What is Pickleball? All You Need to Know About This Sport

This weird-sounding game is an eclectic mix of different racket sports. If you’re a fan of tennis or ping pong, you’ll probably like to play pickleball as well. Keep reading to find out how to play this innovative sport!
What is Pickleball? All You Need to Know About This Sport

Last update: 22 February, 2020

Pickleball is a curious sport. This new discipline combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Because of its roots, pickleball is becoming increasingly popular! It’s a dynamic and entertaining sport: have you ever heard of it? In today’s article, we’ll cover everything you need to know!

Specialists in this sport say that it’s a very easy discipline to learn. For this reason, it’s an ideal game to practice with family or friends, just to have fun together. It’s so easy that in just a few minutes you’ll be ready to play and challenge your loved ones!

How was pickleball born?

Like so many others, this sport emerged as a way to have fun at home. Because the court is smaller than others are, you can easily install it in any yard without space issues.

Pickleball was created in the mid-sixties, in Bainbridge Island, Washington. The first record we have of a match is in the house of the politician Joel Pritchard. The man later worked in Congress and in the army of the US. However, many experts state the idea was from Barney McCallum, a friend who was with Pritchard.

The story is quite curious: the official pickleball site tells that the two friends set out to play badminton on a Saturday afternoon. Since they didn’t find the shuttlecock – the ‘ball’ – they decided to improvise by lowering the net and using paddles and balls they found in the house.

Basic Pickleball Rules

The rules of this sport are similar, as we said, to other racket sports such as tennis or badminton. Next, we’ll list the main ones:

  • You can play one against one (singles) or in pairs (doubles).
  • The main goal is to pass the ball over the net by hitting it with a paddle. You also need to prevent the opponent from returning the ball to your own field.

Pickleball playing field.

  • You need to only bounce the ball once within the limits of the opposing pitch. Thus, if you bounce outside, the shot will be invalid. If it touches the ground twice, the point is for the team that made the shot.
  • The service is crossed, starting from the right.
  • You can’t hit the ball without making it hit the floor while you have at least one foot inside the ‘no volley’ zone.
  • Only the player or the partner who scores can score points.
  • You or your team win the set or game if you or your team reaches 11, 15 or 21 points, with at least two points over the opponent. Each match consists of a maximum of three sets.
  • The ‘rule of the two boats’ indicates that the first shot of each player or team must forcefully hit the rival field. Once this occurs (that is, from the second shot of each player or team), you can hit the ball without letting it hit the floor.
Pickleball playing field

The field

  • The playing field is 40 feet long (13.4 meters) and 20 feet wide (6 meters). This is broken in the middle through a net. In addition, the field has another wide line that delimits the area of ​​‘no volley’ (2.1 meters). From there, you can’t hit the ball without it bouncing on the floor.
  • From the end of the ‘no volley’ zone to the bottom of the court, there’s a vertical line that divides the right side of the left side. Meanwhile, the network is placed at 0.91 meters from the ground.
  • One of the main strengths of the pickleball is that the rivals are very close to each other. This results in a fluid interaction between the two. In contrast, this doesn’t happen in other racket sports, where they are at greater distances of each other.
Paddles and ball on a pickleball court.

Items needed to play

On top of the court and the net, you’ll need a few other items. Of course, you’ll want a set of paddles and at least one ball to play pickleball. What sets it apart from table tennis is that the wooden paddle is larger – although it doesn’t weigh too much – and the ball has holes. Because of it, pickleball is slower than paddle tennis or tennis. This makes it a fairly tactical game with longer sets.

Although it isn’t an Olympic sport yet, pickleball is growing! Many countries now have their own team or federation. In addition, the equipment is cheap, although it might not be easy to get it in all countries. Do you dare to give it a try? Let us know what you think about it!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.