Have you ever wanted to learn all about pickleball? Similar to tennis and ping-pong in some ways, pickleball is a highly unique paddle sport using a wiffle ball, a tennis-like net separating the two sides of the badminton-size court.
One of the defining factors of pickleball, you’ll note, is the non-volley zone nestled up against the net. The players on either side must not serve from within this zone, and the opposing player may not volley the return serve.
As such, pickleball typically favors an older crowd who have less mobility. But that is not to say players of all ages cannot enjoy pickleball. It’s common for community centers, school gyms, local parks, and athletic clubs to host pickleball games, inviting children, teens, and adults of all ages to play.
The Basics of Pickleball
Before we dive too far into the in-depth details of pickleball, let us explore the basics. At its core, as we mentioned before, pickleball combines the styles of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. A few other notable features we think you’ll enjoy include:
- You can play pickleball both indoors and outdoors on an appropriately sized court with an accompanying tennis net, albeit a modified one.
- Players on either side of the net are equipped with a paddle and wiffle ball.
- Like tennis, pickleball is best for both doubles and singles.
- All ages, skill levels, and mobility levels are welcome to enjoy pickleball.
The History Behind Pickleball
In 1965, while enjoying a relaxing game of golf, Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard, alongside business executive Bill Bell, found themselves with little to do for the afternoon. Pritchard’s property features a decrepit badminton court, but the two could not find equipment to play. Instead, they improvised. Both men donned ping-pong paddles, and a wiffle ball then lowered the net on the court. Thus, the game of pickleball was invented.
In 1967, the first official pickleball court was built on Pritchard’s property. In 1972, they built an organization to protect the sport. Each year since, the sport has grown. By 1990, folks in over 50 states enjoyed pickleball. Today, USA Pickleball aims to host national championships and align themselves with other US sports franchises.
How to Play Pickleball
But enough of the history lesson. You’re here because you want to learn how to play pickleball, right?
As we mentioned earlier, today’s pickleball games are held on badminton-sized courts, which are 20’ x 44’. With a player or team of two on either side of the lowered tennis-style net, the ball is served diagonally, and only players who serve may score points during a round.
When the ball passes over the net, players on either side must allow the ball to bounce off the court once before volleying. But again, they may remain outside of the no-volley zone at the front of their side.
The first player or team to score eleven points and lead by two wins the game.
Starting at the right-hand service-square, then alternating every serve, players serve the ball diagonally across the net. Each serve must clear the seven-foot non-volley zone and the net, then land in the opposing team’s service court.
A serve should always be underhanded with the paddle held below waist level, and the player must keep their feet behind the back line at all times. Furthermore, you may not bounce the ball on the court, then swing and serve. The ball is tossed into the air, then served over the net.
Whichever team serves first will continue to do so until a fault occurs, then the opposing side takes over serving.
A volley in pickleball, like in tennis, is when one player strikes the ball in the air without allowing it to bounce off the court. The only time players are allowed to volley in this manner is when both feet are behind the non-volley zone line, which is seven feet behind the middle net.
Should a player mistakenly step into the no-volley zone, a fault occurs.
The double-bounce rule or two bounce rule requires every team to play their strike from the bounce. Essentially, the serve must first bounce off the court before the receiving team may play it.
From there, the ball is in play, and both teams may volley and play off the bounce so long as they remain outside of the no-volley zone.
We have mentioned faults multiple times now. You are likely confused as to their meaning, so let us clear that up now.
A fault occurs when a ball:
- Touches the non-volley zone during a serve.
- Falls out of bounds.
- Does not clear the net.
- Is volleyed from within the no-volley zone.
- Is volleyed before the ball bounces off the court on both sides of the net.
How to Score in Pickleball
Of course, like all other games, the entire point of pickleball is to score points and win. You want to win, right?
To score a point in pickleball, you must be on the serving team. A player who serves will keep serving until a fault occurs.
Like in tennis, if a player on the opposing team misses their volley and the ball bounces within their side of the court, then out, the serving team receives a point.
Getting Started in Pickleball
Thankfully, Pritchard and company designed pickleball so that anyone can pick-up the game and play in a single afternoon without much investment.
You can find entire pickleball sets both online and in many sports equipment stores. If you do not have the funds to buy a set, any old ping-pong paddle set and cheap wiffle ball will suffice.
Find yourself a friend and a warm afternoon, alongside your cheap equipment, and you’re playing pickleball!
We hope you’ve discovered a brand-new sport to eat up your free time. If you have any questions about pickleball, know that you’re joining an incredibly welcoming and friendly community of players who enjoy the sport for fun. Of course, the competitive scene is buzzing right now, if you prefer to battle head-to-head for a win on the courts.
Check out some of our other guides:
Learn: Pickleball Strategy: Complete Beginner’s Guide, Why is it Called Pickleball?, Pickleball Rules, Pickleball Court Dimensions, What is Pickleball?, Pickleball Singles vs Doubles – Strategies and Rules, and How to Play Pickleball Singles-Skinny Singles!
Equipment: What Type of Pickleball Paddle is Best?, Best Pickleball Shoes, Learn More About Pickleball Equipment and Where to Buy It, The Best Pickleball Balls for the Money-Buying Guide and Reviews, Best Pickleball Clothes for Men and Women, Best Pickleball Accessories And Must-Have Gear, and Best Pickleball Paddle.