Our niche can be defined as racquet and paddle sports. We like to say if there is a racquet involved then we are game. Of the sports we provide equipment for, pickleball, tennis, racquetball, and squash, it is pickle ball that has seen extraordinary growth in the last couple of years.
Here is a fun fact, it was originally named Pickle's Ball. The game was first played in 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Washington. Legend has it that the Washington state representative named Joel Pritchard, and two friends, invented the game. By lowering their badminton net, using a whiffle ball, and creating some wood paddles, they had invented the pickleball equipment and played what is now known as “Pickleball”.
If you are new to Pickleball and wondering what it is all about, do not be distracted by the fact that the court is smaller than a tennis court, or that the ball is a smaller version of a wiffle ball, it is an amazing sport. One of the advantages of the smaller court size and wiffle ball is that you can play at any pace. There are now many highly competitive Pickle ball matches as well if you prefer a faster more competitive pace. However you can also play at a much slower and relaxed pace and still have just as much fun all while exercising. This truly is a game that is fun for all ages, and not just a cliche.
The sport has a governing organization known as the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). The organization does an excellent job providing the official rules, tournaments, rankings, and more.
The USA Pickleball Association uses the same rules as the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) which was created to advance the sport through the world. You can download a PDF file of the rules here. This is a 67 page PDF from the International Federation of Pickleball. The rule book is free and covers everything you need to know to play.
First let us start with the court itself. Take a look at the image on the right.
The pickle ball court looks similar to tennis and is the same dimensions as a badminton court. Unlike tennis, whether you play singles or doubles, the pickle ball court is the same size, 44 feet by 20 feet.
You can actually fit four Pickleball courts on one tennis court. The net itself is 36 inches high on the ends and 34 inches in the middle. Next to the net, on both sides, is a 7 foot non-volley zone.
Behind each of the non volley zones are two service courts both 15 feet long and 10 feet wide. There is a center line between them. Behind the service area is the baseline.
Game On !
You start with a coin flip, winner of the flip chooses to serve first or not. When serving you stand behind the baseline and serve underhanded. You serve diagonally to the opponent’s service court. The ball must land in the opponents service court area. If you commit a fault, in doubles, then your partner can serve until they commit a fault then you lose service. In a singles game once you commit a fault you lose service. You also alternate serving sides in a singles game.
After a ball is served each side must let it bounce before striking the ball. This is the two bounce rule. After that both sides can play the ball in the air or after a bounce. Points Only the team that served can score a point. Here is how. If you served the ball and your opponent fails to either hit the ball back, does not clear the net, hits the ball out of bounds, volleys from the non-volley zone, or volleyed before a bounce occurs on each side then you score a point. Regarding the non volley zone, you can enter it to play a ball that bounces but you cannot enter it to play a ball in the air.
How to Win
If you score 11 points you win, as long as you are leading by at least two points. Tournament play is typical the best of 3 games.
You can play indoors or outdoors. To play you need a the following pickle ball equipment: a court, pickleball net, pickleball paddles and pickleballs. It really is that easy to get started.
What is a Pickleball paddle and what are they made of?
The paddle is solid unlike a tennis racquet that has strings. It must be rigid and non-compressible so it does not have a trampoline type effect. One big difference among paddles is the weight which depends on the material of the paddle itself. For example a wood paddle will usually weigh more than a lighter graphite paddle.
There are essentially three choices:
• Composite - typically fiberglass, aluminum, vinyl, or laminate paddle will be a "Composite" paddles material
• Graphite - a graphite paddle is usually the lightest
• Wood - a wood paddle is typically the heaviest, these are durable but can be twice as heavy as a graphite paddle
What is a Pickleball ball?
A Pickleball ball (tongue twister to save 5 times in a row) is much like a whiffle ball only smaller. It must have holes. The main differences are the size of the holes and color. You often see the larger hole balls used for indoor use and the smaller hole balls used outdoors.
That is a short version of the background, rules and pickleball equipment needed to get started. Enjoy !