At first glance, you may think that Pickleball is just a form of leisurely tennis, and that’s how it started. Today, it has evolved into so much more and competitive matches are on the rise.
Being fairly new for a sport, Pickleball is a fun racket game which takes elements from other games like tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.
It got its start back in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. When the creators couldn’t find a shuttlecock for their badminton game, they got the idea to use a wiffle ball and plywood paddles, and improvised a different kind of game that their bored families could enjoy on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Thus, Pickleball was created, and the rest is sporting history.
From its humble origins, Pickleball has gone on to enjoy growing popularity in the United States, and there is now an International Federation of Pickleball governing its rules and players.
Pickleball is usually played with two or four players. Each player is equipped with a paddle and lobs a ball—a variation of the wiffle ball—until one side commits a fault. Are you now interested to learn more about Pickleball? Well, this guide is just what you need to help you get started.
“It got its start back in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. “
The Pickleball Court
Before you pick up your paddle, you must familiarize yourself with the Pickleball court and its different sections.
The Pickleball court is sectioned like a badminton court and is 20-by-44 feet large. If you’re standing on the baseline—the one 22 feet away from the net— and facing the net, the section on your right is called the right service court. The one to your left is the left service court.
The section nearest the net is called the non-volley zone, although some seasoned players also like to call it by its nickname, “the kitchen”. Why is it called the kitchen? Well, no one can say for sure, but it’s generally believed that it’s a borrowed term from shuffleboard.
Let’s face it–you can’t play a game without the proper gear. Here’s what you need to know about the gear you need so you can play Pickleball like a champ.
The Pickleball net is stretched 20 feet wide, right at the center of the court. At the sides, the net is hung by the pegs at 36 inches from the ground. It is normal to have the middle of the net sag, but its height should be around 34 inches.
Although it can be called a racket game, Pickleball actually uses paddles. Although it comes in a standard size, a Pickleball paddle can vary when a player prefers playing with a different kind.
Some paddles can reach up to 24 inches wide, but this size sacrifices their height and reach. Meanwhile, some paddles are also elongated up to 17 inches but have to give up a few inches off the side.
Their grip size varies, too. The grips can start at four inches in circumference and can be up to four-and-a-half inches long, depending on the player.
The most common paddles are made of wood. Hobbyists and professional players prefer to use graphite paddles or composite paddles, which is a mix of wood and graphite.
A standard Pickleball is made from perforated plastic which helps it bounce around easily on the court. It also has holes that go all the way through for less air resistance. It comes in a bright yellow color, which helps players spot it when playing.
According to the updated Pickleball rulebook, the ball’s size can range from 73 millimeters in diameter to 75.5.
Although this is usually settled with a coin toss, the first server is decided on however the players want, as long as both sides agree to the method of selection.
When serving, the player has to step outside the baseline. They must make sure that they don’t step across the baseline until their service has been returned
If you are serving from the right service court, you have to aim your serve at the opposing team’s right service court, which is the court section diagonally opposite yours. If you are serving from the left service court, you aim for the opponent’s left service court.
If you’re on the receiving team when a service is made, you have to wait for the ball to bounce on the service court before returning it. The returning volley should also never land in the kitchen and should land on the opponent’s service court, else it will be considered a fault.
A team or a player will earn scores once the opposing team or player makes a fault. Here’s a list of the faults in Pickleball:
- Missing the serve into the opponent’s service zone
- Making the ball land before or on the net
- Missing the opportunity to return the ball
- Letting the ball bounce twice on your side of the court
- Taking the ball out of bounds
- Hitting the ball before the service bounce
In standard games, the first team or player to reach eleven points, while being ahead by two or more points, wins the game. In a more professional setting, they may raise the ante up with 15 or 21 points.
If the two teams or player are tied at 10—like in badminton and tennis—each side must race to win by two or more than two points. This extends the game and takes the game out of the usual 11 points.
If you’re looking for a leisurely sport to keep you active and healthy, then Pickleball might be just what you’re looking for. It offers a lot of challenge and opportunity to socialize with other players or enthusiasts. So, put on your tennis shoes and get yourself a paddle as you get your blood pumping with a game or two!