The obsession with pickleball is evident virtually everywhere. Cities across the world are converting tennis courts into Pickleball courts, recreation establishments are introducing pickleball facilities, neighborhoods are setting up makeshift pickleball courts, and huge arenas are being developed to cater to the enormous demand for playing pickleball.
Whether you are already a fan and are eager to learn more about the history of pickleball and pickleball scoring rules, or you are brand new to the sport and wondering “what is pickleball?” you’re about to learn everything you need to know about the game pickleball and how to play it.
Pickleball is to hit the ball back and forth over a net. It really is that simple. With even a basic understanding of the game, anyone can jump in and play competitively even without lessons. Pickleballers are known for their desire to teach others about the game. If you stop by a tournament, ask someone to explain the game as you watch a match. Or head over to your local pickleball courts and ask to join a game. Players love explaining the game to beginners!
One of the best aspects of the game is the social atmosphere of camaraderie. Teammates and opponents are closer together on a smaller court, which makes for great interaction. The jokes and wisecracks make pickleball entertaining. But the encouragement between competitors is what makes pickleball unique. It is considered customary to commend your opponent’s shot in the middle of a game. We need more of this in other sports!
Pickleball has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years — partially because anyone can play it. It first began to grow rapidly in senior communities. Schools now implement pickleball in physical education classes and after-school programs. Pickleball levels the playing field between age groups and athletic backgrounds. Grandparents and their grandchildren can play together competitively! What other sports let multiple generations play together?
Pickleball is not about power or speed exclusively. It is a sport of strategy and patience. The majority of the game is played close to the net, which means less time running around and longer rallies! The court is smaller than tennis, so many people are gravitating to pickleball because of the lower physical strain. It is a competitive, yet fun way to stay healthy.
The origin of pickleball is rather unique and includes a full-blown debate as to the beginnings of its name. It was originally created by a group of friends, over fifty years ago, who wanted to play badminton, but did not have all of the proper equipment. So they improvised with the equipment they had and ended up creating a sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping pong. It is played on a badminton-sized court, but with a lower net similar to tennis. You hit a wiffle-type ball over the net with paddles that look like oversized ping pong paddles. With the rapid wear down of the ping pong paddles, one of the men decided to make his own paddles from wood in his basement.
Why on earth would anyone name a serious sport pickleball? This is the most hotly debated issue in pickleball. There are two plausible stories as to its genesis. One side says it is named after one of the founder’s dogs, Pickles. He kept running off with the ball in between plays, so everyone called it Pickles’ ball. The other side of the story is that it borrows the term from oarsmen. A ‘pickle boat’ in oaring is the boat manned by members from competing teams who are substitutes or leftovers. So pickle is a salute to pickleball’s eclectic conglomeration of other sports’ leftovers.
As long as you have a hard surface, you can play pickleball anywhere. It has been played on gym floors, concrete, asphalt, tennis courts, and carpet. Some people even set up courts in their neighborhood streets! The net is 34 inches in height. Fun fact: this height was originally chosen because it was the height of one of the founder’s waistline. He would stand next to the net to make sure the net height was correct.
The only equipment that is truly necessary to play pickleball is a paddle and pickleball ball. There are indoor and outdoor versions of pickleball balls. They look just like wiffle balls. Originally, paddles were made of plywood. A necessary skill at the high levels of pickleball play is quick hands. A heavy wooden paddle slows the reaction time, so a new type of paddle was created while keeping to the traditional shape of the wooden paddles. Most paddles, currently, have a polymer honeycomb core with either a fiberglass or graphite surface.
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