WHAT IS PICKLEBALL?
You want to learn how to play pickleball, lets first look at the sport that has become so popular. It is not very often that a new sport gets created, let alone liked, popularized and played by thousands. Well, that is exactly what happened with pickleball! If you are looking for something fun to do with your friends and family, let me introduce the game of pickleball to you. Pickleball is a racquet sport that can be played by people off all ages and all sorts of skill levels. Imagine taking ping-pong and morphing it with tennis and badminton. Now you have pickleball. Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court either inside or outdoors. All you need is a paddle, a plastic wiffle ball and a slightly modified tennis net.
It is played by two or four players on a 20’ x 44’ court which is the same size as a double badminton court. The paddles are made of wood or composite materials. The net is set at a height of 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle and is 20’ wide.
IS PICKLEBALL A REAL SPORT?
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. There is even a USA Pickleball Association that has regularly scheduled tournaments. According to the USAPA.org, there are more than 13,000 courts in the U.S. and the Sports & Fitness Industry Association states that there are more than 2.46 million players. Pickleball was recently featured on NBC Nightly News.
Pickleball is played on a court than one-third the size of a tennis court. The smaller court appeals to many older players who are looking for some exercise without having a stroke in the process. Rather than spending all their time chasing the ball, they can now enjoy making more contact with the ball. The sport is low impact and easier on the joints than say volley ball or tennis. The perforations in the ball means that it travels at about one-third of the speed of a tennis ball, making this sport a lot less intimidating.
Don’t think that pickleball is only for older players, it is a multi-generational game. Because it takes up less room than tennis but requires more energy than badminton and the equipment costs are less, quite a few schools are now featuring it as part of their physical education program.
Rep. Joel Pritchard
Pickleball has been around for a surprisingly long time. It was invented back in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum as a way to give their family something to do during the summer. The Pritchard family already had a badminton court but they couldn’t find a full set of rackets. They did find some ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball. The family loved it. The first known pickleball tournament was held in 1976 in Tukwila, Washington. The USAPA was created in 1984 and soon published the first rulebook. By 1990, pickleball was being played in all 50 states. From 2000, pickleball has been included in the Senior Olympics.
Currently pickleball is played in the United States, Canada, India, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In 2010 the International Federation of Pickleball published their first rulebook.
How did this sport get such a sour name? Well, there are a couple of possible answers to that question. Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, said “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boats in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.” But, the Pritchard family also had a family dog named Pickles who liked to run off with the ball. Either way, the name did come from the Pritchard family.
HOW TO PLAY PICKLEBALL
After the ball has bounced once on each side of the net, both teams may volley the ball either with or without a bounce.
There is a non-volley zone 7’ on both sides of the net. This keeps players from smashing the ball. If the player or their paddle crosses into the non-volley zone, “The Kitchen,” then a fault is declared even if the player’s momentum carries them into the zone. A player can enter the kitchen as long as they are not volleying a ball.
Rule violations create a fault. A fault by the receiving team gives the serving team a point. A fault by the serving team results in the loss of their serve. A fault happens if:
Pickleball is an adrenaline feeding addictive sport that is an absolute blast to play. It is so much fun that you might be tempted to skip work just to go play and your kids just might want to spend the weekend with you rather than simply hanging out with their friends.
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