Everything You Wanted To Know About Pickleball
What is pickleball?
Pickleball is a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is typically played on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net, using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Pickleball can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors (in the freezing cold).
Who long has it been around?
Pickleball traces its origins to 1965.
And why am I just hearing about it?
We don’t have an answer to that.
OK, how about this: is it getting more popular?
Yes, for sure. While it started on the Pacific west coast, it has sort of slowly made it’s way across the country. If had a huge blast of growth during the pandemic and now is the fasting growing sport in the U.S.
So, more of a trend that will fizzle out soon?
No, not at all. There is serous money and investors betting on the long-term growth of pickleball. This is not a fad or trend.
Is pickleball easier than tennis?
That’s subject to much debate and both pickleball players and tennis players will provide more color. Our take is that, yes, pickleball may be easier to play than tennis but even that’s biased a bit.
Can I get hurt playing pickleball?
Well, that’s a trick question… you could get hurt anywhere doing anything. Overall, there are not that many injuries in pickleball and fewer certainly than most sports. Most come from starting in the sport to quickly and not giving your body time to rest and stretch.
Getting Started in Pickleball
How do I get start playing pickleball?
You may of someone already who plays and has asked you along – next time go with them. Other great resources include town recreation departments, YMCA, senior centers, workout clubs/gyms, country clubs, and hotels (even if you are not staying there). It’s very easy to get started playing pickleball.
Do I need to by equipment?
Chances are very good that wherever you play pickleball there may be the opportunity to use their equipment (i.e. pickleball paddle and balls); but even if you need your own paddle or balls the cost is very low to start in pickleball. You can spend as little as $50 and be all set to play for years.
But what exactly do I need to start playing pickleball?
You need a pickleball paddle, some balls and a net; and a place to play, of course. Each of these is explained in greater detail below.
How about special clothing or sneakers?
Nope, just something comfortable as you move around the court. Well, good sneakers as support and grip will be important. Here too, you can spend tons of money but resist – just think of a quality sneaker.
I’m still hesitant…
Not sure that’s a question, nut you really should just dive into pickleball. Hey, maybe you’ll hate it, that’s OK, of course. But at least charge ahead and address all your hesitations of starting in pickleball.
What kind of ball is used in pickleball?
Pickleballs (or is it “pickleball ball”?) are made of hard plastic and the size is about 3 inches in diameter; they average ~ .88 oz. in weight.
What is a pickleball made of?
A pickleball is made of a lighter plastic material than a wiffleball and comprises various levels of thickness and holes that are drilled in.
They have holes?
Yes, they do. Pickleballs have a minimum of 26 holes and a maximum of 40 circular holes; the number of holes depends on whether they will be used for indoor or outdoor pickleball games.
What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs?
Outdoor pickleball balls are harder and of a heavier weight than indoor balls; they usually have 40 holes, weigh ~ .9 ounces and ever so slightly larger than the indoor balls.
Indoor pickleball balls are lighter (weighing about .8 ounces), smaller and softer than outdoor balls. They have 26 holes which are larger than the holes of the outdoor balls which means they have a lower bounce.
I heard pickleballs need to be a certain color?
No, they don’t. Recreational pickleball players tend to prefer orange over other colors. The popularity of white and yellow pickleballs is rising as well. The balls need to be a consistent color with no logos (other than the brands or manufacturer imprint) on the outside.
Lot’s of choices for color of pickleball. How do I start?
Use our handy pickleball color chooser to see what the best color of the ball should be based on the many color components of a pickleball court. This way you can see what works best and worst.
What’s the most popular pickleball?
We highly recommended the ONIX Fuse G2 (with a 5-star rating) as it is three times as durable as the original Fuse. They respond consistently and are made with a proprietary seam welding so they resist splitting and cracking. Ask around – it’s a preferred vendor and ball.
What is a pickleball paddle?
Pickleball paddles look more like paddles that are used for ping-pong tables. They are not the same as a tennis racquet. Different attributes (materials, weight, shape, etc.) of pickleball paddles impact performance on the court.
Oh my, this sounds confusing.
