What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a paddle sport played with a whiffle ball on a badminton-sized court and a tennis-style net. A non-volley zone (or kitchen) prevents volleys close to the net, and the serving team cannot volley the return of serve. These unique rules favor players with less mobility and allow senior players to compete successfully with younger competitors.
Pickleball is enjoyed by people of all ages and athletic abilities thanks to its ease of play and straightforward rules. The sport is inexpensive, social and healthy, and has been widely accepted in school gyms, fire stations, community centers, local parks, athletic clubs and thousands of backyard sports courts. In some ways it’s a combination of tennis and badminton, and along with sports such as table tennis and racquetball, pickleball has exploded in popularity. Thousands of pickleball courts have been built in recent years, especially in senior communities.
These areas have benefited from increased comradery amid peers since both doubles and singles can be played. Doubles involve longer rallies, lower physical demands and more opportunities for court banter. Though easy to learn, pickleball provides endless opportunity for individual improvement and learning subtle techniques. Many players who initially dismiss the sport as amateurish, simplistic or noisy now find it addicting. Like golf, many fans play several hours a day either indoors or outdoors.
Pickleball’s requirements are fairly minimal when it comes to equipment. Paddle faces are made of wood, composites or graphite. Overall, paddles are roughly 8” wide and 15” long with hard, smooth surfaces. Balls are made of hard plastic with holes and are similar in size to baseballs. Nets are 34” high in the center. Courts are 20 feet wide and 40’ long. Four pickleball courts can fit in the same area used for a single tennis court.
Pickleball is an inclusive, accessible, non-elitist sport that transcends social and economic barriers. Playing styles vary widely, even at the highest levels. Many top players have no past racquet or paddle sport experience and have limited athletic abilities. Pickleball is easy to begin but difficult to master. Grab a paddle and give it a try!
The History of Pickleball
Pickleball was created during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island - a short ferry ride from Seattle, WA. The original purpose of the game was to provide a sport for the entire family, according to co-inventors U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum.
Pickles was the family dog that would chase after the errant balls and then hide in the bushes, thus Pickle's ball which was later shortened to the namesake of Pickleball. Initially, families played Pickleball in their backyards on a hard surface, on driveways, and on residential dead-end streets. Since the mid-1970's, Pickleball has grown and expanded from a family activity game to a paddle court sport with formalized rules. Now, over 20 years later, Pickleball is played in thousands of school P.E. programs, parks and recreation centers, correctional facilities, camps, YMCAs and retirement communities. This sport is becoming very popular among active senior adults at community centers and is growing in popularity on high school and college campuses.
The Pickleball Ball
A pickleball is similar to a whiffle ball but it is more durable. Common whiffle balls will split apart during a game of pickleball.
There are currently no rules governing what type of pickleball is played indoors or outdoors or the color of the ball. In our experience most people prefer playing outside with the small-holed, hard plastic Dura, TOP, or ONIX ball and so we've come to calling these balls "outdoor" balls.
Similarly, most people prefer playing indoors with the large holed Jugs or Big Hole Dura Ball, so we've come to calling these balls "indoor balls".
Ball choice is a matter of preference. Pickleball communities develop a preference for a particular brand and color of ball. Be warned, people feel strongly about their balls. Make sure and check what ball your community uses so you don't show up with the "wrong ball".
The paddle is similar to a ping pong paddle in that it is solid and easily maneuverable with a turn of the wrist. When game was invented, wooden paddles were used and are still used at many institutions due to lower cost. The best quality paddles are made of lightweight fiberglass due to their lower weight and higher durability. Our champion fiberglass paddles come in a variety of bright colors.
The game itself is played on a court that is the same size as a badminton court (20 feet wide by 44 feet long). The net is set at 36 inches high on the edges and 34 inches in the middle.
Pickleball's small court allows younger players or those with varying degrees of mobility to participate in a way that the larger court of tennis sometimes prohibits. Additionally, a rule prohibiting volleying (hitting the ball in the air) in the non-volley zone (the space 7 feet from the net) helps to equalize play and reduce overpowering smashes at the net.
Pickleball has become a common high school sport in gym classes and has gained popularity with teenagers as well as seniors. Schools often host tournaments. In New York State alone, it is estimated that over 500 schools include Pickleball in their curricula.
All you need to start playing Pickleball is the following:
portable net system with carrying bag
the Official Rule Book
Our Preferred Partners offer several types of equipment for pickleball players. The prices vary depending on the type of equipment. Wood paddles are the least expensive. Graphite are the most expensive. With a complete pickleball set you have everything you need to set up a pickleball court and play anywhere there's a hard surface, like a driveway, gym, cul-de-sac, or parking lot.