Let's Play Pickleball
It’s a popular game with a funny name. Pickleball® is an unlikely hybrid of several different net games, created by three friends more than 50 years ago as a way to pass the time. Little did they know just how popular it would become! According to a 2015 report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association , Pickleball currently has 2.46 million participants, many of them active adults over the age of 60. In the past few years, those numbers have only been growing, and it doesn’t take long to understand why.
In 1965, on a small island a short distance from Seattle, Washington, three friends had just returned home from a day on the golf course. What began as a game invented to keep their kids entertained would become a fun, social fitness activity for fans of all ages. Armed only with table tennis paddles and a wiffle ball, they lowered the net on their backyard badminton court and began creating a game that the kids and adults alike quickly fell in love with. The odd name came about because the ball used for those original games belonged to the family dog, a cocker spaniel named Pickles.
The Court & Equipment
Pickleball is played on a court the same size as a badminton court, with a net that is fixed at a height of 36” on the ends and 34” in the center. Additionally, a “no volley” zone of seven feet exists on each side of the net. The paddle has evolved from its origins to be roughly twice the size of a table tennis paddle, and square in shape, with rounded edges. The ball is similar to a wiffle ball, but smaller. The ball and lower net make the game accessible to people of all ages and skill levels while still allowing for a challenging match.
The Basic Rules
For most net sports, a match can be won or lost with the speed and power of the serve. Pickleball® is different in that the serve must be made underhand, and the ball must be allowed to bounce once on each side of the net before it can be volleyed back. This slows the game slightly, enabling more people to participate. The serving team serves until they fault by hitting the ball out of bounds or allowing it to touch the no-volley zone. In order to win, a team must score 11 points and lead the opposing team by no less than two points. Like tennis, Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, providing an active social atmosphere with a friendly dose of competition.
To find out why so many people of all ages and skill levels enjoy Pickleball, you have to look beyond the rules and the equipment. The simple truth is, it’s a fun, entertaining, and lively sport that encourages friendly competition. Pickleball matches are a social event, allowing friends and neighbors to stay fit while staying engaged with their community.