If you’re looking for an enjoyable and competitive method to stay active, try pickleball. It’s the fastest-growing sport in America, and players understand why! This game is a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, and it’s designed for all skill levels. It’s easy to learn, inexpensive and a great way to socialize with others. In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about pickleball. We’ll review the history, where it’s going, why it’s popular, what it does for you and how to play.
The History of Pickleball
The origins of pickleball go back to the summer of 1965, on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Joel Pritchard, a congressional representative, and Bill Bell, a business executive, wanted to find a new, exciting game for their families to play. They came up with a game—a mix between badminton, tennis and ping-pong—using a perforated plastic ball and lightweight, solid paddles. They started playing the game on a badminton court on their property, and it quickly became popular with their families and friends.
The game didn’t have a name, but the Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, kept running around the court and stealing the ball, which gave the game its unusual name: pickleball. The name stuck and the game became an instant hit.
Pickleball quickly spread down the West Coast of the United States, gaining popularity in local YMCAs and community centers. By the 1970s, the sport had increased in popularity and the first national tournament was held in 1976 in Seattle, Washington. The sport had a significant boom in the 1980s and 1990s, spreading eastward and getting international recognition.
Today, pickleball is played all over the world, with millions of players of all ages and capabilities. It’s especially popular with older players as it’s a low-impact game. But it’s also played by many younger players, who find the game challenging and fun. Pickleball is played in over 6,200 locations worldwide.
The Growing Popularity of Pickleball
If you haven’t heard of pickleball yet, you’re missing out! While it may sound like a children’s game, pickleball has become a smashing success at athletic clubs, with players of all ages and skill levels jumping on the bandwagon. Here are four reasons it is growing in popularity—worldwide!
1. Easy to Learn, but Challenging to Master
One of the reasons pickleball has become so popular is its accessibility. It’s a relatively simple game to learn, especially for those who have played other racket sports like tennis or badminton. However, once players get the hang of it, they quickly realize there’s much more to the game. Pickleball requires strategy and quick reflexes, making it challenging for even the most skilled athletes. This balance between accessibility and challenge is what makes pickleball so appealing to so many people.
2. Social and Interactive
Besides being a great workout, pickleball is also a social game. It’s typically played in doubles or mixed-doubles format, which encourages interaction and teamwork between players. Plus, because the ball is slower-moving than in tennis, there’s more time for players to chat and socialize. This social aspect, combined with the fast-paced gameplay, creates a fun and engaging atmosphere.
3. Low-Impact and Injury-Resistant
Playing sports can be tough on the body, especially as we age. But pickleball is a relatively low-impact sport, with less running and jumping than other racket sports. The sport’s rules and equipment encourage players to avoid high-impact shots and moves, making it less injury-prone than sports like basketball or soccer. For those looking to stay active without putting too much strain on their bodies, pickleball is an excellent option.
4. Inclusive and Adaptable
One of the biggest reasons pickleball has taken off is its inclusivity. Everyone can play the game, regardless of age, size or ability. The court can be adjusted in size to accommodate players with mobility limitations, and the slower-moving ball makes the game accessible to those with slower reflexes. This adaptability has made pickleball a popular choice for senior athletes, but it’s gaining traction among younger players as well.
The Health Benefits of Pickleball
Pickleball is quickly gaining popularity among people of all ages and for good reason. Not only is it a fun and social way to stay active, but it also boasts several health benefits. Since pickleball is a low-impact sport, it is easy on the joints, which makes it a superb choice for people who are recovering from injuries or have arthritis. Additionally, pickleball is a great cardio workout to keep your heart healthy and improve overall fitness. It also requires quick and agile movements, which can improve balance and coordination. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why pickleball enthusiasts can’t get enough of this exciting new sport.
How to Play Pickleball
Players can form two teams two for a typical game of pickleball or play singles games. In doubles play, each team must hit the ball back and forth over the net, following the rules outlined above and attempt to score points. The first team to reach 11 (in a typical game) or 15 (in tournament play) points, while leading by a margin of two points, wins the game.
Let’s start with serving. In pickleball, players must serve the ball underhand and hit below the server’s waist. The serve is only valid if the ball clears the net and lands in the court diagonally opposite the server. If the serve hits the net and lands on the court, the server replays it without penalty.
Pickleball games are usually played to 11 points, and the winning team must lead by at least two points. Only the serving team can score a point, and players must win a game with a difference of two points (12-10, 13-11, etc.). In tournament play, games may be played to 15, 21, or 25 points, depending on the event.
Playing the Ball
When playing the ball, there are a few rules to keep in mind. Players must let the ball bounce once on each side of the net before they can volley. This is called the “double bounce rule” and helps to keep non-volley-zone (NVZ) play under control. Players are not allowed to step into the NVZ and hit volleys unless the ball first bounces in the NVZ or is hit by an opponent.
There are several common faults to watch for when playing pickleball, including stepping into the NVZ when hitting a volley (as mentioned above), hitting the ball out of bounds, hitting the ball into the net, and not serving the ball correctly (hitting above the waist, for example). If any of these faults occur, the opposing team receives a point.
Visit Wellbridge Athletic Club Today and Get Playing!
If you’re looking to get into pickleball and find a court near you, look no further than a Wellbridge Athletic Club. Not only can you play pickleball, but we offer a plethora of amenities, programs and more. So why wait? Gather your friends and head down to the court today. Bring plenty of energy and join hundreds of others playing their hearts out! To get started on your pickleball journey, contact one of the Wellbridge family of athletic clubs today.