What is Pickleball? A Beginner's Guide to the Popular Paddle Sport

Pickleball is a dynamic paddle sport that has experienced rapid growth in recent years.

Are you looking for a fun new sport that's easy to learn and can be played by all ages? Pickleball, a game that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, has been gaining incredible popularity across the United States.

This guide will take you through the basics of pickleball, providing everything you need to get started on this exciting paddle sport. Ready to jump in? Let's discover pickleball together with the help of Pickleball Advisor!

Key Takeaways

  • Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and has evolved from a simple backyard activity to a sport with its own professional associations and international tournaments.

  • The game is played on a court that measures 20 feet by 44 feet with a net that stands at 36 inches high at the ends and 34 inches in the center. Players use paddles to hit a plastic perforated ball over the net.

  • Rules include scoring system where games typically go to 11 points requiring at least a two-point lead, as well as the non-volley zone (kitchen) rule where volleys must be executed from behind this area.

  • Professional organizations like Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP), Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), and Major League Pickleball have contributed greatly to growth of competitive play within the sport.

  • Global recognition of pickleball includes oversight by International Federation of Pickleball overseeing members from various countries and inclusion in events such as Maccabiah Games signaling its increasing popularity.

Understanding Pickleball

Pickleball is a fast-growing paddle sport with an interesting etymology and history. From its invention to its current popularity, understanding the origins of pickleball provides insight into the game's appeal.


The name "Pickleball" has a rather quirky origin, tied to the Pritchard family dog named Pickles. This pet loved chasing stray balls and often ran off with them, prompting the family to name their new game after him.

Another theory suggests the sport got its name from a term in rowing called "pickle boat," where oarsmen were chosen from leftovers of other boats.

Despite these differing tales, what's clear is that this unique paddle sport owes its memorable moniker either to a beloved canine or rowing lingo, making it stand out just as much in name as it does in play.

Regardless of which story you lean towards, both highlight an element of fun and spontaneity that encapsulates the spirit of pickleball.


Pickleball owes its origins to a sunny day in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Three friends, Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell crafted the game out of sheer boredom using ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.

They aimed for a sport that would be fun for their families – thus pickleball came into existence. This simple creation quickly evolved as they developed rules that combined elements from badminton, tennis, and table tennis.

The backyard game garnered more attention when the first known pickleball tournament occurred in 1976. Passionate players then established the United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) in 1984 to standardize rules and promote the sport across America.

Now it's time to delve deeper into how this unique pastime turned competitive with "Invention of Pickleball and its Growth".

Invention of Pickleball and its Growth

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three fathers on Bainbridge Island, Washington. What started as a simple backyard game has grown into a popular sport with its own governing body and professional tournaments. All you need to start is a Pickleball Paddle and a ball.

Invention Details

Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell crafted the game of pickleball out of sheer boredom in 1965. Their goal: to create a fun activity that their families could enjoy together.

They improvised using a badminton court, ping pong paddles, and a perforated plastic ball similar to a wiffle ball. As they refined the rules, these pioneers prioritized simplicity and excitement.

Their innovation quickly took root on Bainbridge Island, Washington state. What started as family entertainment soon blossomed into an organized sport with its first formal tournament in 1976.

This marked the beginning of Pickle Ball, Inc., which further propelled the popularity of this dynamic pastime across communities far and wide. Moving on from here, we dig even deeper into the establishment of Pickle Ball, Inc., and how it catapulted pickleball onto larger stages.

Pickle Ball, Inc.

Pickle Ball, Inc. sparked a revolution in the world of sports by manufacturing the first wooden paddles designed specifically for pickleball, along with kits that included everything needed to play the game.

This happened four years after pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island in 1964. Their efforts paved the way for an organized sport structure and helped standardize equipment.

The company took bold steps to promote and support this nascent sport, which eventually led to hosting the inaugural formal pickleball tournament in 1976. Their pioneering spirit continued as they played a role in establishing foundational organizations like the United States Amateur Pickleball Association in 1984, setting up a solid framework from which professional pickleball would eventually rise.

Tournaments & Professional Recognition

After Pickle Ball, Inc. set the stage for the growth of pickleball, the sport gained significant professional recognition through various tournaments and competitions. Notable highlights include:

  1. The U.S. Pickleball National Championships near Palm Springs, California, co - hosted by Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.

  2. The U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, Florida, attracting top players from around the world.

  3. Thousands of pickleball tournaments throughout the United States showcasing professional players and leagues.

  4. Investments from high - profile athletes such as LeBron James and Drew Brees have elevated professional pickleball's profile.

