Have you heard of pickleball but aren't quite sure what it is? Pickleball has grown in popularity in recent years. In fact, CBS News has reported that “pickleball has become the fastest-growing sport in America, with nearly five million playing.”
So, what is this sport? Where did it come from, and where is it going?
Perhaps, more importantly, should you be playing pickleball?
In this blog, we'll explore all aspects of pickleball, from the origins to how to play, the benefits of playing, the necessary equipment to play pickleball, and what the future holds.
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a fun and fast-paced game perfect for people of all ages. It combines elements from tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Pickleball can be played on courts both indoors and outdoors. The courts resemble tennis courts, but are about half the size.
The rules of pickleball are easy to learn, making it great for beginners. But, there are advanced strategies players can deploy, which makes it great for more experienced players as well.
Besides the rules and play, all that's needed in pickleball is a paddle, a ball, and a court to play on. Oh, and someone to play with.
The Origins of Pickleball
Though it's become popular recently, pickleball has actually been around since 1965, when three fathers–Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, created it in Washington State, just outside Bainbridge Island. They were looking for a game that their entire family could play together and gathered a motley crew of sports supplies before heading over to badminton nets.
Soon, the nets were lowered, and a rule book was created.
While the game has evolved over the last 50-plus years, the heart of pickleball remains the same; it's a game open to all that people of all ages can enjoy.
How to Play Pickleball
To start playing pickleball, you need to understand how it's set up and some of the basic rules.
It is played with a paddle (slightly larger than a ping pong paddle) and a Wiffle ball, on a court that's 20 feet wide x 44 feet long, with a 34-inch high net (in the middle, 36 inches high along the side posts).
Pickleball is played either one versus one or two versus two. There are adaptations to play with three players, but most commonly, singles or doubles are played.
Only the serving team can score a point. If the non-serving team wins the rally, the serve goes to the next player or switches teams. The first team to score 11 points wins.
4. The 5 Basic Rules
The 5 basic rules of pickleball are:
- The ball must stay in bounds and can only be hit once per side.
- When each round begins, both sides must let the ball bounce once before hitting it.
- Serving must be done from behind the baseline (back line).
- The serve must land on the opposition's side, in the diagonal square from the person serving. It cannot land inside of or touch the line of the Non-Volley Zone (also known as the kitchen).
- Once a team gets to 11 points, they win. However, they must win by at least two points.
Of course, there's more than that!
Like any sport, there are other nuances and rules that must be followed to play the game properly. However, by understanding the basic rules, you can start competing and build from there!
The Benefits of Playing Pickleball
Pickleball can provide hours of entertainment. Besides this, pickleball can also increase activity and cardiovascular endurance. The fast-paced nature of the game gets your heart rate up while also building strength in your arms and legs as you move around the court. It can also help sharpen hand-eye coordination since players must quickly react when hitting the ball over the net.
On top of that, pickleball is excellent for social interaction as well! Games are typically played with two-to-four people, so you get to meet new people while having fun at the same time.
So if you want an activity that not only provides exercise but also helps build relationships, then pickleball could be precisely what you're looking for!
If you're looking to get into pickleball, the first thing you'll need is some equipment! Luckily, you won't need much – just a paddle, a ball, and a net. Paddles come in different shapes and sizes but typically have a wooden or composite surface with rubber grip handles for better control.
When choosing your paddle, try to find one that fits well in your hand and doesn't cause you to fatigue too quickly. Heavier paddles can provide more power while lighter ones give better maneuverability.
As for balls, they are made of hard plastic with holes all around them. The holes create air resistance and help the ball pass through the air slower than tennis balls.
Courts can be found across the United States. Many parks and recreational areas have transformed their tennis courts into pickleball courts or built new ones. Pickleball clubs also exist around the county.
Pickleball Terms You Should Know
When it comes to playing pickleball, chances are you’ve heard a few terms but don’t really know what they mean. Whether you’re completely new to the sport or just need a refresher, you should understand some common terms before you head out onto the court.
The "kitchen" is the 20' x 7' area also known as the non-volley zone near the net. It has its own unique set of rules, but the most important one to understand is that you can only step into the kitchen after the ball bounces.
A volley is a series of consecutive hits that don't allow the ball to hit the ground.
A "dink" is a shot that lands softly on the opponent's side of the net. A good dink shot will have a high arc and low bounce. It's used to slow down the game's pace and give you (and your team) more time to move about the court.
A shot that takes the ball high and deep, making the other team retreat back to the baseline.
Return of Serve
This is the shot immediately following the serve. The person hitting the return of serve must let the ball bounce before striking it.
Considered the most important shot of every match, this is the third shot–the serve is first and the return of serve is second. The serving team takes the third shot and must let it bounce once before hitting it.
Somewhere between a dink and a lob shot, the drop shot aims to fall softly inside of or close to your opponent's kitchen with a high arc. The goal of a drop shot is to force your opponent to a new position and buy yourself (and your partner) time to move.
Hitting the ball after it bounces.
In doubles, each player on the team gets a chance to serve–except for the very first serve of the game. Once player 1 loses the serve it goes to player 2. Once that player loses the serve it switches to the other team. The second serve represents player two's serve.
A rally is continuous play that happens after the person serving the ball hits it and before a fault or out-of-bounds occurs.
The Future of Pickleball
The future of pickleball looks bright! With its fast-paced and exciting nature, the game has quickly become one of the most popular sports in recent years. Not only is it a great way to stay active and have fun with friends, but it also promotes healthy competition between all levels of players. As more people continue to discover pickleball, there’s no limit to where this sport can go! Some are estimating that by the year 2030, it could attract more than 40 million players!
As far as what’s next for this beloved game? Currently, leagues are popping up all over and being invested in by celebrities and athletes alike. Tom Brady, LeBron James, Stephen Colbert, the Kardashians, and many more have all been linked to pickleball.
Someday, it may even become an Olympic sport!
Whether you’re looking for a way to add some variety to your exercise routine or just looking for a new game to play with friends and family, this exciting sport will have you hooked in no time.
Pick up a paddle today and prepare for hours of safe, competitive play!