Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports globally, experiencing a 21.3% jump in players for a total of 4.2 million. As more people learn about the sport and communities invest in courts, the popularity continues to rise.
This sport offers opportunities to players of all age groups since there's less strain on the body and the rules are easier to grasp. The increased prize money and incentive programs encourage skilled players from other sports like tennis to participate. Discover everything there is to know about this sport below!
The History of Pickleball
The origins of pickleball go back to 1965 when Joel Pritchard, a Washington State congressman, and his friend Bill Bell, a successful businessman, came home from golfing and found their families bored. They wanted to set up a badminton game but didn't have the proper equipment.
They worked with what they had, playing with table tennis paddles and a plastic ball. After rounds of play, they realized the badminton net was a bit too high and lowered it so the ball could bounce on either side, much like ping pong.
Their friend Barney McCallum joined them soon after, and together they created the rules for pickleball. In 1967, the first pickleball court was erected in neighbor Bob O'Brian's backyard. Then, in 1972, the men formed a corporation to protect the new sport.
Pickleball gained more exposure after articles from The National Observer and Tennis Magazine discussed "America's newest racquet sport." A book titled "The Other Racquet Sports" covered pickleball in-depth.
The first tournament ever was held in 1976 but didn't gain steam until Sid Williams organized tournaments in Washington. Then, in 1984, Williams became the first president of the United States Amateur Pickleball Association.
From there, the reach and popularity of pickleball only grew with help from the internet. The USA Pickleball Association was formed in 2005 and created a website with linked listings of places to play, providing a single reliable database for players.
A revised rulebook was released in 2008, and pickleball received mass media attention when Good Morning America covered the sport. In 2010, the International Federation of Pickleball was created to help with international growth.
More players joined the sport, and the growth continues to this day with national and international tournaments.
So, What Is Pickleball?
You may have heard of pickleball through family or friends, but it could still be unclear what the sport is. After all, the sport hasn't seen nearly as much media exposure as other sports, so there's a chance you've never seen a game of pickleball.
Think of pickleball as a mix between tennis, ping-pong and badminton which can be played indoors or outdoors. It's a paddle sport that's played with a plastic ball on a badminton court with a slightly modified tennis net.
The court, which measures 20 feet by 44 feet, is the same size for both singles and doubles matches. Its layout is similar to tennis because it has a left and right service area with a 7-foot non-valley zone referred to as the kitchen.
The small court allows for less mobility and doesn't require previous racquet experience to thrive, which is why pickleball is great for all ages and skill levels. It's also a great exercise option for senior players who have physical limitations.
Many people gravitate to the sport for its social aspect since the close-quartered court offers opportunities for conversation and banter throughout games.
The Basic Rules of Pickleball
Rules for the sport are simple enough and resemble table tennis more than any other sport. Players serve diagonally and can only score points when serving, in which case they switch service sides until they fault, or violate a rule. Players must let the ball bounce once before volleying and not step into the kitchen. Pickleball can be played with singles or doubles.
Check out these pickleball rules all about the serve:
- The ball must go over the net and into the diagonal service court.
- Serves are done underhand and must be hit in the air. A player cannot bounce the ball then hit it for a serve.
- The server must hit the ball below the waist at the contact.
- A server's feet may not touch the court when the ball is struck.
- Only one serve attempt is allowed unless the ball hits the net and lands in the proper service zone.
- One fault is permitted before a team must give the ball up unless in doubles, in which case both players get to serve once.
Here are pickleball rules related to the double-bounce:
- Both sides must play their first shot off a bounce.
- Once these bounces happen, then players can volley or hit balls off a bounce.
These count as faults in pickleball:
- Not clearing the net
- Hitting the ball out of bounds
- Volleying the ball in the no-volley zone
- Volleying a ball before it's bounced on a first serve or return
These are pickleball rules related to volley hits:
- Volleys occur when players hit the ball in the air without letting it bounce.
- Players cannot step into the non-volley zone when this happens.
Here's how scoring works in pickleball:
- Only the serving team can score points
- In doubles, players take turns serving until a fault happens
- The first side to 11 points and up by two points wins the game.
Tips for Playing Pickleball
Nearly 60 years of pickleball have given way to changes in play styles and strategies. Different approaches can be successful depending on the player, so it's best to learn your strengths first.
Some players prefer the driving method where they play aggressively and close to the net, but they risk not reacting to a shot fast enough. This works when returners hit short returns and force you to play closer.
Sometimes slowing the game down by using a third shot drive is best when facing an opponent who doesn't have quick hands or consistently hits deep returns. If you're meeting someone who hits the ball harder than usual, then the kitchen line is a dangerous place to be since you won't have as much time to react to hits.
Choosing to start slow may give you the best chance for success since resets, drops, and dinks are integral to every pickleball skill set.
Choose Rhino Pickleball
Having a great strategy is a good start to winning, but you're behind the competition without the right equipment. Rhino Pickleball has the products you need to compete and dominate against your opponents. We offer paddle sets, jump ropes, agility ladders and cones and other accessories to help with preparation and domination.
Players trust our products because they know we only produce high-quality equipment for all your needs. No matter your experience level, we can supply you with the best available equipment. We're a user-driven innovation company dedicated to growing alongside this great sport.
Competitively priced equipment is our M.O. We've been that way since our founding back in 1961. No matter the need, we have you covered. Shop our selection of paddles, balls, nets and accessories to start playing today!