PICKLEBALL IS ONE of America’s fastest-growing sports, so if you have never played, you will want to play after you read this post. I have wanted to write this post for a while since Bainbridge Island is where pickleball ball was born. It’s so fun to be up close and personal with the community that created this simple game played with a wiffle ball that’s all the rage.
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong using a paddle and plastic ball with holes. It is a game that is appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels.
There are many reasons for pickleballs popularity in recent years. The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) calls the sport, “highly contagious”. That’s what I hear from all my Gal Pals.
How & Where Pickleball Started
2022 marks the 57th anniversary of pickleball, as it was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, by dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum during the summer months. Since their children were bored, the dads created a new game. It evolved from the original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout North America and is now taking off in other parts of the world. The first pickleball court was built right here on Bainbridge Island.
There are now nearly 8,500 locations on the USA Pickleball’s Places2Play map that include tennis courts, parking lots, recreation centers, local parks, tennis centers and more. It’s extraordinary to see how popular pickleball is in major cities like New York City and all over the United States. I will not be surprised to see pickleball become an Olympic sport at some point.
The escalation of the sport is attributed to its popularity within community centers, PE classes, YMCA facilities and retirement communities. The sport continues to grow worldwide as well, with many new international clubs forming and national governing bodies now established on multiple continents.
“We believe pickleball makes the world a better, more joyful place. From thrilling events and experiences to high-quality live broadcasts for fans around the world, our goal is to elevate and grow the sport we love in everything we do”
NBA Legends Are Even Getting In On The Game
NBA superstar LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kevin Love is expanding their sports portfolio – this time into the US’ new favorite pastime, pickleball!
MLP founder Steve Kuhn called the investment from the three basketball stars – who have nine NBA championships between them – a “watershed moment for pickleball.”
“Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, building communities in cities and towns all over the world,” Kuhn said.
Major League Pickleball
Steve Kuhn is the founder of Major League Pickleball states, “The other 2 leagues are the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA). “They’re like the PGA Tour and we’re like the Ryder Cup”, says Kuhn in conversation with Sports History Weekly.”
While some still see pickleball as a sport for the blue hairs—with courts found in the retirement communities of Florida and Texas. They are so wrong. This simple game has found its way into the backyards or celebrities and country clubs of the one percent. The racquet sport with the quirky name is super popular amongst all ages.q
15 Reasons You Should Play Pickleball
- It’s easy to learn– If you’ve played any other kind of racket sports before, whether it was tennis, ping pong, or badminton, you will pick up the game in a snap. If you haven’t, don’t fret about it! Pickleball is easy to learn, and you will pick it up just by playing. The best way to start is to find someone that can teach you how to play.
- It’s inexpensive– the equipment is minimal
- It’s fun for any age group- Everybody is getting in on the fun fun age 4+
- It’s a community sport. Pickleball is much more than just a sport; it is a community. Pickleball and pickleball players are social (both on and off the pickleball court) and inclusive of players from all backgrounds, ages, and skill levels.
- It’s a lifetime sport. Go to Boca Raton or Palm Beach and you will see what I mean.
- You can play it indoor or outdoor- Nets are easy to set because many are portable.
- You can play singles or doubles- Pick your favorite
- There are many places to play- Today, you can enjoy pickleball in any state in the U.S., as well as in 60 countries around the world. There are currently more than 35,000 courts across the U.S., across 9,000 locations, and courts are being built at a record rate according to USAP Official Court Surface Partner, SportMaster.
- The game has a slower pace with less ground to cover
- Pickleball has a low barrier to entry.
- It’s a great workout –Pickleball is a great way to get some exercise without feeling like you’re working out. You can burn up to 350 calories per hour playing this game!
- The equipment is affordable –If you don’t have all the pickleball equipment yet, don’t worry. You can buy everything you need at very reasonable prices.
- Pickleball will improve your physical fitness (you can burn on average of 600+ calories per hour playing pickleball). The game keeps your body moving. Pickleball also leads to stronger cardiovascular and metabolic health, as well as stronger bones and muscles.
Keeps You Mentally Sharp- Pickleball will also help keep you mentally alert, as the sport involves strategy and social interaction. Pickleball will also give you a stronger, more positive mental state (those endorphins make you happy!).
Play All-Year Round- Pickleball is a sport that you can play both outdoors and indoors, which allows you to play all-year round, no matter the weather!
What Equipment Do You Need To Play Pickleball?
a. A Court
How much space is needed for a pickleball court?
The USA Pickleball Rule Book states that “a total playing surface 30’X60’ is the minimum size that is recommended. A total size of 34’X64’ feet is preferred.” The actual playing lines measure 20’ x 44’. Whenever possible, a north-south orientation should be maintained to minimize the angle of the sun in the player’s eyes.
What kind of surface is recommended for a pickleball court?
Asphalt or Concrete both provide an acceptable base for pickleball courts. Make sure to review surfacing requirements before having the base installed, as there are recommended specifications for slope, drainage, and surface finish, and overall construction.
What kind of coating should be used to surface, or paint, pickleball courts?
100% acrylic coatings are recommended for surfacing pickleball, and athletic courts. When properly applied, 100% acrylic coatings are breathable and allow some vapor transmission, which is especially important on outdoor courts. PickleMaster, the official court surface of USA Pickleball, is 100% acrylic and factory-mixed with a specialized blend of aggregate. This creates the ideal surface texture for non-slip footing, true pickleball bounce, and minimal abrasion and wear on pickleballs.
b. Pickleball Net
There are generally two common pickleball net styles and a variety of durability options. One style of net sits on the court surface, and the second style leaves a gap between the bottom of the net and the court surface. This can be convenient for rolling a pickleball under the net between points. Pickleball nets with thicker or double braided netting will last longer than the opposite. If you don’t have permanent net posts installed, there are a variety of portable net systems available in the market.
