Pickleball - what is it

What Is Pickleball And How Do You Play?

Contents

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a ball sport played with paddles and on a court with a net, usually with four players but sometimes with two. Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America and is building a global following.

When was Pickleball Created?

Pickleball was created by three friends in the summer of 1965 at the home of one of the creators on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. The house was away from the city, and the children present were complaining that there was nothing to do.

When the adults suggested that the children create their own game, the children challenged the adults to do it if it was so easy. Three men took up the challenge, developed a functioning version of the game that afternoon, and slowly worked on getting more specific equipment in the time that followed.

Who Created Pickleball?

Pickleball was created by Joel Pritchard in his home along with his friend, Bill Bell, and neighbor Barney McCallum, who had a reputation for being good with his hands and could craft the proper equipment.

Joel Pritchard

Joel Pritchard, born in 1925, was the host of the gathering that led to the foundation of pickleball, owning the home on Bainbridge Island, near to his native city of Seattle, Washington. Joel was an avid sportsman, so the challenge from his son Frank to create a fun game came naturally to him.

Joel had a long career in politics, first entering the Washington State House of Representatives in 1959 and then the Washington Senate in 1967. Joel entered federal politics when he became a representative at the United States House of Representatives in 1973. Joel returned to his home state to serve as the Lieutenant Governor of Washington in 1989 before retiring in 1997.

Bill Bell

Bill Bell was born in 1924 in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and like Joel, also worked briefly in politics, where the two met. The bulk of Bill’s career, however, was in the private sector. These jobs took him to many locations in Asia and the rest of the Pacific Rim, and he utilized these opportunities to spread pickleball to those regions.

Barney McCallum

Barney McCallum was born in 1926 in Davenport, Washington, and remained in the state for the majority of his early life, excluding his service in the United States Navy. Barney was initially brought onto the project for his handiness, but it was his keen business sense that led to the development and expansion of Pickle-Ball, Inc, which he co-founded with Joel and Bill.

How Do You Play Pickleball?

Pickleball is played in either singles or doubles. The first server on the serving team has to bounce the ball once in the opposing team’s court before they can return it, and the serving team needs to let it bounce once on the way back as well. After this, players are allowed to hit the ball without waiting for it to bounce.

The servers change first from the first server on the serving team to the second, and then, in the event of a side out, from the serving team to the opposing team. All serves are done diagonally crosscourt.

How Do You Score in Pickleball?

In doubles, the score is made up of three numbers – the serving team’s points, the opposing team’s points, and the server number. In singles games, the server number is not kept track of because there is only one server per team. The server always calls out the score before serving. The order of the first two numbers (or both numbers in singles) changes when the serving team changes.

Only the serving team can score a point, which occurs when the opposing team commits a fault. If the serving team commits a fault, they change to the second server. When the second server commits a fault, a side out occurs and the opposing team becomes the serving team. In singles, there is no second server.

What are the Rules of Pickleball?

Pickleball has specific rules that can be different from similar games like tennis. Let’s look at a few of them.

Who Serves First?

The first serve from the serving team in doubles is made from the player on the right side. With the exception of the very first serve of a game, when the server commits a fault, the second server serves until they too commit a fault, at which point serving teams change.

What is Considered In the Line?

Balls that hit the line are considered to be in. The only exception is the line of the non-volley zone, which gives a player who serves onto it a fault.

What Happens on a Fault Serve?

If the fault is committed by the serving team, this either leads to a change of server, or in the case of the second server committing a fault, a side out, changing the serving team. If a fault is committed by the receiving team, the serving team score a point.

How Do You Win Pickleball?

Typically, pickleball games are played until a team reaches 11 points, win by 2. This can be higher in tournament games, with common target scores being 15 and 21.

How Many People Can Play Pickleball?

Pickleball can be played either in doubles or in singles. Doubles are more common and have two players in each of the two teams, making a total of four players in a game. Singles have only one player per team, for a total of two players per game.

What is the Size of a Pickleball Net?

The height of a pickleball net is 3 feet at the sidelines, but this will generally droop down to 34 inches at the lowest point. The USA Pickleball Association officially record the width of the net as 22 feet, stretching just beyond the 20-foot width of the court.

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What is the Size of a Pickleball Paddle?

The official rulebook for pickleball restricts the combined width and length of all parts of the paddle to 24 inches. The length of the paddle must be within 17 inches.

Can You Use a Tennis Racquet for Pickleball?

The construction of tennis racquets is far too different from that of pickleball paddles, and for this reason, it is not appropriate to use them in a pickleball game. A pickleball paddle is a hard, flat surface that the balls bounce off immediately, whereas tennis racquets have a mesh of strings that bend on impact instead.

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What Ball Do They Use for Pickleball?

The USA Pickleball Association and the International Federation of Pickleball agreed on specific definitions on what characteristics a ball used in the sport should have in 2016. The balls allowed must have a smooth surface, be 73 to 75.5 millimeters in diameter, weigh between 22 and 26.5 grams, and have between 26 and 40 circular holes. They also agreed on the technical specifications for the bounce, hardness, construction, and markings.

Related: The Best Pickleball combination sets for beginners

Are There Pickleball Tournaments?

On an international level, the biggest pickleball tournament is the Bainbridge Cup, organized by the International Federation of Pickleball. The first Bainbridge Cup was held in 2017 and became an annual event until the 2020 tournament had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a chance that pickleball may even become an Olympic sport soon.

In America, the USA Pickleball Association hosts multiple tournaments, including the National Championships; the National Championships Series, itself divided into six tournaments; the twelve Diamond Regionals; the Diamond Amateur Championship that the former culminate in; and the National Indoor Championship.

Is There an Official Pickleball Website?

The current authority on pickleball within America is the USA Pickleball Association, which has an official website. To represent pickleball on a global scale, the International Federation of Pickleball was created in 2010, and they too have an official website.

Can You Play Pickleball on a Tennis Court?

If you don’t have access to a pickleball court but there’s a tennis court in reach, this makes for an easy and convenient substitute. The reason that this works is that tennis courts are larger than pickleball courts. As long as you have some way to indicate the bounds of a pickleball court, such as by placing down household or outdoor items, the difference will be minimal.

Do They Make Portable Pickleball Nets?

Portable pickleball nets are manufactured and sold by a variety of companies and are easily available, including through online orders. These are often sold as entire portable systems, including not only the net but also the poles and all other parts of the assembly so that you can create your pickleball court anywhere. These systems can usually be dismantled to fit in a duffel bag.

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Conclusion

We’ve learned the very basics of what is pickleball, including where and when it was created, an overview of the most fundamental rules, the kinds of equipment that are used, and a bit about the two organizations that represent the sport both internationally and within the United States of America.

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References

https://www.usapickleball.org/docs/ifp/USAPA-Rulebook.pdf

https://www.ifpickleball.org/official-program

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56324048.amp

https://usapickleball.org/tournaments/national-championships/

https://usapickleball.org/tournaments/national-championships-series/

https://usapickleball.org/tournaments/usa-pickleball-diamond-regionals/

https://usapickleball.org/tournaments/diamond-amateur-championship

https://usapickleball.org/tournaments/national-indoor-championships/

https://usapickleball.org/

https://www.ifpickleball.org/

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