In the tennis off-season, many tennis lovers look for fun ways to keep their skills fresh. One of the most popular games in recent times is pickleball, a time-honored paddle sport classic that blends elements of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. As popularity expands across the nation, many players want to know more about pickleball, including how to play and where to play. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of pickleball, giving you the knowledge to get started on this exciting and fun sport.
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a paddle-based sport that combines elements of several other racquet sports, including tennis and badminton. It can be played indoors or out on a badminton-sized court. A modified tennis net separates the two sides of the court, and the game can be played in singles or doubles format, just like tennis.
Instead of a racquet, pickleball is played with a paddle somewhat like a larger ping-pong paddle. The ball itself is similar to a “wiffle ball”; it is a plastic ball with numerous holes. It was created in 1965 by three men whose children had grown tired of summertime activities and wanted something new. Few can agree on how the game got its name – the important thing to know is that since its humble origins, the game has spread to countries around the world.
What Does a Pickleball Court Look Like?
In pickleball, the court is the same size as a doubles badminton court, measuring 20 feet by 44 feet. The same court configuration is used for both doubles and singles play. As mentioned earlier, a modified tennis net is used to separate the two sides of the court. This net is 36 inches high at the sidelines and 34 inches at the center of the court. Striping and layout of the court is very similar to a tennis court, with right and left service areas on each side. A seven-foot non-volley zone can be found in front of each side of the net. This is referred to as “the kitchen” in pickleball parlance. A tennis court can be quickly modified to suit the sport, or dedicated courts for pickleball can be constructed.
What Equipment is Needed to Play Pickleball?
Other than a court, pickleball players need a pickleball paddle and a special pickleball. The paddle is smaller in dimensions and shorter than a traditional tennis racquet and is larger than a ping-pong paddle. Just like today’s tennis racquets, pickleball paddles evolved from handmade wooden affairs in the early days to modern marvels of graphite and aluminum. The ball is a plastic all with holes molded into it, much like a wiffle ball. Indoor balls have larger holes than their outdoor counterparts and are designed to move rather slowly through the air. The balls range from 73mm in diameter to a maximum of 75.5mm, according to rules established by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP).
Where Can I Play Pickleball?
The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) sponsors pickleball tournaments across the country. International play is also possible, thanks to the efforts of the IFP and other national organizations. In the U.S. alone, the USAPA website lists over 6000 known locations where pickleball is played. Use the website’s search feature to locate a court near you, and get started playing this fun and entertaining new sport that will help keep your court skills fresh in the off-season.
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