  5. Broadcasting of professional pickleball tournaments on major networks like Fox Sports, ESPN, and CBS Sports has expanded the sport's reach.

Exploring the Court and Equipment

The court specifications, net description, ball type, and paddle details are essential to understanding the game of pickleball. Each element plays a crucial role in the overall game experience and should be explored thoroughly by beginners.

Court Specifications

The pickleball court measures 20 feet by 44 feet, meeting regulation standards for both singles and doubles play. The net height is set at 36 inches on the ends and 34 inches at the center.

Additionally, there's a designated non-volley zone called "The Kitchen," spanning a 7-foot area where players must allow the ball to bounce before hitting it.

These standard dimensions ensure consistent gameplay across all levels, promoting fair and competitive matches. The precision in measurements aims to maintain a balance between offensive and defensive strategies while emphasizing skillful shot placements within the court boundaries.

Net Description

The pickleball net stands 34 inches high, dividing the court into two halves. Its height allows for a challenging yet not overwhelming barrier to players. The net’s design enables gameplay that blends agility and accuracy, essential elements of the sport.

Made with durable materials, it withstands the impact of balls and paddles while maintaining its tautness throughout intense matches.

Constructed to standard specifications, the sturdy net serves as a pivotal element in regulating fair play and facilitating rapid volleys. Players must strategize their shots efficiently over this central feature, ensuring continuous action and fostering an exhilarating game flow.

Ball Type

Pickleball is played with a perforated, hollow plastic ball that must meet specific standards. The ball must have between 26 and 40 evenly spaced circular holes and weigh between .78 and .935 ounces, ensuring fair play.

Quality and type matter as they directly impact the speed and control of the game. These balls are designed to withstand the demands of pickleball, maintaining consistent play experiences across all matches.

AttributeSet by standardized size, weight, and construction guidelines for fairness on every court. Players rely on this essential piece of equipment for an engaging game experience.

Paddle Details

Pickleball paddles, often made of wood, composite materials, or graphite, resemble oversized table tennis paddles. These paddles adhere to specific regulations: they must not exceed 17 inches in length and 7 inches in width.

Additionally, paddle weight is limited to a maximum of 14 ounces. The surface of the paddle must be smooth and flat without any texturing allowed.

Players have flexibility in choosing a paddle handle that suits their preferences as the size and grip circumference can vary. Paddle handles come in various sizes to accommodate different playing styles, providing comfort and control for players during gameplay.

Order of Play

The order of play in pickleball involves announcing the score and serving process, following a two-bounce rule, and continuing with the remainder of play. Understanding these rules is crucial for beginners to enjoy and excel in this paddle sport.

Score Announcement and Serving Process

The score in doubles comprises the serving team's score, the receiving team's score, and the server number. The serving process follows a specific order of play in pickleball. The server number is important for keeping track of the score and serving rotation.

Two-bounce Rule

The two-bounce rule in pickleball mandates that the receiver must allow the served ball to bounce once before returning it. This rule is crucial as it allows players, especially beginners, more time to maneuver and return the ball effectively.

It also promotes fair play and extends rallies, making the game more enjoyable for all participants.

Implementing the two-bounce rule ensures that both serving and receiving sides have an equal opportunity to engage in gameplay, fostering a balanced and competitive environment on the court.

Remainder of Play

After the serving process and adherence to the two-bounce rule, the remainder of play involves a series of volleys and strategic shot placements. Players aim to keep their opponents on the move while positioning themselves advantageously on the court.

The scoring system determines each point won, with rallies continuing until one side reaches 11 points with a two-point cushion. Throughout this phase, players must be mindful of their positioning within the non-volley zone, adhere to specific grips for different shots, and utilize effective footwork to maintain control over the game.

During play, players engage in quick reactions and precise shot selections as they strive to outmaneuver their opponents and gain an upper hand in positioning. Each point contributes toward achieving victory in this fast-paced yet tactically rich sport that demands both physical prowess and mental acumen.

Detailed Manner of Play

The detailed manner of play in pickleball includes understanding the scoring system, player positioning, the non-volley zone, and rules for rally and fault. This section will provide a comprehensive overview of how the game is played at an advanced level.

Scoring System

Pickleball games typically end when one side reaches 11 points, with a two-point cushion for the winning team. The scoring system follows side-out scoring, and the winning team must win by at least two points.

