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What is Pickleball?

Updated on November 17, 2015
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I enjoy painting fantasy art, art shows, creating delicious dishes, spending time with my grandkids, taking walks and reading a good book.

What is Pickleball?

I recently learned how to play Pickleball and found it to be lots of fun. Okay, some of you may ask "What is Pickleball"? It is a fast-growing energetic game for people of all ages. Pickleball is basically a cross between tennis and ping pong with its own set of rules and equipment. It can be played by people of all ages and skills; all you need is the best Pickleball equipment that you can buy.

If you are interested in learning how to play, then take a look at this article on how to play Pickleball and what types of equipment you will need. I will share the basics of how to play the game as I learned it. I learned to play this sport with the retired folks at the adult community I work for. We use inexpensive, basic equipment at my retirement community so everyone can try out the game before investing in expensive paddles and balls.

Besides a good paddle and ball, you will need a portable net and a rule book to get started. If you have courts that are designed for Pickleball, then you are one of the lucky communities. Most cities and communities do not have courts, but don't let that slow you down in playing this fun game. All you need is a tennis court, basketball court or large parking lot to layout a court to play with friends. Plus you will want to find a court diagram from the internet , purchase a roll of masking tape and borrow a portable net.

Pickleball is usually played outdoors, but is a game that can also be played indoors. There are many communities around the country that set up a court in the school gymnasium or community auditorium. My southwest community plays indoors during the summer to get out of the heat.

Photo from

The Art of Pickleball: Techniques and Strategies for Everyone
The Art of Pickleball: Techniques and Strategies for Everyone

A must have book when taking up the game of Pickleball. It is easy to follow, clear and easy to follow when learning to play this fun sport. Everything is covered in this handbook.


Pickleball - How it Began

A bit of history and a dog named "Pickle"

History says that Pickleball was thought up by a senator from the state of Washington. In 1965 his family and a friend's family were sitting around with nothing to do, when they decided to make up a game with the old badminton court on their property. The senator made wood paddles instead of using the light badminton rackets and lowered the net.

The key was the ball. They used an old Whiffle ball that was owned by their dog. Every time the ball would be missed or roll into the bushes, their dog would run or chase his ball and steal it away. Well, why not, it was "Pickle's ball" after all!

Over time the game caught on, and grew to the recognized sport that it is today. I recommend finding more information on the USA Pickleball Association website. It is a complete and informative site covering everything about Pickleball.

Pickle-Ball, Inc. Pickleball Diller Tournament Net Set (Set Includes Metal Frame + Net + 4 paddles + 4 balls + Rules Sheet in Carry Bag)
Pickle-Ball, Inc. Pickleball Diller Tournament Net Set (Set Includes Metal Frame + Net + 4 paddles + 4 balls + Rules Sheet in Carry Bag)

A great portable starter set that comes with all the items you need to start up a Pickleball game in your community or neighborhood. Paddles and balls included. A great deal for the price!


Basic Equipment Needed to Get Started

There are a few basic items needed to get you started to play this fun and energetic game:

  • An Open Space to Play
  • A Portable Net
  • A Special Paddle
  • A Few Special Balls
  • A List of Basic Rules
  • A Good Pair of Tennis Shoes
  • Plenty of Water to Drink
  • A Partner to Play With!

Once you learn to play, you can add to this list or replace some basic items with more professional ones. What you will find is that this fun sport is addicting!

What is the Best Paddle?

Select between graphite, wood and aluminum materials.

I found with learning how to play Pickleball with a variety of friends and their friends is that there is also a wide variety of paddles to select from. There are several types of materials used to make this special paddle. The basic one is made of wood which is a bit heavier and the professionals use either graphite or aluminum which is lightweight.

We use basic wood paddles that are cheap and a great paddle for beginners to start out with. If you have at a teen center where the paddles would get heavy use, then this type of paddle is a good choice as well. Once you pick up the game, which will be fairly quickly, then you will want your own special paddle that fits your personality and weight preference.

I personally like the lightweight paddle such as the Champion aluminum paddle because I don't have as much strength as my male friends who play. Also some of them play tournament level and really need a paddle that will take the heavy play and slam dunks. This is the most fun part of buying equipment since pickleball paddles come in such a huge selection of colors and designs.

Master Net Set (SET)
Master Net Set (SET)

This is a great starter paddle for beginners. The perfect set for starting a game at a recreational center for youth or seniors.


How to Select a Ball

You cannot have the game of pickleball without the ball. The balls are designed very similar to a wiffle ball with air holes in the plastic ball for flight. The plastic, however, used in a pickleball ball is stronger and more durable than just picking up a wiffle ball to use with a pickleball paddle. Believe me, that poor wiffle ball will not hold up. I have seen the strongest Dura Pickleball Ball take a beating with some of the tournament players who love to "slam" the ball.

There is a lighter JUGS ball that is recommended for indoor use or for beginners. It does not fly as fast and far, but also from personal experience does not hold up with experienced, hard hitting players. Those who love to slam the ball will break these balls quicker than you can imagine. Dura Big Hole is a little heavier and thicker, but still has the bigger holes to slow down the play for beginners and indoor use.

Pickleball Court
Pickleball Court

How to Play Pickleball

Or, how I learned to play the game!

This past summer, I had a great time learning to play Pickleball with friends at work. I happen to be an Activity Director for an Over 55 Community and the Pickleball club moved into our Auditorium during the hot summer months. It was a great opportunity to learn the game during the off-season with a small group. The pace was slower and the experienced players took the time to teach a group of us the basics of the game.

This is what I learned so far about the game:

1. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, preferably supportive gym shoes since there is still a bit of running or chasing the ball when you miss it!

2. We warmed up with 5 minutes of practice before trying to keep score.

3. I learned to play doubles, but there are rules for singles players too.

4. The serve is always underhanded and must be served to the player opposite your partner; for example, if you are serving from the right square (court area), you serve to the player on the right on the other side.

5. I did not learn how to set up the court area, but directions and dimensions can be found on

6. The ball must bounce once on the first serve, then you can volley back and forth without bouncing until it goes out of bounds.

7. Keeping points was the most difficult for me to learn. You win a point if the ball is hit out of bounds by the other time when it was your serve.

8. Both players get to serve before the serve is lost to the other team. The server will call out the score which includes either 1 for first server or 2 for second server. It will sound something like this: 2-4-5 which is 2nd server, your score of 4 and their score of 5.

9. I found that really communicating with your partner as to who will go after the ball at each volley. There were times the ball would just drop between us and each would be polite to wait for our partner to go after the ball. It was actually very funny, but not to the serious player.

10. I found playing Pickleball lots of fun and great exercise.

As you can see by my notes that I am a real beginner, and need more practice to learn more about the game. I recommend reading a basic book on how to play the game to get you familiar with the rules of the game.

Introduction to Pickleball - Tips to Get Started

A good basic video introducing you to the basics of Pickleball and how to play. Doubles is a lot more fun to play, but lots of players like to play singles also. As you can see, Pickleball is a cross between tennis and ping pong.


What is Your Favorite Team Sport?

Do you play either Tennis, Badminton or Pickleball? Maybe it is another type of team sport? Let us know which game you prefer or if you play all three sports. If you don't play any of these sports, then let us know that too.

Which is your favorite sport of tennis, badmitton or pickleball?

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Have you Played Pickleball?

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    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Not only have I never played Pickleball but I had never heard of it until reading this lens. I loved the story of how it got its name. What fun! I think I would enjoy playing Pickleball. Thanks for the introduction.