Pickleball Playbook: From First Serve to Fully Equipped

Pickleball, a rapidly growing sport that cleverly combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, has captivated players worldwide with its unique charm and accessibility. It’s a sport that combines fun, strategy, and physical activity in a way that’s accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.

Using pickleball paddles and a plastic ball with holes, you can start playing by picking up select equipment pieces. Whether you’re playing on indoor or outdoor pickleball courts, the right gear is key to mastering this engaging and fast-growing sport. Learn about pickleball, the essentials you need to get started, and popular tournaments to check out, no matter your experience level. 

Understanding Rules, Rackets, and Rallying Points
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At its core, pickleball is a paddleball sport where players aim to score points by hitting a perforated polymer ball over a net and into the opposing team’s court area. The game can be played as singles or doubles, similar to tennis, but on a smaller court. 

Pickleball courts measure 20×44 feet, which is about a quarter the size of a tennis court, making the game more accessible and less physically demanding. 

Players use paddles smaller than tennis rackets but larger than ping-pong paddles to serve and return the ball. Specialized pickleball shoes are designed to provide the grip and support needed for the quick lateral movements typical in a game.

The History of Pickleball

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington, by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The game was born out of the creators’ desire to entertain their families with a fun and engaging backyard sport. 

Initially, they improvised with ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball, playing on a badminton-sized court. The name “pickleball” is rumored to have been inspired by the Pritchards’ family dog, Pickles, who would chase the ball during games, though some accounts suggest it was named after the term “pickle boat,” referring to the last boat to return with its catch.

Rules of Pickleball

Pickleball rules promote a fair and enjoyable game. Here are some key rules:

  • The Court: Pickleball is played on a rectangular court with dimensions 20×44 feet, divided into two equal halves by a net that stands 36 inches high at the ends and 34 inches in the middle.
  • Serving: The serve must be made underhand, with the paddle below the waist, and the ball must be hit in the air without bouncing. Serves are made diagonally, starting with the right-hand service square.
  • Scoring: Games are typically played to 11 points, and a team must win by at least 2 points. Points can only be scored by the serving team.
  • The Two-Bounce Rule: After the serve, the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning it, and then the serving team must also let it bounce once before continuing the volley. After these two bounces, players may volley the ball (hit it in the air without letting it bounce) or play it off a bounce.
  • The Non-Volley Zone: Also known as the “kitchen,” this is a 7-foot area on both sides of the net where players are not allowed to volley the ball. Players can step into the kitchen to play a ball that bounces but must exit before playing a volley.

Pickleball’s blend of ease of play, strategic depth, and social nature has contributed to its meteoric rise in popularity. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete looking for a new challenge or someone seeking a fun way to stay active, pickleball offers something for everyone.

Learn more about the pickleball equipment and attire that can enhance your performance on the court and ensure you’re fully ready to enjoy this dynamic and rapidly growing sport next.

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