Each game is played until one side reaches 11 points, and if the game reaches a tie at 10-10, teams continue to play until one pulls ahead by two points.

The game of pickleball uses a straightforward scoring system in which matches are typically played to 11 points and require a two-point lead for victory. This means that when one team scores 11 or more points while maintaining a two-point margin over their opponents, they secure the win.

Player Positioning

Players must strategically position themselves in a pickleball game to cover the court effectively. Whether playing singles or doubles, proper positioning helps players anticipate and return shots accurately.

Doubles play emphasizes teamwork and communication, with partners coordinating their positions to guard against opponents' shots and maintain control of the game. As the sport's popularity grows, players are increasingly focused on improving their player positioning skills to gain an advantage over their competition.

The U.S. Pickleball National Championships showcase advanced player positioning techniques, highlighting its importance in competitive play. The International Federation of Pickleball oversees standards for player positioning strategies, emphasizing its crucial role in successful gameplay.

Non-volley Zone

The non-volley zone, also known as the 'kitchen', is a pivotal area on the pickleball court. It was established to deter smashing, making pickleball distinct as it minimizes running and diminishes the role of power in the game.

This 7-foot region along the net prohibits players from hitting volleys while inside it, promoting strategic shot placement and finesse over brute force. The non-volley zone adds an intriguing layer to gameplay, requiring players to employ skillful drop shots and dinks rather than relying solely on powerful overhead smashes.

The non-volley zone encourages quick reflexes and precise shot execution from players of all ages and skill levels. Its presence makes pickleball inclusive and suited for individuals with varying physical abilities, fostering a diverse and welcoming player base.

Rally and Fault

Transitioning from the non-volley zone to understanding the rally and fault aspects of pickleball, it's crucial to know that faults in serving and returning can occur if players serve from the wrong side of the court or fail to hit the ball into their opponent's diagonal service court.

Another common fault is volleying the ball when returning a serve.

Different types of shots such as groundstrokes, volleys, and dinks play an essential role in achieving a successful rally. These shots are crucial for maintaining control over each exchange during play, ultimately influencing the outcome of each point.

Understanding Types of Shots

Groundstrokes, volleys, and dinks are the primary types of shots in pickleball. Groundstrokes involve hitting the ball after it bounces; volleys are struck before the ball touches the ground, usually near the net; and dinks are softly played shots that arc over the net with a slight backspin.

Each shot requires specific techniques and precise control to outmaneuver opponents on the court.

Learning about these different types of shots is essential for players to strategize effectively during games and maximize their chances of winning points. Mastering each type of shot can provide a competitive edge and make for more dynamic gameplay.

It's crucial for players at all levels to invest time in developing proficiency in executing each type of shot to excel in pickleball matches.

Moving forward from understanding types of shots, we'll delve into professional pickleball associations and their impact on elevating this sport to new heights.

Professional Pickleball

Professional Pickleball is the next level of competition for dedicated players, with organizations like the Association of Pickleball Professionals and Major League Pickleball leading the way.

These organizations provide a platform for competitive play and offer opportunities for players to showcase their skills at a professional level.

Association of Pickleball Professionals

The Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) was established by Ken Herrmann, aiming to promote and develop the sport at a professional level. The organization provides a platform for players to compete in high-level tournaments and gain recognition for their skills.

With the APP's efforts, pickleball has gained significant traction as a competitive sport, attracting skilled athletes and growing a dedicated fan base.

Moving on from the accomplishments of professional pickleball associations, let's explore how this sport is gaining international recognition.

Professional Pickleball Association

The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) is closely tied to the popular paddle sport of Pickleball. PPA is linked with professional players such as Ben Johns and his brother Collin Johns, who have made a mark in the world of pickleball.

Notably, professional tournaments are now being broadcast on major networks including Fox Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN, and Tennis Channel. The PPA aims to expand the appeal of pickleball to new audiences and has contributed significantly to the surge in young players under 24 during lockdowns.

In addition, The PPA has seen a rapid increase in pickleball players under 24 years old due to its efforts during lockdown restrictions resulting in temporary sell-out portable nets.

Major League Pickleball

The Professional Pickleball Association has paved the way for elite competition, with Major League Pickleball attracting high-profile athletes and celebrities. Investments from NBA player LeBron James and retired NFL quarterback Drew Brees have fueled its growth.

Major League Pickleball commands attention, boasting an estimated 4.8 million players in the United States as of 2023. Its international reach is underscored by its association with the International Federation of Pickleball, which oversees 58 member countries as of 2021.

