Invented in 1965 by three dads on Bainbridge Island, whose kids were bored of regular summertime activities, pickleball is growing rapidly in popularity. It’s played in all 50 states, Canada and more people are playing internationally each year.
What Exactly Is Pickleball?
A quick google search will tell you that it’s a combination of ping pong, badminton and tennis. So we know there’s paddles and likely a net. If you visit the USA pickleball website it is described as: “Fun, social and friendly. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.”
Not being keen on playing games or participating in activities that I can’t quickly master or get a grip on, my interest was piqued. I’ve dabbled in tennis, I’ve definitely played ping pong and I know I briefly played badminton in high school one year. So, I should be a natural right?
A Quick Amazon Purchase
My first step to becoming a pro was purchasing a set of paddles on Amazon. These ones pictured here, to be exact:
So, for the low price of $39.99, me and 3 of my friends could hit up the local courts and make our way into the world of pickleball. How exciting! Now just to figure out how to play…
Learning The Rules Of Pickleball
There are 5 quick rules I was able to find online. They are as follows: the ball must stay inbounds, the ball should bounce once per side, serving must be done behind baseline to the diagonal serve court, the serve can’t land in the “kitchen” (the area between the net and the closest line on the court ), and the game ends at 11, 15, or 21 points.
Reading the rules can get a bit dense, so the best way to get a quick tutorial is to head on over to YouTube and find one that speaks to you. Most of them are under 10 minutes, and you can learn what you need to in order to play a successful first game. Below is a video I felt was easy to understand, and if you hate it, don’t worry! There are hundreds available to browse!
Heading To The Courts
When it was time for game day, I made sure to brush up on my tutorials and hope for the best. One detail I feel that I need to disclose is that one of the people coming along to play was a more experienced pickleball player. So I was lucky enough to have a built in coach in tow.
Keeping score is one of the more confusing parts of pickleball, but only takes a game or two to understand. The most important detail to scoring is that a team can only make a point if they started the serve. The receiving side cannot score a point until it is their turn to serve.
When announcing the score of a pickleball game, the score for the serving team is said first, followed by the score for the receiving team. If you’re playing doubles (which is most common), the third number of the score refers to which player is serving (1 or 2).
It’s not as confusing as it sounds when the game is in motion, I promise.
Unlike tennis, you have to serve with an underhand stroke. You also have to serve to the diagonal serving court, being sure not to have it land in the opponents “kitchen.” Serving in pickleball is not intended to do anything more than put the ball in motion. Then the fun begins.
Serving is where I struggled the most, but there’s nothing a little practice can’t help.
A Great Workout
I don’t see a lot of people I know running out to play pickleball. Usually I stick to running or cycling, but I will say that pickleball kicked my ass. My handy Apple Watch told me I burned over 700 calories in 70 minutes. That’s the same calorie burn I get on an hour long run!!! I’ll be damned. It turned out to be a lot of fun and a great workout. Pickleball might be here to stay for me.