Today, we’re going back to fundamentals, answering the question that every pickleball player had at the start of their trip: How do you play pickleball?
So, whether you’re here to refresh your memory or you’re just getting started in the sport we love, this piece is for you.
Pickleball is a popular paddle sport that incorporates aspects of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. It was established in the mid-1960s as a backyard game for children, but it has since evolved into a popular sport for people of all ages in the United States and is gaining popularity globally.
Pickleball is played on a court the size of a badminton court with a net in the center. A match begins with an underhand serve from beyond the baseline, with the goal of landing the ball in the diagonal service court on the opponent’s side while clearing the non-volley zone, sometimes known as the “kitchen.”
The receiving team must allow the ball to bounce once before returning the serve, which is referred to as the “double bounce” or “two bounce” regulation. The ball can be volleyed (struck before it bounces) or played off a bounce after it has bounced once on either side.
Volleying is not permitted when a player is in the non-volley zone or “kitchen.” Teams may only get points when serving, and a point is earned when the serving team wins a rally. The game continues until one team achieves 11 points and leads by at least two points. These are the fundamental principles of pickleball, however there are more strategic components and more sophisticated rules that may be learnt with time.
Pickleball paddle: Pickleball paddles are somewhat bigger than table tennis paddles but smaller than tennis rackets and are often constructed of lightweight composite materials.
Pickleball ball: Pickleball balls, like wiffle balls, are lightweight plastic balls with holes.
Pickleball Court: Pickleball Court: The court is roughly the size of a doubles badminton court, with a few important variances. It’s typically 20 feet wide by 44 feet long, with a net in the center. The court is separated into zones, one of which is the “kitchen” or non-volley zone.
Serving: The game starts with one side serving the ball. Before striking, the ball must be hit into the air and served underhand. The server smashes the ball diagonally to the side of the opponent, aiming towards the service court opposite them. The ball must pass through the non-volley zone, or “kitchen,” and settle on the service court of the receiving side.
Return of Serve: Before returning the serve, the receiving team must let the ball bounce once. This is known as the “two bounce” or “double bounce” rule.
Rally: Once the ball has bounced once on either side, players can volley it (strike it before it bounces) or play it off a bounce. However, volleying the ball is not permitted while a player is in the non-volley zone, sometimes known as the “kitchen.”
Scoring: A team can only score a point when it is serving. A point is awarded if the serving team wins the rally. If the receiving team wins the rally, they do not score a point, but instead assume control of the serve.
Winning the Game: The game is over when one team has 11 points and is at least two points ahead.
The Kitchen: The “kitchen,” or non-volley zone, stretches 7 feet on both sides of the net. If a player is in this zone, he or she cannot volley the ball (hit it out of the air without letting it bounce). They can, however, enter the kitchen and play with a ball that has bounced inside.
Faults: Faults include hitting the ball out of bounds, failing to clear the net, volleying the ball from the kitchen, and failing to observe the double bounce rule on the serve or return of serve. If the serve does not fall diagonally in the right service court, the serving side additionally commits a fault.
Serving Sequence: In doubles pickleball, each team serves until they commit a fault, at which time the serve is passed to the other team. Except for the very first serve of the game, each member on a team gets an opportunity to serve before the serve transfers to the other team.
Master the Serve and Return: While the pickleball serve is not as aggressive as the tennis serve, it is still a crucial component of the game. Serve far into the opponent’s court to push them back and earn an early edge. Similarly, a well-placed return of serve may put the serving side under strain.
Control the Net: Typically, the team that controls the net controls the point. Positioning yourself near the net (but outside of the non-volley zone) allows you to respond swiftly to volleys and put pressure on your opponents.
Use the “Third Shot Drop” technique: This is a strategy employed by the serving side following the return of serve (the second shot of the rally). The third shot is a soft shot that is intended to drop into the non-volley zone, forcing your opponents to hit upward and allowing you to advance and acquire control of the net.
Patience is essential: Pickleball sometimes entails protracted rallies with a lot of back-and-forth. Be patient, wait for your chance, and avoid pushing shots that aren’t available.
Pickleball was created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, a short ferry journey from Seattle. The game was created by three fathers, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, to entertain their children who were bored with their regular summer pastimes. The term “pickleball” was inspired by Pritchard’s family dog, Pickles, who would chase after and steal the ball.
The game acquired popularity owing to its enjoyable nature and ease of use, and it began to expand. The first documented pickleball event was conducted in 1976, and the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) was founded in 1984 to promote the sport. Pickleball is now popular all around the world, and it’s especially popular in senior communities because to its low-impact, sociable aspect.
And there you have it – an in-depth look at the amazing world of pickleball! We hope this tutorial has been helpful to you, whether you’re a newbie beginning from scratch or an experienced player looking for a refresher. Remember that, like any other sport, the genuine spirit of pickleball cannot be adequately represented in words. So grab a paddle, take a seat on the court, and discover the fun of the game for yourself.
WeLovePickleball is always here to help you on your journey, answer your questions, and share your passion for this amazing sport. Keep checking back for more ideas, techniques, and insights to help you take your game to the next level. Keep serving, volleying, and, most importantly, having fun till then! After all, it is the essence of pickleball.
Good luck, and see you on the court!