Pickleball is a popular paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It is played with a perforated plastic ball and paddles on a badminton-sized court with a tennis-style net. The term “pickler” is used frequently in pickleball, but what exactly does it mean? Here is a detailed look at the different meanings and uses of the term “pickler” in the world of pickleball.
Meaning #1: Getting “Pickled” by Scoring Zero Points
One of the most common uses of the term “pickler” in pickleball refers to when a player or team fails to score any points during a game. When a team gets shut out and scores a big fat zero for the entire game, they are said to have gotten “pickled.
This pickleball lingo is used to describe the unfortunate situation of not registering a single point on the scoreboard. The losing team remains stuck at zero while their opponent racks up the score into double or even triple digits.
Some examples of getting pickled in pickleball include:
- “We got totally pickled in that last game. The score was 11-0.”
- “Every time we play them we end up getting pickled.”
- “I can’t believe we let ourselves get pickled again! That’s the third time this month.”
As you can see, “pickled” refers to the goose egg on the scoreboard and the frustration of not scoring at all. It’s every pickleball player’s nightmare to get skunked and pickled in a lopsided shutout.
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Meaning #2: The Server’s “Pickle!” Call
Another common use of “pickler” in pickleball refers to the server’s call just before hitting the ball during a serve. In official tournament play, the server must loudly call out “Pickle!” before making contact with the ball on the serve.
This loud declaration serves two key purposes:
- It alerts the opposing team and officials that the serve is about to take place.
- It allows the server to sync up their paddle swing with the verbal timing of shouting “Pickle!
Yelling “Pickle!” has become an essential ritual before serving in competitive pickleball. It’s considered proper etiquette and good sportsmanship to make the “Pickle!” call clear and audible. Even during casual play, most players will still call out “Pickle!” simply out of habit.
So the next time you hear someone shout “Pickle!” on the court, you’ll know that a serve is coming your way right after that telltale call. Keep your ears open and get ready to return that ball after you hear the pickle call!
Meaning #3: Being “In a Pickle” During Gameplay
The expression “in a pickle” refers to being in a troublesome or challenging situation. This common phrase also makes its way into pickleball terminology.
When a player gets stuck in a sticky situation during a pickleball game, they are sometimes said to be “in a pickle.” Here are some examples of pickleball scenarios that could leave a player in a pickle:
- Getting caught mid-court in no man’s land with the opponents controlling the net.
- Finding yourself out of position for your partner’s return of serve.
- Discovering you’ve been caught going the wrong way from a deceptive shot.
- Having your ankles broken by a wicked dink shot at the net.
- Getting handcuffed by a ball that takes a nasty sideways bounce off the net.
- Slipping and falling on a dusty court and losing the point.
As you can see, there are many ways a pickleball player can end up in a real pickle during gameplay. It refers to any moments of the game when you’re in a tough spot and at a disadvantage against your opponents.
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The Origins of “Pickler” in Pickleball
Now that we’ve covered the main definitions, where exactly did this “pickler” pickleball terminology come from? There are a few interesting theories on the origins.
The Pickle Boat Connection
One theory is that “pickler” is related to the term “pickle boat” that was historically used for a boat with an oarsman crew team made up of leftover novices. Just like the random hodge-podge make-up of a pickle boat crew, pickleball was seen as a Frankenstein mix of different sports.
Pickles the Dog
Another origin tale is that pickleball’s co-founder Joel Pritchard had a family dog named Pickles. The cute pup may have inspired the quirky name for this new sport. However, this theory is less documented than the pickle boat one.
In a Pickle
Finally, “pickler” could be related to the phrase “in a pickle” referring to a challenging situation. As we’ve seen, pickleball players can often find themselves in a pickle during intense rallies.
Why the Name Stuck
Regardless of the exact origin, the whimsical term “pickler” gave the sport a catchy, unique identity. Pickleball pioneers Bill Bell and Barney McCallum helped popularize the name that would propel pickleball from obscurity in 1965 to international fame today.
The silly name helped the sport stand out and get noticed compared to more traditional monikers like tennis or badminton. No one can deny that “pickler” captures the fun, playful spirit that has made pickleball such a hit around the world.
In Summary: The Meaning of “Pickler” in Pickleball
To recap, the term “pickler” in the context of pickleball can refer to three key concepts:
- Getting “Pickled”: Being shut out 0-11 or 0-15 and scoring zero points for the entire game.
- The “Pickle!” Call: The server shouting “Pickle!” before hitting the ball to signal the start of the serve.
- Being “In a Pickle”: Finding yourself stuck in a troublesome situation or disadvantageous position during gameplay.
The origins of the quirky term likely lie in the concept of a mixed up pickle boat crew and the phrase “in a pickle.” Now “pickler” has become an integral part of pickleball vocabulary used by casual players and pros alike.
So next time you hear pickleball players talking about getting pickled, calling pickles, or being in a pickle, you’ll know they are simply using fun lingo intrinsic to this lovably zany sport.