Pickleball 101: The Popular Game Explained

C’mon, admit it! You want a better understanding of pickleball and to better understand why everyone is talking about the sport. Here is your pickleball 101 lesson. 🙂

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sports in the United States. From 2019 to 2020, U.S. pickleball players grew from 3.46 million to 4.2 million players, a 21% increase, officially making it a thing.

And Pickleball business is booming as people capitalize on giving lessons, creating new paddle technology, and creating content (hello!) around the sport. It’s also a game with a low entry barrier, allowing people of all ages to learn the basics in just a few minutes–hence the rampant growth.

A common misconception about pickleball is that it is primarily a sport that older people play. While there are a lot of older pickleball players, it has been dramatically adopted by Americans aged 18-54 over the past few years as well.

pickleball 101

Pickleball 101

The sport is often compared to a miniature version of tennis combined with ping pong and badminton with elements of racquetball.

Pickleball is played on a court that looks similar to an official tennis court but is a third of the size. While many parks now have designated pickleball courts, the beauty of the sport is that it can also be played in the front half of a tennis court if there are no official pickleball courts in your area. It is also easy to set up a makeshift pickleball court just about anywhere.

To begin playing pickleball, each player needs a paddle which can be purchased for anywhere between $20 – $500, depending on the paddle’s composition and brand name. How much does paddle technology impact the play of your game? It depends on who you ask. But one thing most pickleball players can agree on: the satisfaction of hearing “POP” when the wiffleball gets slammed and sails back over the net.

Pickleball is often played to a score of 11, where points are only scored if your team serves to start the point. Teams can be made of two people (doubled) or played one-on-one (singles; less common)

If the serving team wins the point by forcing the opposing player to hit the ball out of bounds, having the ball bounce twice on their side, or hitting it into the net, they gain a point and get to serve again. Similar to tennis, unforced errors often lead to defeat.

After every point, the server switches sides to serve from the opposite side until they lose the point. Then the opposing team has a turn to serve until they lose a point. Pickleball lesson: scoring is a bit of a pain in the a$$.

Younger players seem to enjoy either a game of singles or doubles, as a singles game has proved to be a good cardio workout. Singles games have you running from side-to-side and back-and-forth chasing the ball all over the court. Doubles is a more skill-based game that can be enjoyed by players of any age as well. Older players seem to enjoy doubles as it is not as necessary to run all over the court chasing down balls. And since many pickleball players have transitioned from tennis to give their bodies a break, doubles is often preferred.

While picking up the game of pickleball comes naturally for many people, even if they haven’t played tennis or ping pong before, lessons are an excellent option to learn the game’s nuances. Aside from knowing the best techniques for hitting backhands or forehands, many strategies can be quickly uncovered when you take a lesson. Positioning and ball-striking techniques are massively important if you strive to be an above-average pickleball player.

With so many people picking up the game of pickleball recently, there is undoubtedly a friend or family member to play with. It is a great way to get outside while getting a good workout in a fun way that everyone can enjoy.

We hope this Pickleball 101 lesson was helpful. This site is dedicated to learning from the ground up–I hope you’ll follow my journey as I embark on a pickleball path.

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