How to Play Pickleball for Beginners: A Quickstart Guide 

Congratulations on deciding to give pickleball a try! This fun and engaging sport is an excellent way to stay active, socialize, and learn new skills. As a beginner, especially if you haven’t played sports before, you might feel overwhelmed or unsure about where to start. Pickleball Rookie has helped many people get started; we’re happy to share advice to help you begin your pickleball journey.

A Primer on How to Play Pickleball for the First Time

Learn the basics. Before stepping onto the court, familiarize yourself with the basic rules, equipment, and pickleball terminology. Watch videos, read articles, or join a beginner’s class to help you better understand the sport. The more you know, the more confident you will feel. Reading this article is a great start!

Wear appropriate gear. Invest in a good pair of athletic shoes designed for court sports, such as pickleball, tennis or badminton shoes–they are all similar. The kicks will provide the necessary support and grip for the quick lateral movements you’ll be making on the court. Comfortable, breathable athletic clothing will also help you stay cool and move freely during play.

Warm-up and stretch. Warming up and stretching before playing pickleball is crucial for preventing injuries and ensuring your body is ready for the game’s physical demands. Spend 5-10 minutes jogging or performing dynamic stretches to get your heart rate up and increase blood flow to your muscles. Check out the end of this article for a few great beginner pickleball stretches.

Focus on technique. This includes maintaining a balanced stance, gripping the paddle correctly, and using the right footwork. Concentrate on getting the fundamentals right, and you’ll see improvements in your game over time. A huge beginner mistake is stepping onto the court and smashing the pickleball, a tactic that is not effective against skilled players.

Be patient with yourself. Learning any new sport can be challenging, and pickleball is no exception. Remember that it’s normal to make mistakes. Even if you don’t see immediate progress, keep practicing, and you’ll gradually become more comfortable and skilled on the court. One of the most beautiful things about pickleball is that it’s hard to suck at, as long as you’re playing with the right people. 

Find a supportive community. Playing with people who share your enthusiasm for pickleball can make the experience more enjoyable and help you improve faster. Look for local pickleball clubs or meetups, and don’t be shy about asking questions or seeking advice from more experienced players. They’ll likely be more than happy to help you learn and grow.

Play at your own pace. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with more experienced players or play at a level beyond your current abilities. Focus on playing at your own pace, and gradually increase the intensity and competitiveness of your games as you become more comfortable and skilled.

Prioritize fun and enjoyment. While it’s natural to want to improve and be competitive, don’t forget that the primary goal of playing pickleball should be to have fun. Enjoy the camaraderie, the physical activity, and the process of learning something new. Keeping a positive attitude will make your experience more enjoyable and motivate you to continue playing.

Stay safe and hydrated. Be mindful of your body’s needs and limitations. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after play, and take breaks when needed. If you feel any pain or discomfort while playing, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional to prevent further injury. Pickleball is relatively safe, but all sports come with the risk of injury. Actually, simply living comes with the risk of injury.

Set realistic goals. Setting achievable goals can help keep you motivated and provide a sense of accomplishment as you progress. Break your goals down into smaller, manageable steps, and celebrate your successes along the way.

The key to enjoying pickleball and improving your skills is to be patient, focus on the fundamentals, and surround yourself with a supportive community. Remember to prioritize fun, stay safe, and celebrate your progress. 

We recently had a reader write us to tell Pickleball Rookie about her first time playing pickleball. Since her story is so common, we wanted to share it as a bit of motivation to get you out on the court now that you know how to play pickleball for the first time.


Today was nothing short of amazing! I had the opportunity to try something new and unexpectedly fell in love with it. I played pickleball for the first time, and I can’t remember the last time I felt this excited and invigorated.

My friend Sarah invited me to join her at the local community center, where they hosted a beginner’s pickleball session. Admittedly, I was initially hesitant, considering I haven’t played any sports in years. However, I decided to give it a shot and see what all the hype was about.

When I arrived, I was relieved that the group was welcoming and supportive. The instructor took the time to explain the basic rules, techniques, and how to hold the paddle properly. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for me to catch on, and soon enough, I found myself fully immersed in the game.

I can’t express how exhilarating it was to feel my adrenaline pumping as I chased the ball and connected with my teammates. The fast-paced nature of pickleball made it challenging but also incredibly fun. I loved how the game required a combination of strategy, agility, and teamwork. It was such a fantastic workout, but I hardly noticed because I was so absorbed in the game.

The best part, however, was the camaraderie among the players. I felt welcomed and encouraged, even as a complete novice. It was inspiring to see people of different ages and skill levels coming together to share their passion for the sport. I even met a few players who offered to help me improve my skills and invited me to join their weekly practice sessions.

As I drove home, I couldn’t help but replay the day’s events in my head. I felt a sense of accomplishment and a renewed enthusiasm for trying new things. I’m already looking forward to my next pickleball session and can’t wait to see how much I’ll improve with practice.

I’m grateful for this new experience and the friendships I’ve begun to form. Who knew that stepping out of my comfort zone could be so rewarding? Pickleball has opened up a whole new world for me, and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.


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