Aitkin Area Pickleball Association coach Dr. John Newstrom responds
What is the AAPA?
AAPA is the Aitkin Area Pickleball Association—a large and growing group of local women and men who are passionate about learning and playing the exciting game of pickleball. Objectives are to make available the necessary equipment (nets, paddles, balls), provide basic pickleball instruction and additional coaching, administer guidelines for the optimum use of available courts, work cooperatively with other relevant groups, and foster goodwill, sportsmanship, and fellowship among our members.
Where can you play locally?
In the Aitkin area, we have access to a beautiful private court near Blue Lake, as well as summer use of the AHS tennis courts and winter use of school gymnasiums. In McGregor, year-round access to high school gymnasiums is provided. In nearby Crosby, eight courts are lined for pickleball at the C-I tennis courts. In Palisade, the former Swanson park tennis courts are now brightly lined for two pickleball courts there.
Is it difficult to learn how to play?
Not at all. Pickleball 101: Introduction to Pickleball is taught during a two-hour session, and covers court safety, basic rules, how to serve and return the ball, the unique scoring system, elements of strategy, and recommended positions to stand while on the court at the beginning of each point.
When is it taught?
PB 101 is regularly offered through Community Education programs at all three area schools. In addition, the course is available on demand (for free) by qualified instructors whenever four or more people are interested in learning the sport.
Is the equipment expensive?
Individual equipment involves a decent pair of court (tennis) shoes and a paddle. Both can generally be purchased for a total of about $100. Although heavy wooden paddles were the first ones made, they have largely been replaced with newer (lighter) materials such as graphite, aluminum, fiberglass, or vinyl. Balls are provided at the pickleball courts, and come in a rainbow of colors (white, yellow, lime, pink, red, blue).