WHAT IS PICKLEBALL?

The Basics

Imagine a collision of tennis, badminton and Ping Pong (or table tennis). Imagine a sport that’s apparently named after a dog. Imagine a sport in which a key area of the court is known as 'The Kitchen'. You're thinking of pickleball, which contains elements of all the sports above, with a badminton-sized court, a tennis-style net, and paddles similar to table tennis bats. It's simple to pick up and can be very addictive, which is why pickleball enthusiasts - who call themselves 'picklers' - can't stop 'pickling'. The more you play and improve, you less chance you'll have of being 'pickled', which is losing a game.

 

What are the rules of pickleball? 

Whether you're playing singles or doubles, every point starts with an underarm serve that is hit diagonally. There's a two bounces rule. That means that the returning player or team must allow the serve to bounce, and the serving player or team must allow the return to bounce. After that, you can play volleys, although not when you're standing in the non-volley zone close to the net, which is known amongst picklers as 'The Kitchen'. You commit a fault if you hit the ball into the net or it lands outside the court, or if you miss the ball completely.

The History of Pickleball

You’ll be wondering why it’s called pickleball. Nothing to do with pickling vegetables. Pickleball was invented by three friends in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, which is a ferry ride from Seattle, in Washington State in America. The three men, one of whom was Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard, wanted to create a game that would entertain bored kids, and that the whole family could play together. The story goes that a family dog, Pickle, kept chasing after the ball and taking it into the bushes. That was "Pickle's ball". The sport then became known as 'pickleball'. 

There's an alternative version of pickleball's history which suggests that the name was inspired by a rowing term, 'pickle boat'. That's a boat made up of spare or borrowed oarsmen from other crews. Pritchard’s wife, Joan, who was a competitive rower, thought that 'pickleball' was an appropriate name because the game borrowed from other sports.

 

The Pickleball Ball

It's hard, hollow and has holes in it. There are different kinds for when you're playing indoor and outdoor. 

The Paddle

HEAD offers a selection of paddles to suit a range of abilities, from beginners to advanced players, that will give you the feel, control and power you need to enjoy pickleball. 

The Pickleball Court

The court is the same size for singles and doubles. It's rectangular, measuring 44 feet long and 6.10 feet wide. The net should be 36 inches at either end, and a little lower in the middle, at 34 inches. 

The Scoring

The first player or team to 11 points wins, but you have to be ahead by at least two points. You can only score points when you or your team are serving. The first server in a team continues serving until they make a mistake or fault, and then the second server in the team serves until they make a mistake. Then the other team gets to serve. When you’re calling the score, you say the server’s score first, then the receiver’s score and if you’re playing doubles, you then say either one or two depending on which server is starting the point.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Pickleball:

 

Is pickleball easier to play than tennis?

Pickleball is probably easier for beginners to learn than tennis. Pickleball is played on a smaller court, the ball is slower, and you must serve underarm. It's a great sport for mature adults. Three generations of a family can play together, with children joining in with parents and grandparents. Just like tennis, you'll learn more advanced techniques and strategies the more you play.

What is a dink in pickleball? 

This is one of the most effective shots in pickleball. It's a soft shot that just clears the net and lands in 'The Kitchen' on your opponent's side of the net. You want the ball to stay low after bouncing, making it difficult for them to hit up over the net. Your opponent might respond by playing a dink of their own, and you might then want to hit another dink. If you stay patient and keep playing dinks, your opponent will probably end up making a mistake in the net. Or they might hit the ball too high, and then you'll have the chance to hit a hard, aggressive shot. 

 

Can you hit a smash in pickleball? 

Yes, you can hit a smash or overhead, just make sure you're not inside the non-volley zone or 'The Kitchen' when you play that shot.

Where is pickleball most popular?   

Pickleball is most popular where it started – in the United States. There are more than 3 million players in America, and it's said to be one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. The New York Times reported that picklers have been very active during the coronavirus pandemic, as it's an ideal sport in the age of social distancing.

 

What do you wear when playing pickleball? 

For ultimate performance, comfort and enjoyment, wear HEAD's pickleball shoes. Engineered with innovative technologies and premium materials, HEAD footwear gives you the support, stability, cushioning and lightweight comfort that you're looking for. Wearing a HEAD pickleball glove will enhance your grip on the paddle’s handle, and some picklers like to wear HEAD eyewear. You can also show your love for the sport in one of HEAD's pickleball T-shirts and by organising your paddle, balls and the rest of your kit in a HEAD pickleball bag.