Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping-pong and badminton that involves a smaller court and modified net.
Even though ping-pong is a recognized Olympic sport, to some unprofessional players it can feel more in the genre of a board game than the adrenaline-pumping, sweaty sports world. Pickleball takes ping-pong to the next level.
According to the USA Pickleball Association, pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, just off the coast of Seattle, Washington. Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum are given credit for the invention.
This mini-tennis is played with a small plastic baseball sized whiffle ball. It is hit back and forth across a three-foot-high net with flat solid paddles that are smaller than a tennis racquet, but larger than a ping-pong paddle. The ball still makes the satisfying ping-pong sound, but the court is bigger and involves full-body movement.
Players move across a 20 x 44 court— the same size as a doubles badminton court and around a third of the size of a normal tennis court. The middle of the court is striped and includes a non-volley zone, commonly known as “the kitchen.” The outlining stripes imitate a tennis court.
There are both indoor and outdoor courts, which leads to a variety in apparel choices— anywhere from light jackets to tank tops. There is no official pickleball garb, but tennis shoes are a must, and tennis skirts are a common choice for female players. Anything that facilitates free movement for swinging the paddle is ideal.
There are a variety of different ways to hit the ball, including elements from badminton, tennis, racquetball and ping-pong. The process of warming up for a game involves both players using the different strokes.
The “dink shot” involves just getting the ball over the net. Since the ball has holes, it moves much slower than a tennis ball and is easier to hit. Players warm up by returning the ball to each other over the net.
The “volley” involves the players returning the ball over the net without allowing the ball to touch the ground.
The “ground strokes” have their origins in tennis, where the players stand farther back on the court and let the ball bounce before returning. Front-hand and back-hand strokes are both used.
So what is with the name pickleball?
According to NBC News, the name came from the sport of rowing— where a pickled boat has a mixed crew— just like pickleball is a mix of multiple sports.
Pickleball is a favorite of the less agile crowd because of the weight of the equipment, the size of the court and the speed of the ball. Like ping-pong, it is easy to catch on to. It also doesn’t involve a ton of exertion.
If you’re looking for a fun summer activity
that doesn’t involve running and sweating buckets, pickleball could be your new favorite sport.