What is pickleball? How to get started playing

What is pickleball? How to get started playing


By Jaclyn Brandt

On: 02/14/2024

What is pickleball? Get started playing pickleball.

Pickleball’s popularity has grown significantly over the last few years, but many people don’t realize the sport has already been around for more than 50 years. So what is pickleball, and how do you play it? Here is everything you ever wanted to know about the game of pickleball.

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a sport with origins in the mid-1900s. Using a perforated and hollow plastic ball and a paddle, you can play with two people (singles) or four people (doubles). You can play indoors and outdoors, on a court with the same dimensions as a badminton court.

History of pickleball

The game of pickleball was invented in 1965 at a home on Bainbridge Island, Washington. A few families, with a backyard area they used to play badminton, decided to try something new. They could not find all their badminton equipment, so they also used ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.

Eventually, they lowered the net to 36 inches when they realized the ball would bounce well. The rules came from badminton, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, and other racket sports.

Read more about the history of pickleball here.

How did pickleball get its name?

There are a few stories about why pickleball is called pickleball. The first story is that pickleball was named after the family dog of one of the inventors, Pickles. 

The second story is that the name came from a “pickle boat,” which is the name for a boat of leftover crewmen in boat racing.

The family later said they made up the dog story as a fun story for for an interview, and didn’t realize it would take off. USA Pickleball later found that the dog Pickles was not born until later, around 1968.

Read more about how pickleball got its name here.

How to play pickleball

The rules of pickleball may seem complex when you first start playing, but they will start to make sense the more you play.

Pickleball is played on a 44 ft. x 20 ft. court, with 7 ft. “non-volley zones” at each net. There is also a right service area and left service area.

Pickleball rules

The rules of pickleball are taken from sports like tennis, badminton, and others, so if you have played any of those sports, you may pick up pickleball rules more quickly than others.

Pickleball is played as doubles or singles, although doubles tends to be the more common way to play. You use the same playing area for both, although there is a type of singles called “skinny singles” which does not use the entire court.

Read more about pickleball rules here.

Pickleball scoring

Pickleball scoring is pretty straightforward, and similar to other sports. 

  • Games are normally played to 11 points, win by 2.

  • Tournaments may be played to 15 or 21 points, win by 2.

  • Only the serving team may score a point.

Read more about pickleball scoring here.

Where to play pickleball

With the growing popularity of pickleball, there are now pickleball courts in many cities and states across the United States, and even the world. Check out our list of pickleball teachers and pickleball facilities and courts to find out when and where to play pickleball near you.

Read more about where to play pickleball here.

Find a beginner league near you

Although a lot of leagues are targeted toward more experienced players, there are more and more beginner courses and leagues as the sport grows. If you want to learn to play pickleball, reach out to your local facilities to see if they offer beginner options, and if not, if they would consider offering this.

Read more about tips to get involved with a local beginner pickleball league here.

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is different than every other sport because pretty much anyone can pick it up and play within a few practices.

Learning the rules of pickleball is a little more tricky. But if are open to learning something new, pickleball can add to your your social, physical, and mental well-being.

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