One afternoon in 1965, congressman Joe Pritchard and his friend Bill Bell found that they had bored kids on their hands. So they did what all resourceful dads do and they started rummaging around the house for odds and ends. They emerged with a badminton net, a wiffle ball, and some Ping-Pong paddles. After a while of playing, they realized how well the ball bounced on the ground and lowered the net to 36 inches. The game of pickleball was born! Two years later, the first pickleball court was built in Pritchard's neighbor's backyard. The men started working to develop the sport with actual rules and grow its fan base. The popularity of this sport took off and in 1984 the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) was formed. The growth of the game continues still today with competitions all over the world. It's also a very fun game to take on your camping trips.
While the first pickleball game was pretty much just thrown together with what was on hand, pickleball today has equipment specific to the sport. The evolution of the game has brought about actual paddles that are larger than Ping-Pong paddles but smaller than tennis racquets. Being made of aluminum and/or graphite, they're lightweight. The ball has round holes in it and it's a little bigger and heavier than a wiffle ball. The court is the size of a standard badminton court, which is 20' x 44'. The net stretches the width of the court and is 36" high at the sides and 34" high in the middle. You can easily convert any badminton or tennis court into a pickleball court. Now that you have what you need, you just need to know how to play!
Rules of Play
Just like badminton or tennis, pickleball can be played with singles or doubles. But unlike tennis, the size of the court stays the same either way. When serving in pickleball, it must be an underhand serve and the paddle has to make contact with the ball from under the server's waist. The serve must be made with both feet behind the baseline and neither foot may touch the line or the court until after the ball is hit. The ball must be served to the side of the court that is diagonal from the server and the server only gets one chance to serve. The first serve is made from the right side of the court and then when a point is scored, it switches to the left, then back and forth. The same team continues to serve until they commit a fault, and service is then granted to the opposing team. In pickleball, the only team that scores points is the serving team and a standard game is played to 11 points. A team scores a point when the ball lands within the lines and is missed by the opposing team. The ball must bounce at least once after a serve before the opposing team can hit it and then the serving team needs to let it bounce once after it comes back that first time. After that the ball can bounce once or be hit without touching the ground. A team loses the serve by committing a fault. If the receiving team commits the fault, the serving team gains a point. Faults include hitting the ball into the net, not allowing the ball to bounce once on each side after service, hitting the ball out of bounds, letting the ball bounce more than once before hitting it, serving incorrectly, touching the net at all while the ball is in play, or the ball hitting another player. And there you have the basics of pickleball! If you would like the full set of rules, check out the Official Tournament Rulebook on the USAPA's website. Have you ever played pickleball? How did you get introduced to pickleball? Let us know in the Comments below!