What exactly is pickleball? How is it played? Who can enjoy the sport? These may be some of the questions running through your head as you read the title. No need to worry; we explain what pickleball is and how the sport is played.
Pickleball is a combination of three different paddle sports: ping pong, tennis, and badminton. The plastic balls used in the sport also have holes throughout them which is something to keep in mind as that does differ from the other sports that it is encompassed of.
Who Can Play Pickleball?
Now that we understand more about pickleball, we can talk about who can play it. Like any other sport, there are no restrictions on who specifically can play it, and it is appropriate for players of different skill levels and ages.
The general rules of the sport also tend to be easy to follow, making it user-friendly for anyone. The chances are that if you enjoy a good game of either badminton, tennis, or ping pong (or you enjoy all three), then pickleball would be a good choice for you.
If you find yourself good at pickleball to the point of wanting to compete, there is a USA Pickleball Association. They promote pickleball, maintain rules and regulations, provide player rankings, and sanction tournaments.
Ideal for Family and Friends
Those interested in playing the sport more recreationally with friends and family can do so as well. One tennis court can be used as four pickleball courts. Allowing larger groups to play close together, the people can hold a conversation during games.
The sport enables families to spend time together, hold conversations, and sneak in some exercise. Pickleball can also be played indoors or outdoors, which means that courts can be found at most recreational facilities.
Basic Rules to Follow
As we mentioned, several pretty basic rules need to be followed to play a proper game of pickleball—nothing too extreme or difficult to understand. The basics can be broken down into five or so rules to remember.
1. Staying Inbounds
First, the ball must stay within the boundaries set. Since the courts are smaller, about one-fourth the size of a tennis court, the boundaries are essential. Hitting outside of them can result in your opponent getting the next service, which you want to avoid at all costs, like any other sport.
However, in pickleball, the ball bounces as it is served and when the serve is returned, unlike other paddle sports. This is unique as less torque is thrown behind the initial serve due to the bounce. Most courts will have white boundary lines present so that you know where to keep your hit within.
2. One bounce
Second, the ball should only bounce once per side. A basic rule followed by any paddle-based sport, so it should be another one that everyone is familiar with. Any second bounce results in a serve lost for you or your team and a serve gained for your opponents—a straightforward way to enable your opponent to get one point closer to winning.
3. Game Points
Third, the games can end at eleven, fifteen, or twenty-one points. Eleven points are standard for a match; however, the winner must win by two points. This means that most singles games will end at eleven or fifteen typically. However, most doubles games end up going to fifteen or twenty-one points.
Sides are switched during the match, which depends upon the type of match being played. If it is to eleven points, then sides are switched when one team reaches six points. For games to fifteen or twenty-one, sides are switched when someone reaches eight points.
4. Avoiding the Kitchen Line
Fourth, avoid the no-volley zone during your serve. There are boxed lines, seven feet or so, from the net, typically referred to as the "kitchen line." These should be avoided at all costs when serving since you will lose your service if the ball touches the area.
After a legal service has been played, the kitchen line is fair play and open to hits. It's just the initial service that needs to avoid the area.
5. Proper Serves
Fifth is the serving regulations that need to be followed. Some of these are pretty standard and similar to the other sports that make up pickleball. For example, the initial service is determined by a random number of game or coin flip to make it fair for each player or team.
Serves should be done below the waistline and underhanded to get a game started. Many recommend keeping one foot behind the baseline to ensure that distances are proper when the service is done. The courtside you serve to will depend on the type of match being played.
Singles games are served directly across the court, i.e., left side to left side or right side to right side. Whereas doubles matches are served across the court, i.e., left side to right side or right side to left side. Any serving mistakes result in you (or you and your teammate depending on the match type) losing the service and allowing your opponent(s) to serve.
A Worthy Mention
It’s important to note that points in pickleball can only be scored when you are serving. So, losing service due to a boundary or kitchen line error can negatively impact the rest of your game. Ensuring that you keep your serves and have more opportunities to score those points is essential.
Hopefully, you now understand more about pickleball and the rules of the sport. It is an excellent combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Enabling anyone who enjoys or is good at those sports to pick this one up as well easily.
Anyone can play pickleball as long as the five rules mentioned are followed. It's important to remember, though, that anyone interested in playing competitively will still need to practice and compete as they would with badminton or tennis.