What Is Pickleball?

What is pickleball? Why is it everywhere all of a sudden? Pickleball is a paddle sport with some similarities to tennis. The court is 20 by 44 feet with a net in the middle. 

A pickleball court diagram.

 With a unique combination of elements from tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, pickleball is an exciting and accessible sport for players of all ages and skill levels. In this blog post, we'll dive into the game of pickleball, its rules, and the key strategies to help you become a proficient player. Let's get started with the basics!

Pickleball Game Overview

Pickleball is typically played on a rectangular court, similar in size to a badminton court, with a low net spanning the middle. The game can be enjoyed as singles or doubles and is played with a special pickleball, which is similar in size and shape to a wiffle ball but slightly more resilient.

Key Elements of Pickleball:

  • Pickleball Court: The court is 20 feet wide by 44 feet long for doubles and 20 feet wide by 22 feet long for singles, divided into two service areas on each side.
  • Paddle: Pickleball paddles are typically made of wood, composite materials, or a combination of both. They are solid and have no strings, making them perfect for quick reactions.
  • Net: The net is 36 inches high at the sidelines and 34 inches high in the center.

Game Rules

Pickleball has straightforward rules that make it accessible for beginners and provide a fun and competitive environment for experienced players. Here's a summary of the key rules:
  • Serving: The server must serve underhanded, diagonally, starting from the right-hand side. The serve must clear the non-volley zone (the "kitchen") and land in the opponent's service box.
  • Scoring: Pickleball uses a rally scoring system, meaning a point can be won on any serve. Games are typically played to 11 points, but you must win by at least two points.
  • Non-Volley Zone: Within seven feet of the net on each side, there's a non-volley zone, often referred to as "the kitchen." Players can't volley the ball (hit it in the air) while standing in this zone.
  • Double Bounce Rule: After the serve, each team must allow the ball to bounce once on each side before volleying. This rule promotes longer rallies and strategic play.
  • Faults: Common faults include stepping into the non-volley zone during a volley, hitting the ball out of bounds, and serving faults (such as stepping on or over the baseline).
  • Sideline and Baseline Rules: The ball is considered in if it lands on the lines. If a serve hits the net and lands in the correct service box, it's considered a "let" and can be retaken.

Strategies and Tips

Becoming a skilled pickleball player requires a combination of technique, strategy, and court awareness. Here are some key strategies to keep in mind:
  • Dinking: Master the art of dinking, which involves soft, controlled shots near the net. This strategy forces your opponent to make mistakes or hit the ball into the net.
  • Lobbing: Use lobs strategically to keep your opponents off balance. A well-placed lob can help you gain control of the net.
  • Placement: Focus on ball placement. Hitting the ball to the corners or aiming for the opponent's weaker side can give you a significant advantage.
  • Team Communication: In doubles, effective communication with your partner is crucial. Call out shots, make clear decisions on who will take which ball, and coordinate your movements.
  • Stay at the Kitchen: While you can't volley from the kitchen, being close to the net allows you to control the game better. Be prepared to move quickly and take advantage of any short, high balls.

Autoimmune Diseases & Pickleball

(This is not medical advice. Please consult your doctor before playing.)
In addition to the sheer enjoyment of playing pickleball, the sport offers numerous therapeutic benefits, making it an excellent choice for individuals dealing with autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, can bring physical and emotional challenges. However, pickleball provides a supportive environment for those dealing with these conditions. The game's low-impact nature is gentle on joints and muscles, reducing the risk of flare-ups and injuries. Moreover, the social aspect of pickleball can be profoundly therapeutic. Engaging in regular play fosters a sense of community, reduces stress, and helps combat the feelings of isolation often experienced by those with autoimmune diseases. Additionally, the focus required in pickleball can provide mental stimulation and a sense of purpose, contributing to improved overall well-being. These therapeutic benefits underscore the inclusive and adaptable nature of pickleball, making it an ideal choice for individuals with autoimmune diseases seeking a fun and health-promoting physical activity.
Pickleball is a dynamic and engaging sport that's perfect for players of all ages. With a simple set of rules and a mix of strategy and skill, it's a sport that's easy to pick up and enjoy. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, mastering the game of pickleball is a rewarding and fun endeavor. So, grab your paddle, find a court, and get ready to experience the excitement of this fantastic sport!