UNITED STATES—Although sports basketball and football are beloved by millions of Americans, and baseball is still often referred to as America’s number one pastime, since it was first played back in 1969, pickleball has quickly taken the world of sports by storm. 

And for such a considerably newer sport, it’s giving all other sports a run for their money. 

In the following article, we’re going to be taking an up-close-and-personal look at pickleball, the extremely fun, fast-paced solo or duo sport, why it has gained so much traction in recent years, and how you can find a league or tournament to get yourself started with the sport.

What Is Pickleball?

Essentially, pickleball is a combination of a few different racquet sports, namely tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Similar to these already popular sports, pickleball is played by either 2 or 4 players on each side, who rally a perforated polymer ball back and forth over a net. 

The earliest mention of the sport of pickleball dates back to the year 1969. 

Its invention is attributed to Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, And Barney McCallum, a trio of suburban dads who lived in Bainbridge Island, Washington, who were looking for a new and innovative way to get their families outside and keep them occupied during the summer. 

As the legend goes, Pritchard, Bell, And McCallum came home from playing golf one day to find their kids bored at home. The men tried to set up a game of badminton, however, were unable to find the racquets or shuttlecock. 

But instead of giving up, the men improvised with what they had by lowering the net, building a couple of makeshift paddles from plywood scraps they had laying around, and using a perforated ball. 

It took a bit of time to work out the rules, but it was all worked out, the sport was an instant hit amongst the families!

A few years later, in 1972, McCallum launched Pickle-Ball Inc, which continues to manufacture wooden paddles and pickleball sporting equipment to this day. 

Although the sport was invented as a game for children some 60 years ago, today, pickleball has exploded in popularity amongst sports lovers all around the world. 

In fact, it’s estimated that there are some 3 million pickleball players in the United States alone. And that number is only expected to rise in the coming years. 

The Rules Of Pickleball

As mentioned, pickleball is similar to a few other racquet sports, which includes a similar court layout to badminton, as well as many rules that were modified from tennis. 

Unlike badminton, for both singles and doubles pickleball matches, the size of the court measures 20 feet by 44 feet, which is similar to the size of a doubles badminton court. 

In pickleball, however, one of the biggest layout distinctions from a badminton court is that the “non-volley zone” is about 7 feet further away from the net. 

To start a match, the pickleball is served with an underarm stroke to the side of the court diagonal opposite the server. During play, only the serving side is capable of scoring. Play is stopped for a single point any time a player commits a fault. 

To win, one side must score 11 points, leading by at least two. 

In the event of a 10 point tie between both sides, the first side to advance by two points wins. 

Like many other sports, there is a standardized rating system for categorizing pickleball players into distinct skill categories. This ranges from 1.0 to 5.0, where players with higher scores (4.0+) are considered good enough to play in regional, state, and even national competitions. 

If you want to know more about the rules and court dimensions of the sport, make sure to check out PickleballGuide.

Where To Play Pickleball

Due to the sport’s rise in popularity in recent decades, it’s increasingly common to find communities in California and across the United States hosting pickleball games, leagues, competitions, and championships. 

For instance, once a year, the USA Pickleball Association hosts about 10 regional tournaments across the country, which draws in teams and players from every state to prove their skills on the pickleball court. 

Elsewhere, pickleball is becoming increasingly popular in schools, as it’s a simple, fun, and engaging sport for kids. 

But it’s also exploded in popularity amongst senior citizen communities and in retirement homes. 

This is because, unlike tennis, pickleball is played in an underhand manner, which means it puts less strain on the shoulders and arm joints. 

Finally, even though the game can be played at a faster pace, it can still be a fun, challenging, competitive and rewarding sport when played at slower speeds. 

In turn, this makes pickleball ideal for older adults, younger children, and anybody else looking to get outside and have some fun with some friends!