Pickleball is a unique racket-based sport that utilizes a badminton-like court, tennis-like net, paddle, and perforated ball. The sport can be played in singles or doubles and is currently played by 3.3 million people in the US alone. A wide range of rules set pickleball apart, mainly restricting times and places in which you can volley the ball.
Want to know more about pickleball, its history, the rules, how to play, the equipment you’ll need, and more? You’re in the right place! Let’s get into it.
The History of Pickleball
The game was invented in 1965, initially as a hobby and backyard game. Three fathers – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, created a new summer-time game that combined their favorite elements of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton.
The origin of the name ‘pickleball’ is disputed. On the one hand, the name could have been a reference to a pickle boat, in which a mixture of rowers was selected in a pickle boat in the sport of rowing. The other explanation might be the name of Joel Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, as he was renowned for chasing the ball as they played their new game.
Read more here: The Origins Of Pickleball
The Pickleball Court
An essential part of pickleball is the court it is played on. Equivalent to a badminton court, the dimensions of a pickleball court are 20ft wide by 44ft long. The dimensions do not change for singles and doubles, unlike tennis. The court is split in half by the net, 34 inches tall at the center and 36 inches at the posts.
Want to play on a tennis court? Read this: Can You Play Pickleball on a Tennis Court?
The 22ft halves are then split into 2 more sections by a line 7ft back, parallel to the net, called the NVZ line. The back section, which is 15ft long, is then split in half by a line parallel to the sidelines, stretching from the baseline to the NVZ line. The front 7ft half each side of the net is called the non-volley zone, or kitchen.
Read more in this article here: What is the Kitchen in Pickleball?
Pickleball, like tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, may be played as singles or doubles games. Doubles, on the other hand, are presently more popular.
Pickleball regulations are the same whether you’re playing pairs or singles. The scoring differs slightly between the two, however.
Typically, games are played to 11 points with a two-point victory.
Scoring & Announcing Points
When the serving team wins a rally or the receiving team commits a mistake, the serving team earns points. The receiving team is not able to score.
Read more on rally here: What Is a Rally In Pickleball?
The score is announced by the person serving. When playing doubles, the score is made up of three numbers: 1) the server’s team score, 2) the opponent’s score, and 3) the server number (either 1 or 2).
A pickleball must be served in an underhand manner
The serve must cross the net diagonally and settle outside the opponent’s non-volley zone. (Because the non-volley line is part of the non-volley zone, any section of the non-volley line touched by the ball on the serve is a fault.)
A player may now drop the ball (but not drive it higher or downward) and hit the serve after it bounces, which is new in 2021 and 2022.
The server only gets one serve attempt — starting in 2021, lets will be live balls that will not be replayed.
A point is awarded to the serving team if the rally is won by them. The server and their partner trade sides and serve the opposing court’s receiver.
Before yielding the serve to the opponents, both players on the team must have a chance to serve fairly and score points.
It’s a “side-out” if both players on the serving team have served — or after the first serving rotation of the game — in which case the team receiving serve becomes the serving team.
The Double Bounce Rule
The double bounce – or two-bounce rule – is one of pickleball’s specific rules. According to the two-bounce rule, the ball, on either side of the court, must bounce once before any player may knock it out of the air.
Before returning the serve, the receiving team must let the ball to bounce.
Before striking the ball out of the air, the serving team must bounce. (Hint: If you’re the serving team, don’t sneak up on the other team after the serve.)
You may hit the ball out of the air once it has bounced once on each side.
The Non-Volley Zone (the Kitchen)
The non-volley zone, sometimes known as “the kitchen,” has a second regulation that is unique to pickleball. The non-volley zone is a two-dimensional space that runs from sideline to sideline, 7 feet from the net on either side.
A ball cannot be volleyed inside the non-volley zone. The regulations do, in fact, enable you to enter the non-volley zone at any time. You can’t hit the ball out of the air when you’re inside. (Hint: Although it is legal, loitering in the non-volley zone makes little strategic sense since you can’t strike the ball out of the air there.)
You cannot step in the non-volley zone or touch the non-volley line while striking the ball out of the air, including the forwards’ momentum from the act of volleying the ball.
- A fault is defined as a “rules infringement resulting in a dead ball and the rally’s finish.”
- A point is awarded to the serving side when the receiving team makes a mistake. If the serving team makes a mistake, the server loses his or her serve, as well as a side-out if he or she is the second server.
- The following are some of the most frequent (but not complete) flaws:
- Taking the ball out of the air before it bounces on your side at least once.
- Hitting the ball into the net.
- Hitting the ball out of bounds.
- After the ball has bounced more than once on your side, hitting it
- Volleying the ball while in the NVZ, or even touching the NVZ line
Pickleball was first played using wooden paddles when it first became popular. Technology, on the other hand, has evolved throughout the years. The wooden paddles of the past have been replaced with graphite and fiberglass paddles with honeycomb cores, which are lighter and more durable.
Pickleball paddles are now available in various weights, forms, grip sizes, and material compositions — not to mention a wide range of pricing. Because each individual has their distinct tastes when it comes to paddles, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all.” If you have a paddle that works for you, it may not work for your playing partner.
Read more in-depth here: What are Pickleball Paddles Made Of?
Before buying a paddle, it is recommended that you test out a few different kinds to see which one is the most comfortable for you. Certain weights, materials, grips, and overall feels will suit different types of players, so it’s important that you get the paddle that suits your style. If you’re just getting started in pickleball, you may want to start with some inexpensive paddles.
Pickleball also requires a unique ball that can come in two types. Depending on your court, you will want to purchase either an outdoor or indoor pickleball. The outdoor pickleball is noticeably heavier, harder, more durable, and even has smaller holes, causing it to travel at much higher speeds and distances than the indoor ball. When buying pickleballs, make sure they are USA Pickleball-approved.
Read an in-depth article here: Can You Use Indoor Pickleballs Outdoor?
Leading USA Pickleball-approved outdoor balls to include the Dura Fast 40, Franklin X-40, and the Fuse G2 Outdoor from Onix Sports. Much like the pickleball paddle, sure balls will suit different play styles, but if you are a beginner playing on either an outdoor or indoor court, an indoor ball is recommended. Due to their lighter weight, softer material, and larger holes, indoor balls travel slower.
The most notable indoor balls are Jugs, Photon Indoor, and Onix Fuse Indoor Ball. It is essential that if you are playing on a wood/composite gym floor, most likely at your local recreation center, you use indoor balls. Using an outdoor ball is practically impossible, as the harder material and fast travel speed cause it to skid across the indoor court rather than bounce.
Pickleball Tactics & Tips
What is most essential to playing pickleball well is the domination of the net. You should always aim to play the ball from the net – by hitting deep shots that will cause your opposition to hit balls that land within the no-volley zone. What is also essential for pickleball is an effective serve. Starting the game on a strong serve is a huge benefit.
Read more here: How to Play Pickleball
Consistency should be aimed at first regarding your serve and then working on further accuracy to make your serve harder to play – for example, adding spin, speed, and curve.