How to get started at playing pickleball: tips for beginners

Start playing pickleball with $30!

Pickleball combines elements of ping-pong, tennis, and badminton into a paddle sport played indoors and outdoors on pickleball courts. It is the fast growing sport in the US.

But you’ve heard that too many times and just want to know where to begin.

See the dos and don’ts of pickleball: etiquette tips for new players

How do you get started playing pickleball and not feel overwhelmed – it supposed to be a fun sport, and it is! The last thing you want to do is keep putting off playing pickleball – stop the pickleball procrastination!

No boring story here about how pickleball started. Do you really care? If you started to swim at your local YMCA, would you want to know the origin of swimming and where it started?

Here are the three basic steps and requirements to get started in pickleball.

Pickleball equipment

#1 Paddle for the beginner

Pickleball paddles look more like paddles that are used for ping-pong tables. They can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, or metal. The paddle face can be made from carbon fiber, glass, or graphite.

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.

Please keep this in mind:

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.

Of course, 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. Since you are a beginner, would you really know the difference? Get a paddle that feels good in your hand and does not cost an arm and a leg.

There are even differences between men’s and women’s paddles.

pickleball paddles men vs women

#2 Pickleball balls

Balls (or is it pickleball balls?) are close looking to a whiffle ball – but not identical.

There are two basic different types of pickleball balls: outdoor and indoor. Pretty simple, right?

outdoor vs indoor pickleball

Well, now you know…

Outdoor balls are usually heavier, harder, smoother and have smaller holes (around 40 holes). This allows the ball to come at the paddle faster. Indoor balls, on the other hand, are lighter, softer and have fewer holes (about 26 holes). It is important to note that outdoor and indoor balls should not be used interchangeably as they will affect the play significantly.

That’s pretty much it when it comes to balls used for pickleball.

There are dozens of colors of both indoor and outdoor balls so you want to choose a pickleball color that is good for the circumstances. For example, if the entire pickleball court is blue not sure you should select a blue ball. You need contrast to avoid confusion for you and your opponent.

One last thing about pickleballs (well, two): don’t just buy a few, buy in a good enough quantity that you don’t need to buy soon. You will go through pickleballs as they do have a life. Read the reviews and buy from a reputable manufacturer/company. Please do not get at a dollar store as you will get horrible quality!

#3 Pickleball court

Beyond the pickleball paddle and balls there is just one piece of “equipment”: that’s the pickleball court. After all, you need a place to play the sport, right?

A pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court and most closely resembles a badminton court. It is a rectangle measuring 20 feet by 44 feet. The net is placed across the center of the court, with a 7-foot non-volley zone on both sides of the net (referred to as “the kitchen”). The area behind the non-volley zone is split between right and left service areas.

typical pickleball court

Pickleball courts are sprouting up everywhere. If you do not have access to a dedicated pickleball court, you can use another available space such as a tennis court and draw lines with chalk or colored masking tape.

Many cities and towns are converting tennis courts to pickleball court with great success and without spending a ton of money. Since you are a beginner, the optimal choice would be a pickleball specific court. In other words, one that does not have both tennis court line and pickleball court lines – this can be very confusing for the beginner.

Use our [FREE] simple and intuitive Pickleball Court Estimator with exclusive features and options to create a professional cost estimate for converting a tennis court to pickleball. Get an accurate estimate on the cost – all free. And the best part is you’ll get a PDF to use now or later.

Pickleball Court Estimator

Scoring in pickleball

You knew we would do this to you.

The scoring in pickleball can sound crazy in the beginning but please have an open mind. Chances are very good that you will be playing with someone who has played before and you may have even taken a beginner’s pickleball lesson.

Because pickleball is similar to other sports, the object of the game is to hit the ball in a way that your opponent cannot return it.

The first team or player to reach 11 points in a match with a two-point advantage wins the match. If you reach a score of 11 without a two-point advantage, the game continues until one side reaches the score.

You can quickly learn the basics of pickleball scoring in no time – and be an expert in know time.

Check this out:

Below is a summary of the pickleball rules you can read now or download for later use.

FREE download of the rules of pickleball

Pickleball clothing

There are apparel companies that tailor exclusively to pickleball players and have everything pickleball-specific: shorts, footwear, bras, socks, etc. You name it and it’s out there.

You do not need any article of clothing that is made specifically for pickleball players. But, just as you may consider getting a more advanced paddle as you develop in the sport, you may want to add some pickleball apparel down the line. But you do not need it from the beginning.

Here’s a listing of what you need for pickleball apparel.

How to get started playing pickleball is easy – it really is.

Like most things in life you may be a bit hesitant to start something new. Take the dive and trust your instincts as there must be something to this relatively new sport that close to 5 million Americans are playing.

Conclusion – Your Takeaways

Beginner’s Guide to Pickleball – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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