What Is Pickleball? Understanding The Game

Discover the dynamic world of pickleball, a thrilling ball game that seamlessly blends the best elements of badminton and tennis. Whether you go solo or team up with a partner, this sport promises an exhilarating experience. Picture a court resembling a tennis arena, but with a twist – it’s ingeniously crafted to be slightly smaller, giving the game its own unique charm.

In this vibrant sport, bid farewell to traditional tennis rackets and say hello to paddles, perfectly designed to manoeuvre a lightweight plastic ball. As pickleball sweeps across the globe, it captivates hearts with its simplicity and accessibility. The beauty lies in the fact that it effortlessly combines recreation and exercise, making it a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts of all levels.

Unleashing your inner athlete has never been easier with pickleball. It’s a fantastic way to get active, even for those who may not possess boundless energy. The appeal of this sport lies in its ability to bring joy and excitement to everyone who plays it. Brace yourself for a thrilling journey into the world of pickleball, a sport embraced by countless enthusiasts worldwide.

When it comes to pickleball in the United Kingdom, look no further than the UKPA (United Kingdom Pickleball Association). They serve as the vibrant epicentre for all things pickleball-related, providing a thriving community for passionate players and ensuring the sport continues to flourish throughout the country.

Pickleball History

In 1965, a captivating game known as pickleball emerged in the USA, thanks to the creative minds of Joel Pritchard, a Washington State congressman, and Bill Bell, a prosperous businessman. After returning from a trip to Bainbridge Island, Washington, they discovered their families feeling bored and restless. Determined to entertain them, the duo decided to fashion a game with whatever they could find.

Amidst the search for equipment, they stumbled upon an old badminton court at Joel’s home. Although a complete set was missing, their enthusiasm remained undeterred. Armed with vintage table tennis bats bereft of rubber and a punctured plastic ball, they began playing a modified version of badminton. Setting the net at the standard height of 60 inches, they engaged in spirited matches throughout the weekend.

As they continued to refine their newfound game, a remarkable revelation surfaced. They observed that the ball bounced exceptionally well on an asphalt surface, leading them to lower the net to a height of 36 inches. Eager to share their discovery, they introduced the game to Barney McCallum the following weekend. Captivated by its charm, Barney joined the venture, and together they established a set of rules, drawing inspiration from the framework of badminton.

Yet, their vision extended beyond mere entertainment. Recognizing the importance of family participation, they consciously crafted a game that would unite and engage players of all ages. With this noble intention in mind, the foundations of pickleball were solidified, destined to become a sport cherished by families far and wide.

Why Is It Called Pickleball

You may wonder how the name pickleball came by and there are no pickles used in the game. Two stories explain the origin of the name. The first story was by Joel’s wife, Joan, and the other story was by Barney McCallum. Joan called it pickles because the game was a combination of different games and it reminded her of the pickle boat. This is the story where the sailors that were unused were chosen from the other boats.

However, Barney McCallum named the game, after Pritchard’s dog who was called Pickles.  Pickles, the dog would come to where they were playing and begin chasing the ball while running away with it.

The game did not have an official name for about two years. Later on, Pritchard’s family decided to buy a cocker spaniel which they used to play the game and named Pickles. This made them name the game pickleball after they had played for some time.

How Is Pickleball Played

Pickleball can be both an indoor game and an outdoor game. It can either be played by two or four players. It is played by hitting a perforated ball over a net that is 36 inches above. The ball is hit by a solid-faced paddle.  The players hit the ball over the net returning to one another.

What You Need to Play Pickleball

1. A pickleball court

2. Pickleball paddles

3. Pickleball ball

4. A pair of pickleball shoes or any other comfortable shoes

How To Set Up a Court

The net is set at 36 inches above at the sides and 34 inches at the centre.  You hit the ball either as a volley or groundstrokes. Groundstrokes are hits off the bounce. They mostly occur from the baseline. Volleys are hits out of the air. They mostly occur near the net. The kitchen area which is also called the non-volley area is 7ft.

Rules Of the Game

1.    Points are counted first from the serving team

The right-side player starts to serve the ball. The server serves diagonally to their opponent.

2.    You must be underhand to serve the ball.

The server of the ball should hit the ball with an underhand shot under the waist. Your hand should move upwards when you hit the ball. You can serve the ball in two ways. First, you can shoot the ball out of the air which is commonly preferred by many players. The other way is you drop the ball down, let it bounce then you shoot it to the other side. The main aim of the server in the pickleball game is to make the ball play, which is opposite to the tennis ball where the server hits the ball aggressively to score.

3.    The serving team continues to count their score until they make a fault.

After the game begins, it continues until a fault happens. A fault ends the point. Pickleball has three main faults. First, when the server serves the ball and it falls into the kitchen. The second fault is when the server serves the ball and it falls out of bond. Lastly, when the server serves the ball and hits the net.

4.    You are not supposed to volley in the kitchen.

Players are not allowed to hit the ball when a part of their body is in the kitchen or they have stepped on the line. Also, after they hit the ball, they should not fall into the kitchen.

5.    You are allowed to play groundstrokes in the kitchen.

When your opponent hits the ball and it falls in the kitchen which is called a dink, you can enter the kitchen and hit the ball in a groundstroke manner.

6.    You must allow the ball to bounce before you hit.

Before you hit the ball back to the other side, you must allow the ball to bounce once on each side.

7.    Points are only acquired by the serving team.

The serving team gets points until they make a fault. Each time they score they exchange sides with their partners.

8.    The players serve in turn.

In doubles, each player gets a chance to serve. They keep track of who is to serve by recording the scores in three numbers.

9.    The team that will reach 11 first wins, but it wins by 2

The team that reaches 11 first wins but if the scores are 10 by 10 the win does not count. The game continues to 11 by 10. These games mostly end at 12 by 10, 15 by 13, or 21 by 19. These games are known to be the most fun games.

How To Score Pickleball

Scoring is counted on the serving side. The receiving side cannot score. When beginning to play, the player on the right side, which is the even court, begins to serve. If they score a point, they will alternate sides with their partner. The server will now be on the left side which is the odd court. They will continue serving the game until they make a fault. The receiving players do not alternate sides, they will be given a chance to serve when the servers lose the game. Even when the receiving players make a fault, the chance to serve goes to the other team. The game continues with this sequence.

Why Is Pickleball Rapidly Growing

Pickleball is rapidly growing because it is easy to play, especially by people who have skills in other racket sports. They find it easy to apply their skills in this game. Also advanced players in racket sports love pickleball because of the challenges that the game comes with. It is very competitive for them.

Pickleball is also loved because it has health benefits. When playing pickleball you find yourself doing exercise through the rallies that you make in the game. Some suggestions say that people with heart issues are safer playing pickleball than tennis.

Also, pickleball doesn’t have a lot of restrictions. There is no age limit to this game which can be played as a lifetime sport. In addition, the players in this game do not need to go to the gym or be the best athletes since it requires less energy to play. Moreover, playing pickleball creates room for socialising and team building. Lastly, pickleball is loved because it uses less space. One tennis court can be used to create four pickleball courts.

Challenges In Pickleball

Anything that has a good side surely has its bad side. Challenges faced in pickleball are less and rare to encounter.

1. Pickleball is more of a physical game therefore one needs to be physically fit to play the game.

2. Players should be wearing appropriate shoes with proper fittings to avoid falling and having fractures of the ankles and many other problems that can come from falling.

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