Join the Latest (Possibly Greatest) Sports Craze: Pickleball

August 03, 2023


If you're calling yourself a "pickler," then you're already in the know and a part of America's fastest growing sport. If this sounds like a jar of vegetables, then you're in the right place to learn and get hooked on the fun new game called Pickleball.

The sport has trended towards older people in the past — half of all serious pickleball players in 2021 were 55 and older, according to its national governing body, the USA Pickleball Association. But in the last few years, there's been a recent rise in retirees and younger devotees; the vast majority of casual players are under 55, and the fastest-growing segment of all pickleball players is under 24.

Are you intrigued yet?

So...What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. While it might seem similar to tennis, it lends itself more to playing table tennis — if you’re standing at the table. In pickleball, the serve is underhanded, slower-paced, and there’s less ground to cover.

Contrary to what you think, pickleball has very little to do with actual pickles. In fact, pickleball was founded by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in the summer of 1965. Within days, Joan Pritchard had come up with the name “pickleball”—a reference to the College tradition of combining different rowers in different boats called "pickle boat" races. Many years later, as the sport grew, the story got out that the game was named after the family dog, Pickles. Joan and the Pritchard family have held fast for decades, and the dog came along a few years later and was named after the game.

Many speculate the growth in popularity of pickleball is because it’s a sport that is easy to learn (it takes just about 15 minutes) and is fun for anyone of all ages. It’s a social sport that can be safely played outdoors at a distance (which was an excellent fit for the early pandemic, when the sport gained popularity). And though pickleball has been around for a long time (since 1965), it wasn’t until the COVID pandemic that it got a lot of attention.

Pickleball can be played standing or in wheelchairs, indoors or out. Players don’t have to run a lot, as they do while playing tennis — making it a much more accessible sport for the whole family.

How to Play Pickleball?

Pickleball Court

According to the official USA Pickleball rules, the sport can be played as singles or doubles on a badminton court. To begin, one team will be chosen to serve, and the player standing on the right-hand side of the court will serve underhand diagonally across the court. The ball must bounce on the other side of the net within the service box, beyond the kitchen line.

Once it bounces, the opposite team can then return the ball by hitting it back. The ball must bounce on its way back but can only bounce once on each side. Then, players will return the ball back and forth either in the air or after a single bounce without stepping into the designated “kitchen” area.

If there is a double bounce, the pickleball hits someone, someone hits the pickleball out of the lined court, or the pickleball hits the net, the round stops, and the team that did not falter gets one point. 

How to Score? 

When it comes to scoring, the interesting part about pickleball gameplay is that only the serving team can score points. Normally, games are played to 11, and the team must win by 2 points. Tournaments games are typically played to 15 or 21 and also must win by 2.


Each player must be equipped with a pickleball paddle, which is smaller than a tennis racquet and a bit bigger than a ping-pong paddle. They are primarily made of lightweight composite materials, including aluminum and graphite. You can become a "paddle head" and dive into the difference between pickleball paddles. From tangible factors like materials, weight, and shape to intangible factors like craftsmanship, innovation, and sourcing — your level of interest in the sport might justify spending $20 vs $200 on a paddle. 

As for the ball, pickleball can be compared to a wiffle ball due to the hollowness, holes, and similar size — but they are different since pickleballs are slightly heavier and the hole shapes aren't the same. They come in a variety of colors but must be a solid shade to comply with the International Confederation of Pickleball's guidelines.

Lastly, you need a net! They must be 36 inches high by 22 feet wide.

Benefits of Playing Pickleball

Playing Pickleball

Athleticism is unnecessary to play pickleball, which is why the sport is so popular among a wide range of ages. But that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park.

Pickleball is a great way to get your body moving and your heart pumping. But this sport, in particular, is easier on your body, especially your joints, to play than sports like tennis or racketball. Because of this, there’s less of a chance of injuring yourself.

The sport does have its fair share of players who take it seriously — so in that case, speed, agility, and coordination ramp up the gameplay. 

A study from Western Colorado University found that picklers averaged a heart rate of 109 beats per minute and burned 354 calories per hour, which qualifies it as a moderate-intensity workout alongside yoga, hiking, and water aerobics. That’s a pretty decent workout! And with its smaller paddle, your cognitive health is also challenged by constant hand-eye coordination. 

Pickleball and Beyond

Believe it or not, a professional league for the quickly-growing court sport is called Major League Pickleball (MLP). It includes 12 teams, with each squad consisting of two women and two men.

The rapidly growing sports league has attracted dozens of high-profile athlete owners and investors to professional play, including celebrities like Selena Gomez, Emma Watson, NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and Tom Brady and Drew Brees. This pickleball celebrity list isn't just a tabloid-style piece. Instead, it's a testament to the universal appeal of the game.

Let Me Tell You About a Dink

Let's Dink T-Shirt

The ultimate shot: the dink is a finessed soft shot, where you hit the pickleball into the Non-Volley Zone (the Kitchen) on your opponent's side of the court. All four players in pickleball doubles will generally be at the Non-Volley Zone Line when you hit a dink. Successful dinking is the ultimate master of the art — so keep calm and dink on.


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