Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong (table tennis).
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the US.
In fact, the USA Pickleball Association states that it has been the fastest growing sport and one of the most popular sports, for the last 2 years with 39.3% growth and 4.8 million players in the United States.
Ever wonder: what is pickleball a combination of? Keep reading to learn more.
History of Pickleball
Pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island, not far from Washington State
These days the game of pickleball is thought of for the retirement communities, however, it’s a paddle sport that was originally invented by Congressman Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum in 1965 so their kids had something to do while vacationing on Bainbridge Island.
Joel, Bill and Barney got home from a day out, they found their kids lazing around so they decided to make up a game that was challenging but good for the whole family to play, including kids and adults.
They started playing with table tennis paddles (ping pong paddles), a wiffle ball (perforated plastic ball with holes), and a lowered badminton net, on a badminton court.
Have a look at this video interview with Barney McCallum and his son where they talk about the history of the game.
Why Is It Called Pickleball?
According to the USAPA website, pickleball was given its name for either one of the following reasons, or it’s possible that both accounts are accurate:
1. Joel Pritchard’s wife (Joan), started calling the game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.”
2. Barney McCallum states that pickleball was given its name because of the Pritchards’ dog Pickles, who would chase the ball and run off with it. According to Barney McCallum, “The Pritchards had a dog named Pickles, and you’re having fun at a party, right? So anyway, what the hell, let’s just call it pickleball.”
Facts About Pickleball?
Here is why pickleball has become very popular over the last few years, and one of the fastest growing sports:
- Simple to play – almost anyone can jump on a court and play a game
- Fun – it’s a very addictive game – I got hooked right away – went to our local club to play for 1 hour and stayed for 3 hours
- Social – many players continue to play for the social interaction
- Exercise – low impact exercise – good for those prone to injury
- Competitive – play recreational games or play in tournaments
- Doubles or singles – another appealing aspect of pickleball is that you can play a singles game or a doubles game – or both, depending on your preference.
Who Plays Pickleball?
Pickleball is a sport for people of all ages and skill levels. People who want to socialize, have fun, and get exercise like the game.
If you haven’t played racquet or paddle sports, you will likely find that you are using muscles that you don’t use often.
If you’ve played tennis, badminton, table tennis, squash or racquetball, pickleball will feel familiar but the pickleball paddle will feel a bit different because it’s like playing with an oversized ping pong/tennis paddle. If you’ve played padel or paddleball, the paddle is very similar.
Pickleball became a very popular game for retirement communities and developed a reputation for being a game for retirees.
However, it’s a game for anyone, including kids and families which was the key point when Barney McCallum and others created the game.
This video below from the US Open tournament shows a mixed doubles game with a team of 12 and 14-year-olds playing in the 19-49 division.
This is a perfect example of how different age groups and skills can play together. Keep in mind that in pickleball, players can play up in age but not in a younger age group.
How To Play A Game Of Pickleball
Pickleball is an easy sport to learn how to play.
If you know how to play tennis, you’ll easily pick up on pickleball. There are elements of tennis in pickleball.
In fact, many tennis players who pick up pickleball get hooked on the game because it’s a fun game that’s played on a pickleball court, which is a badminton-sized court – and a smaller court than a tennis court but still a very fast, competitive game that is a ton of fun.
The net is similar to a tennis net.
You hit the ball over the net and try to keep it inside the lines and then your opponent returns the ball.
The pickleball court is not as big as a tennis court, which makes it easier to cover half of the court playing doubles. It’s the same size as a badminton court so if you’ve ever played badminton, you’ll know the size of a pickleball court.
You can find all the basic rules for pickleball, including court dimensions on the USA Pickleball Association website.
The rules for playing pickleball are a bit more complicated because there are a couple of rules that are unique to pickleball.
As an example, the non volley zone, often referred to as the kitchen (with a kitchen line), was created.
The non-volley zone is a 7 ft area on either side of the net that extends the width of the net. You can’t stand inside the non-volley zone when volleying the ball.
You need to let the ball bounce before hitting it.
Because of this rule, you need to play more strategically – you can’t just smash the ball over the net as you can in tennis.
The non-volley zone rule really encourages you to think strategically about how to play the ball.
It’s easy to learn and with a bit of strategic thinking, you can outsmart and outplay your competitor.
The non-volley zone rule was created to help ensure that the sport is accessible for players of all skills to play together.
You can read more about pickleball rules in this article that highlights 7 key rules.
Is Pickleball Good Exercise?
Yes, pickleball is a great way to get exercise and is a low-impact sport.
The pickleball court is the same size as a badminton court (20 ft x 44 ft), which makes it easy for doubles or singles play because the court is not overly deep or wide. But, there’s enough movement to get a bit of cardio exercise.
Where Do You Play Pickleball?
You’ll find both indoor courts and outdoor courts throughout communities.
Quite often pickleball court lines are put on tennis, basketball or badminton courts. And because the game has become so popular, many more designated pickleball courts are being built.
Some courts are free and others have a small charge to play but if you are looking for places to play pickleball near you that are low cost, check out your local community center.
Take a look at 5 Simple Ways To Find Pickleball Courts Near You which shows you several easy ways to quickly find places to play pickleball near you.
It’s also possible to set up your own pickleball court. You can buy your own pickleball net and set it up on your driveway, backyard, cul-de-sac or even at the local basketball court.
Supplies to set up a pickleball court include a hard surface, chalk to mark the court lines and a pickleball net.
Is Pickleball Expensive?
Pickleball is an inexpensive sport and doesn’t require a lot of pickleball equipment and you can usually play somewhere close that is free or inexpensive.
Pickleball equipment can be very affordable. There are wood pickleball paddles which are very entry-level, costing about $25 but you can get a better paddle for about $30-$40 which is what I recommend. It’s true that you can pay $150 for a pickleball paddle, but you don’t have to. Pickleball balls are about $3 each.
The Best Pickleball Paddles For Every Budget + Game will help you find a paddle that’s within your budget.
Court shoes are also a good investment and will help you avoid ankle injuries.