It may sound like a snack, but pickleball is a sport that’s popular in North America and Europe. Reports say that there are currently 2.5 million players in the United States.
The reason the activity is becoming very popular is that it’s low-impact compared to other racquet games. Most of its players are over 60 years of age, so it’s a great way to stay active without risking injury.
If you want to take up the sport, read on to learn more.
Pickleball, which resembles tennis, came into existence on Bainbridge Island, WA, in 1965. Three dads invented it during summer vacation to entertain their children.
The men combined tennis, badminton, and ping pong elements to come up with their unique game.
It’s very inexpensive to take up the sport. Players use paddles similar to those used in ping pong and a Wiffle ball. The playing area is the standard doubles badminton court’s size, which is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide.
How to Play Pickleball
Whether you’re a recreational player or professional, you must learn and comply with pickleball rules set by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP).
Here’s a simplified form of the regulations to get you started in the game.
First, you must decide whether you’ll play singles or doubles matches. Then, choose court sides and if you want to serve or receive.
Servers start in their right-side service court. Players switch to the other side with each alternating serve.
When serving, your feet should be behind the backline, and you have to use an underhand stroke, moving your arm in an upward arc. Your paddle must make contact with the ball while below the waist.
Your serve needs to be diagonal and land in the opponent’s court. If you commit a fault, the opposing side takes over service.
Double Bounce Rule
The double-bounce rule requires the server and opponent to let the ball bounce once before regular play with volleys and groundstrokes can start.
For instance, the server hits the ball over the net. The second player lets it rebound off the ground and serves it back. The former has to allow the ball to bounce once before returning the serve.
Players commit faults when the ball:
- touches parts of the non-volley zone (NVZ) during a serve.
- goes out of bounds.
- is volleyed from the NVZ.
- doesn’t clear the net.
- doesn’t bounce on each side of the net.
You only score points when serving and continue until you commit a fault. You gain a point when your opponent fails to return a fair ball.
To win the game, you must hit 11 points and have a 2-point margin. If the score is level at ten each, either player needs another two points to clinch the game.
No-volley Zone (NVZ)
The no-volley zone is a seven-foot area on each side of the net to prevent players from smashing the ball while being in the sector. Volleying the ball within the NVZ makes it harder for the opponent to return it.
This section is commonly called “the kitchen.”
Tips for New Players
If you’re new, these recommendations will help you improve your game quicker:
- Accept when you’ve violated a rule and learn from it.
- Don’t serve hard or close to the sidelines.
- Loft service returns deep, so you have time to get to the non-volley line.
- When serving, remember the double-bounce rule and remain at the baseline to receive the third shot.
- The non-volley line is the most vital space, so get there often.
- Face the player who will hit the ball, so you’ll be in a better position to hit it back.
- Hold your paddle near your chest to increase your reaction time.
- Avoid unforced errors. Keep the ball in play and let your opponent make mistakes.
- Use your forehand for power but develop a solid backhand to give you a significant advantage.
- Control your placement more than using power.
- Focus on your opponent’s weaker side.
- Don’t crowd your partner’s position.
Enjoy the Game
Now you know the rules. It’s time to challenge someone. Unless you’re planning to be a professional player, it’s best to have fun and enjoy the game.