International Recognition

Pickleball has gained international recognition, with the United States leading in its popularity and the sport being acknowledged by the International Federation of Pickleball and World Pickleball Federation.

Read on to discover more about its global status and rule variations.

United States Status

The United States is a major hub for pickleball, hosting prestigious events such as the U.S. Pickleball National Championships near Palm Springs, California and the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, Florida.

These tournaments draw high-caliber players from around the world and have garnered attention from notable figures like Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, LeBron James of the NBA, and retired NFL quarterback Drew Brees, all investing in professional pickleball.

Moreover, professional pickleball has seen significant growth in the U.S., with increasing recognition and support from both players and enthusiasts.

International Status

Expanding beyond its American roots, pickleball has garnered international recognition, gaining momentum as a global sport with the rise of the International Federation of Pickleball.

With 58 member countries overseen by the federation in 2021 and 63 national members under the World Pickleball Federation, it's evident that interest in this paddle sport extends far beyond U.S. borders.

Notably, acceptance as a demonstration sport at the 2022 Maccabiah Games serves as a significant milestone for pickleball on its journey to becoming an internationally celebrated athletic pursuit.

International Federation of Pickleball

The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) oversees 58 member countries as of 2021. This association plays a crucial role in the international recognition and advancement of pickleball, supporting its growth and development around the world.

Working in collaboration with the World Pickleball Federation, the IFP aims to promote and advance pickleball globally, fostering its status as an Olympic sport and ensuring its presence on a worldwide scale.

With global outreach efforts at its core, the IFP remains dedicated to expanding opportunities for players across borders while championing the values of sportsmanship and camaraderie within the growing international community of pickleball enthusiasts.

World Pickleball Federation

The World Pickleball Federation (WPF) boasts 37 member nations, marking its significant global presence as of November 2022. Spearheading the international growth and recognition of pickleball, the WPF plays a pivotal role in standardizing rules and regulations, promoting competitive events, and fostering a sense of unity among diverse pickleball communities worldwide.

Its commitment to advancing the sport's reach is evident through collaborations with national associations and initiatives aimed at popularizing the game across continents. The WPF stands as a testament to the sport's widespread appeal and its promising future on an international stage.

With oversight over 58 member countries by 2021, the International Federation of Pickleball exhibits substantial influence in shaping the sport's trajectory on a global scale. This umbrella organization remains dedicated to unifying pickleball enthusiasts from various corners of the world while striving to maintain standardized protocols for fair play and competition.

Rule Variations

Explore the different rule variations in pickleball, including para pickleball and professional tour rules. Understand how these variations impact the game and who they cater to.

Para Pickleball

Para Pickleball features unique rule variations catering to players with physical disabilities, making the sport inclusive and accessible. One distinctive rule is the non-volley zone, also known as the "kitchen," which reduces the emphasis on powerful shots and favors skill and strategy instead.

Professional para pickleball tournaments have gained significant attention, now being broadcast on major networks such as Fox Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN, and the Tennis Channel. Additionally, with 60 member countries in the International Federation of Pickleball, there are efforts to elevate para pickleball to Olympic sport status.

The integration of Para Pickleball into international competitions signifies a pivotal step forward in recognizing adaptive sports at a global level while providing individuals with physical disabilities an opportunity for competitive participation.

Professional Tour Rules

Now transitioning from Para Pickleball to the world of professional play, it's crucial to understand the specific rules and regulations that govern competitive pickleball. Professional tour rules dictate various aspects such as scoring systems, player conduct, equipment standards, and tournament formats.

These rules are established by associations like the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), ensuring fair play and consistency across tournaments.

The U.S. National Championships, U.S. Open Tournament, Major League Pickleball (MLP), along with other professional tours and leagues around the world adhere to these standardized rules while attracting thousands of participants.

Professional pickleball tournaments are gaining increasing recognition globally; they are now being broadcast on several major networks including Fox Sports, the Tennis Channel, CBS Sports, and ESPN.

Controversial Issues in Pickleball

Noise controversy is a common issue in pickleball, especially in residential areas where the sound of paddle hitting the ball can cause disturbance. This has led to debates and discussions about how to mitigate noise levels without compromising the sport's integrity.

Noise Controversy

The noise generated by the hard paddle striking the hard ball in pickleball has sparked conflict between court owners and nearby property owners. This issue has led to bans on pickleball in some areas, as residents complain about the disruptive sound echoing through neighborhoods.

