How Pickleball Won Over Everyone

How Pickleball Won Over Everyone

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Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, with over 4.8 million players across the country [3]. From Hollywood celebrities to grandparents, it seems like everyone is jumping on the pickleball bandwagon. But what is pickleball, and how did it become so popular? In this article, we’ll explore the origins of pickleball, the rules of the game, and why it has won over so many players.


What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It is played on a court similar in size to a doubles badminton court with a net that is slightly lower than a tennis net. Players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a Wiffle ball, over the net and into the opponent’s court.

Why has pickleball become so popular?

In recent years, pickleball has exploded in popularity, with players of all ages and skill levels taking up the sport. Many attribute this growth to the game’s accessibility, social nature, and low-impact nature. It is an excellent way for people to stay active, socialize, and have fun.

The Origins of Pickleball

Who invented pickleball?

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington state, and his friend Bill Bell, a businessman. The two were looking for a new game to entertain their families during a lazy summer afternoon. They created pickleball by combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong and using a Wiffle ball and wooden paddles.

How did pickleball get its name?

The origins of the name “pickleball” are somewhat disputed. Some say that Pritchard’s wife Joan coined the name because the game reminded her of the “pickle boat” in rowing, where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Others claim that the game was named after Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, who was known for chasing after stray balls during the game.

When did pickleball start to gain popularity?

After its creation, pickleball started to gain popularity among Pritchard’s friends and family. The game soon spread to other parts of Washington state and eventually across the country. By the 1980s, pickleball had become a popular sport in retirement communities, and in recent years, its popularity has exploded among players of all ages and skill levels.

The Rules of Pickleball

How is pickleball played?

Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, with the first side to reach 11 points winning the game. To start the game, the server must stand behind the baseline and serve the ball underhand, diagonally across the court. The ball must clear the non-volley zone, or “kitchen,” before the opposing player can hit it. After the serve, both players or teams hit the ball back and forth until one side fails to return it.

What are the basic rules of pickleball?

  • The ball can only be struck with the paddle, and it must be hit over the net and into the opponent’s court.
  • The serve must be underhand and hit below the waist.
  • The server must serve diagonally across the court and hit the ball into the opponent’s service court.
  • The non-volley zone, or “kitchen,” is the area within seven feet of the net where players are not allowed to hit the ball in.
  • If the ball hits the net on a serve and lands in the proper service court, it is considered a “let” and the serve is replayed.
  • Only the serving team can score points.
  • The game is won by the first side to reach 11 points, and the winning team must win by at least two points.

What are some advanced strategies in pickleball?

As players become more experienced, they can employ advanced strategies to gain an advantage over their opponents. These strategies include:

  • Dinking: A soft shot hit just over the net that lands in the non-volley zone. This can be used to force the opponent to hit an easy shot, set up a smash, or create an opening for a winner.
  • Lobbing: A high, arching shot hit over the opponent’s head. This can be used to move the opponent back, create space, or buy time to get back into position.
  • Third shot drop: A soft shot hit just over the net on the third shot of the rally. This can be used to regain control of the point and move the opponent back.

Pickleball’s Popularity

Why has pickleball become so popular in retirement communities?

Pickleball has become a popular sport in retirement communities for several reasons. It is a low-impact sport, making it accessible to players with physical limitations. It is also a social sport, providing an opportunity for players to meet new people and stay active.

How has pickleball’s popularity grown beyond retirement communities?

In recent years, pickleball has grown beyond retirement communities and become popular among players of all ages and skill levels. This growth can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • Increased media coverage: Pickleball has been featured in numerous media outlets, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show [2].
  • Professional players: The sport now has professional players, such as Ben Johns and Simone Jardim, who compete in tournaments across the country and have gained a following on social media.
  • Increased accessibility: Many communities now have dedicated pickleball courts, and the sport can be played indoors or outdoors, making it accessible year-round.

How has pickleball influenced popular culture?

Pickleball has become a cultural phenomenon, with Hollywood celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, playing the sport [1]. It has also inspired a growing number of merchandise, including paddle brands, apparel, and accessories.


Pickleball has come a long way from its origins as a simple game played in a backyard. Its accessibility, social nature, and low-impact nature have made it popular among players of all ages and skill levels. With its growing popularity and increasing media coverage, pickleball is sure to continue to be a beloved sport for years to come.


What are the health benefits of playing pickleball?

Pickleball is a low-impact sport that can improve cardiovascular health, balance, and coordination. It is also a great way to stay active and socialize with others.

How much does it cost to play pickleball?

The cost of playing pickleball varies depending on location and equipment. Many community centers and parks offer pickleball courts for free or a nominal fee, and equipment can be purchased for as little as $20.

Can pickleball be played indoors?

Yes, pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors. Indoor facilities may require a different type of ball to minimize noise and damage to the facility.

How many people can play pickleball at once?

Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles. Singles is a one-on-one game, while doubles is played with two players on each side.

What equipment do I need to play pickleball?

To play pickleball, you will need a pickleball paddle and a pickleball. These can be purchased at sporting goods stores or online.

What are the dimensions of a pickleball court?

A pickleball court is 20 feet wide by 44 feet long, with a non-volley zone seven feet from the net on both sides. The net is 36 inches high at the sidelines and 34 inches high at the center.

How is pickleball different from tennis?

Pickleball is similar to tennis in many ways, but there are several key differences. Pickleball is played on a smaller court with a lower net, and players use paddles instead of racquets. The serve in pickleball must be underhand, and the ball must bounce once on each side before players can hit it in the air.

Can pickleball be played competitively?

Yes, pickleball can be played competitively at all levels, from local tournaments to national championships. There are also professional pickleball players who compete in tournaments across the country.

Is pickleball easy to learn?

Pickleball is relatively easy to learn, especially for those who have played other racquet sports before. However, like any sport, it takes practice to improve and master the game.

Can children play pickleball?

Yes, children can play pickleball. The sport is great for all ages and can be adjusted to accommodate players of different skill levels and physical abilities. Many schools and community centers now offer pickleball programs for children.

What are some of the most popular pickleball paddle brands?

Some of the most popular pickleball paddle brands include Selkirk, Paddletek, and Engage.

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