at various times throughout the week.

Hooked: Morgan said part of the sport's appeal is you can't take it too seriously. For the most part, games are friendly, but some do become quite competitive with players making some impressive moves to return the ball.

Marlyn Hahn of Manchester Township played his first pickleball game in November and has played a few times since. He said the game helps improve hand-eye coordination and, since it's played at a slower pace than tennis, appeals to older players and keeps them active.

But finding time for games between other exercise can be an issue for Hahn.

"I think it's a fun game," he said. "I'd like to play as much as I can."

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.