Nightly News   |  March 18, 2014

Pickleball: The Fastest-Growing Sport in America

Find out why the pickleball craze is sweeping the nation.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, if you're like me, the older you get, the better you were as an athlete back in the day. most folks still feel like they have a lot of fight left in them, even if they can't cover as much ground as quickly as back in the day. that may explain the rise of a sport growing in popularity. if you heard of pickleball or you already play it, then you know. if you haven't heard of it, you're about to get a crash course in the game.

>> reporter: if the pickleball craze has not yet hit your town, stand by, it's on its way. pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in america, and can be played by just about anyone. including 91-year-old lee kritzer, vying for a medal at a pickleball tournament in del ray beach, florida.

>> it gets you exercise, it's fun, social and competitive.

>> reporter: pickleball was invented almost 50 years near seattle. a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. it's played with a whiffle ball on a short court.

>> you can compete with the younger people by using your head. while they try to use their speed. you out think them.

>> reporter: watching this game being played, you might wonder why it's called pickleball . over the years it's been widely reported it's been named after the inventor's dog, pickle. the inventor's wife said the name actually came from a sport of rowing, where a pickle boat has a mixed crew. the american pickleball capital may well be the villages, a huge retirement community near orlando. even with 140 pickleball courts, players form lines each morning to get a game. these women are passionate, much friendly competitors.

>> every wednesday we start off with golf in the morning.

>> then we go to lunch. and then we play pickleball .

>> that's our triathlon.

>> reporter: the game is spreading around the world. and easy has more than 150,000 players. a fun, fast moving sport with a funny name . mark potter , nbc news, orlando.