The controversy surrounding noise levels during play continues to be a significant consideration for communities and policymakers as they navigate the growing popularity of this fast-paced sport.

In response to the increased attention on noise concerns, various strategies are being explored to address these issues while also ensuring that players can continue enjoying their sport.

Getting Started with Pickleball

Before diving into the game, it's essential to know the basics of pickleball and find lessons, courts, and a community to get started. Learning the rules and techniques is crucial for an enjoyable experience on the court.

Things to Know Before Playing

Before playing pickleball, it's important to familiarize yourself with the rules and court specifications. Understand that pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, and the court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, with a non-volley zone at the center.

Additionally, players should know that the game was created in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell, leading to its increasing popularity with over 4.8 million players participating by 2023.

It’s crucial for beginners to grasp that participation in pickleball has led to an increase in treatment costs for related injuries. Also note that various tournaments and professional leagues have been established for this paddle sport – Pickleball now stands as a globally recognized sport with international federations such as World Pickleball Federation promoting its growth on an international scale.

Finding Lessons, Courts and Community

To start playing pickleball, individuals can find local courts by searching online or using mobile apps. Many community centers, YMCAs, and parks offer pickleball lessons for beginners.

It's also common for players to join local pickleball clubs or groups to connect with the community and participate in organized games and events. Additionally, there are various associations and federations that provide information on finding instructors, tournaments, and other opportunities to engage with the sport at different skill levels.

Players interested in learning more about pickleball can visit websites of national or international organizations like the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA), which provides a comprehensive directory of places offering lessons.

Health Benefits of Pickleball

Playing pickleball provides numerous health benefits, including burning calories and improving memory. It's a great way to stay active and enjoy the game while reaping these physical and mental advantages.

Burning Calories

Playing pickleball is an effective way to burn calories as it involves constant movement, agility, and coordination. A typical 60-minute game can help a person burn between 300-500 calories, making it a great option for those looking to stay active while having fun.

The combination of short sprints, lateral movements, and quick reflexes during play can significantly contribute to increasing the heart rate and maximizing caloric expenditure.

Pickleball's fast-paced nature not only provides an enjoyable workout but also helps in improving cardiovascular health. This low-impact sport is suitable for people of all fitness levels who want to engage in physical activity that benefits overall wellness.

Improving Memory

After burning calories through a game of pickleball, another significant benefit is its potential to improve memory. Engaging in physical activities like pickleball can stimulate the production of new brain cells and increase connections between them.

Notably, playing pickleball has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. The Mayo Clinic also links this cognitive benefit to mood-boosting neurochemicals released during and after playing pickleball, further contributing to improved memory and overall mental well-being.

The cognitive benefits extend beyond just memory improvement – quick thinking, hand-eye coordination, and cognitive flexibility are all positively impacted by actively participating in a game of pickleball.


In conclusion, pickleball is a dynamic paddle sport that has experienced rapid growth in recent years. The game's unique combination of elements from tennis, badminton, and table tennis makes it an appealing choice for people of all ages and skill levels.

With its accessible court size, straightforward rules, and health benefits, pickleball presents an enjoyable way to stay active and socialize within the community. Whether played competitively or recreationally, pickleball continues to gain popularity worldwide as a fun and engaging sport.


1. What is pickleball and how do you play it?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. You use paddles to hit a plastic ball, similar to a wiffle ball, over a net.

2. Where can you play pickleball?

You can play pickleball on modified badminton courts or basketball courts with the nets set at the same height as for badminton.

3. Are there any special rules in pickleball for serving?

Yes, when serving in pickleball you must hit an underhand serve that goes diagonally crosscourt without touching out-of-bounds areas including the non-volley zone.

4. Can anybody play pickleball? Is it suitable for people in wheelchairs?

Absolutely! Pickleball is for everyone—there's even adaptive or wheelchair pickleball with some adjusted rules to make it accessible.

5. What equipment do I need to start playing pickleball?

To get started with pickleball, all you need are a solid paddle made from materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber, durable balls designed specifically for the game called 'pickleballs,' comfortable soles on your shoes; optionally add eye protection.

6. Are there official competitions or tournaments for PickleBall players?

Indeed! There are organized international competitions such as Bainbridge Cup and World PickleBall Games where players compete globally; events like World PickleBall Day celebrate this growing sport.

This content was first published by KISS PR Brand Story. Read here >> What is Pickleball? A Beginner's Guide to the Popular Paddle Sport

Source: Story.KISSPR.com
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