Have you heard of the game pickleball? If you ever go to a community center or senior center (and you should totally join one if you haven’t already), you’ve probably at least seen advertisements for games.
Pickleball combines features of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. The court is the size of a badminton court (44 feet by 20 feet). Players use paddles, similar to those used in table tennis, to hit the ball back and forth. However, pickleball paddles are larger than table tennis ones. The ball is similar to a Wiffle ball, with perforations over the surface.
Tennis courts can easily be repurposed for pickleball and usually are. Since a tennis court is larger, two pickleball teams can easily play on one tennis court. There are two ways to play pickleball -- singles or doubles. The rules are basically the same for either type of play.
In many ways, pickleball is easier to play than other racquetball-type sports. The perforations on the ball mean that less force is needed to hit it. The rackets are pretty large in comparison to the ball, so it’s easier to hit the ball. The court is smaller than tennis, so there is less running around, making the game easier on the players’ bodies. Playing doubles pickleball is most common, which means the court is easier to cover.
The rules make pickleball unique. The serving player usually hits the ball underhand (a drop serve is also permitted), to the diagonal quadrant on the opponents’ side. The opposing players have to let the ball bounce once before hitting it. The serving players also have to let the ball hit once on their court before returning.
After the first two volleys, players can either hit the ball straight back without bouncing or allow one bounce. More than one bounce is considered a fault.
The side that serves is the only one that can score points. They earn one point when the opposite team fails to hit the ball before it goes out of bounds or if they hit it after it’s bounced more than once. There’s also a non-volley zone, where no one can hit the ball. It extends 3.5 feet in either direction from the net. This prevents players from ‘spiking’ the ball. Players often call the non-volley zone ‘the kitchen’. As in, stay out of the kitchen!
Players serve and volley the ball back and forth until one team has reached 11 points and is ahead of the other team by at least 2 points.
Pickleball has gained in popularity a lot over the past few years. It was actually invented in 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The idea was to create a fast-paced game that the whole family could enjoy. They clearly succeeded, as the first pickleball tournament was held in 1984.
Pickleball was being played throughout the US by 1990. In 2001, pickleball was first played in the Arizona Senior Olympics. In 2003, Huntsman World Senior Games included a pickleball tournament for the first time. The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established in 2005. Today, it’s gaining popularity in Europe and Asia.
You can visit the official pickleball website to get a more detailed explanation of the rules. Once you’re there, check to see where you can play. With over 8,000 pickleball courts in the US, there’s sure to be one close to you. Be sure to check out a more in-depth history of the game, and don’t miss the excellent strategy tips!
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