To find the perfect paddle for you, look at one that fits your grip and has a pleasant suppleness in the palm of your hand. It will right when you find one.
Are pickleball paddles expensive?
Yes, they can be. BUT you do not need to spend a lot of money on a pickleball paddle. A beginning pickler (as we are known!) can get away by spending no more than $30 on a very good paddle. As you become more experienced, learn more about the game and want to improve your form, you can spend as much $250 on a paddle.
Is there a difference between men’s and women’s pickleball paddles?
Yes, though the differences can be very subtle. Weight, grip, length, and color may influence which pickleball paddle you decide on.
Let me guess. The pickleball court is not like others?
You’re spot on. A standard pickleball court measures 20’x 44′.
The pickleball court is much smaller than a tennis court.
Yes, much smaller. Here’s a very simple chart showing how a pickleball court compares to tennis and badminton.
You didn’t ask but we’ll tell you.
The pickleball court composition/surface resembles a tennis court; you will not be able to tell the difference.
How many pickleball courts can you put on a tennis court?
You can fit up to 4 pickleball courts on a tennis court. Pickleball enthusiasts are converting tennis courts to pickleball courts to fulfill the need for more courts.
Is it expensive to convert a tennis court to pickleball?
It can be for sure. There are many variables such as whether permanent or temporary, how many pickleball courts, amenities, etc. Do your homework on this – any small mistake can cost you much time and money.
What is a pickleball net? Is it similar to a tennis net?
The differences between a tennis net and a pickleball net are mostly size; a pickleball net is about half as large as a tennis net (22′ vs 42′).
Rules of Pickleball
Any quick tips to help me get started?
What are the rules of pickleball?
There are some important pickleball rules to keep in mind. The ball must stay inbounds, with one bounce per side. When serving (see serve with confidence: tips for a winning pickleball serve), you must start at the baseline and make sure your serve doesn’t land in the no-volley zone (aka kitchen). Finally, the game ends when one team reaches 11, 15 or 21 points – whichever is decided before the game starts.
What’s the “one bounce per side” thing?
That “thing” is the “Two Bounce Rule”. The pickleball must bounce at least once on each side of the court, for both the serve and the return of the serve. Once this happens, either side can play the ball in the air or let it bounce.
What’s the “kitchen”?
There is a “zone”, or area, on a pickleball court that is called: non-volley, no-volley, kitchen. All the same geography on the pickleball court but you will find several interchangeable terms. It refers to the area that is seven (7) feet from each side of the net (i.e., it is on both sides of the net).
Are the rules of pickleball the same, no matter where you play?
Yes, there are set rules for pickleball that all picklers must adhere to.
Do the rules of pickleball change?
Just like most sports, pickleball goes through an annual review of the game. In particular, rules are reviewed and changed, implemented or modified. There are important rule changes and then there are really stupid tweaks to existing ones.
Wow, so I need to learn new rules all the time?
Well, not really learn new rules but certainly be aware of changes that occur to pickleball rules. Most changes or updates don’t impact the casual player – here are the highlights of the 2023 pickleball rule changes.
Scoring in Pickleball
On to scoring in pickleball – how does that happen?
A pickleball game ends when one person (or team) reaches 11 points. But, the winner has to win by at least two points.
For example, if one person has 11 points but their opponent has 10, the game continues. Game scoring can also be extended to 15 or 21. When playing singles, 11 and 15 are the most common point totals. When playing doubles, 15 and 21 are the most common.
But how do I get points?
Pickleball points are only scored on the serve; the receiving side cannot score a point. At the start of the game, the player on the right side of the court serves diagonally opposite (even) the court. If a point is scored, the server moves to the left side of the court and serves diagonally opposite (odd) the court.
How do you keep score in pickleball?
Doubles score, for example, is called as a sequence of three numbers: the serving team’s score, the receiving team’s score, and the serve position. A couple of examples are: 4 – 2 – 1 or 5 – 2 – 2
Oh boy, this sounds confusing.
Pickleball scoring rules can be tricky in the beginning but you can get through it just like millions of others. It will take time. We have a Beginner’s Guide to Pickleball Scoring that breaks it down in very simple terms and has a free download for your use.