A pickleball net is meant to be 22 feet across (1 foot past each side line), with a height of 36 inches on the sideline, and 34 inches in the middle. Look for nets that meet the picketball regulations for length and drop for the center.
c. Pickleball Paddle
A paddle is the most significant piece of equipment you require when playing pickleball. Competitive composite paddles used in pickleball are super high tech.. While pickleball paddles are primarily unisex, there are several of the features to keep in mind when shopping for a paddle for a female athlete.
There are three things to consider when purchasing a pickleball paddle:
a. Grip thickness
Paddle grips are classified as “Thin” and “Standard.” A thin grip is best for smaller hands that prefer paddle control and grip comfort. A standard grip provides extra comfort for larger hands and may allow for increased control for players with more arm strength. While a standard grip manages to be the first fit for most players, a thin grip tends to be the best fit for female competitors.
b. Paddle Weight
Paddle weights are classified into lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight models. Lightweight paddles are 7.3 ounces or lighter, middleweight paddles are between 7.3 and 8.4 ounces, and heavyweight paddles are 8.5 ounces and heavier.
The most popular pickleball paddle weight are middleweight, women tend to like to play with the lightweight paddles.
c. Experience Level
Your player experience level will determine which pickleball paddle is best for you.
Beginner paddles are ideal for new game players and the professional designs are considered being some of the best paddles on the market. If you are unsure what type of paddle to get, go with an intermediate paddle.
Pickleballs look just like a whiffle ball. The plastic ball is hollow with holes. There are indoor and outdoor pickleballs. The difference is based on what type of surface you are playing on. The harder balls are used for outdoor surfaces and have smaller holes based on wind. Make sure you buy picketballs that are approved by the USA Pickleball Association
e. Athletic Shoes and Apparel
Pickleball requires lots of lateral movement as well as thrusting forward and back; your conventional running or athletic shoe is built for movement in a straight line and won’t have the support required to stabilize your foot when moving in different directions. You may also twist your ankle if you wear running shoes.
With that said, a court sneaker, be it tennis or indoor court, is found precisely for lateral motion, so tennis shoes work well for pickleball
Recommended Pickleball Equipment and Items for the Avid Pickleball player
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What is the strategy of Pickleball?
“Pickleball is an unsolved sport. Everyone is adding new shots and strategies all the time— meaning that nobody really knows the “correct” things to do. The game is still so new that most people are still learning and adapting to other players. It’s a whole mental game where one player will do something, and everyone has to react to that player—and that’s what makes it a lot of fun, because you’re having to figure it out as you go along.” – Ben Johns Major League Pickleball Player
When the ball is served over the net, the receiving team must let the ball bounce before returning, and then the serving team must let it counche before returning, so there is two bounces after a serve. After the ball has bounced once in each team’s court, both teams may either volley the ball or play if off the bounce.
Luxury resorts across the country are converting tennis courts into pickleball courts at an astonishing rate. The demand for the sport has tickled investors who are now clamoring for ways to control and take advantage of the professional pickleball leagues growing everywhere.
According to the annual Sports, Fitness & Leisure Activities Topline Participation Report from USA Pickleball, over 4.8 million Americans picked up a pickleball racquet last year—and despite the pandemic, the sport has grown 39.3% over the last two years. This sport is here to stay!
As the fastest growing sports, the game of pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and squash that can be played in singles — two players facing off against each other across a net — or doubles, with two players on each side.
The game is simple to learn It’s simple to grasp—“easy to learn, hard to master,” which makes it challenging and fun. My friends that are avid pickelball players tell me that they have switched from playing tennis to pickeball because the injury rate is much lower. Its design, which includes a no-volley zone near the net, minimizes running, as does the vast popularity of doubles. It’s a social game and can become addicting.
Pickleball, is played with paddles and a Wiffle-like ball, has exploded in popularity in late. During the pandemic, more than a million Americans started playing it, contributing to the overall participants of five million. Stars and athletes play pickleball (Michael Phelps, Leonardo DiCaprio, the Clooneys); so do grandparents, parents, and youngsters, often together.
Tips For New Pickleball Players From The USA Pickleball (The National Governing Body for the sport of pickleball in the U.S.)
Listen and accept suggestions that you’ve violated a rule. It’s to your benefit.
Don’t try to serve hard or near the sidelines.
Loft service returns so they go deep, giving you time to get to the non-volley line.
Remember that both the serve and the serve return must bounce before you can hit the ball, so remain at or behind the baseline after serving to receive the third shot.
Always get to the non-volley line as soon as you can. It’s the strongest position.
Face the player who will hit the ball, not the net. You will be better placed to hit the ball.
Keep your paddle high, near your chest; your reaction time will be quicker.
Keep the ball in play — let your opponent make the mistakes. Seventy-five percent of all rallies are won or lost because of unforced errors, many of them at the baseline.
Return your baseline shots to the center line as often as you can.
Use your forehand for power, especially on the serve return, but also developing a good backhand will give you a more complete game.
Placement is much more important than power; emphasize control over pace.
Don’t try to make a lot of sideline shots; they are low percentage. Hit to open areas (i.e., hit it where they aren’t).
Make note whether an opponent is right or left handed. Avoid hitting to the opponent’s strong side.
Don’t take your partner’s shots away by crowding his/her position. Do move to the centerline when your partner is pulled to the sideline to return a shot.