If you're looking for a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, all while fostering a spirit of camaraderie, look no further than pickleball. It's the fastest-growing sport in America, and for a good reason – it's easy to learn, offers a fantastic workout, and is just plain fun. In this beginner's guide, we'll dive into the basics of pickleball and get you started on your journey to becoming a dinking and smashing expert.
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a racquet sport that was invented in the 1960s. It's played on a court that's about a third the size of a tennis court, with a net lowered to just 34 inches at the center. The game is typically played as doubles, though singles play is also popular. The equipment used includes a solid paddle and a perforated plastic ball – similar to a Wiffle ball but slightly smaller.
The Rules of Pickleball
The Serve: The game begins with an underhand serve, diagonally cross-court. The serve must clear the net and land in the opponent's service court.
The Volley: After the serve, both teams volley (hit the ball in the air) until the ball bounces on each side once. Once it has bounced, you can also volley.
The Non-Volley Zone: There's a 7-foot non-volley zone on each side of the net. You can't volley the ball from inside this area unless the ball bounces in it first.
Scoring: Pickleball uses a unique scoring system. You can only score points when your team is serving. You need 11 points to win, but you must win by at least 2 points.
Pickleball is accessible for all ages and skill levels. It's a game of strategy, finesse, and agility, rather than sheer power. Here are some tips for beginners:
Practice Your Serve: A well-placed serve can set the tone for the entire rally. Focus on consistency and accuracy.
Master the Dink: A dink is a soft shot that clears the net and lands just over the non-volley zone. It's a strategic shot that can keep your opponents on their toes.
Move Your Feet: Pickleball is as much about positioning as it is about hitting the ball. Move quickly to get into the best possible position for each shot.
Communicate: In doubles, communication is key. Coordinate with your partner to cover the court effectively.
To start playing pickleball, all you need is access to a court, a paddle, and a ball. Many community centers, parks, and gyms offer pickleball facilities. If you're a beginner, consider taking a lesson or playing with more experienced players to pick up the basics.
Pickleball is a sport that's easy to learn but challenging to master, making it an excellent choice for people of all ages. So grab a paddle, hit the court, and get ready to have a smashing good time!