A fun game that is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong
I’d never heard of pickleball until I wintered in Arizona. It is a popular game in many of the communities that cater to winter residents, but it also has a following outside of the snowbird population. I played pickleball for the first time this winter.
Pickleball has been described as a combination of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. It is played on a court the size of a badminton court, with a net that is 36 inches on the outside and 34 inches in the middle. Players volley baseball-sized wiffle balls with paddles similar to ping pong paddles.
The standard pickleball is made of a durable plastic 2 ¾ to 3 inches in diameter. Paddles are made from a relatively rigid, non-compressible material. The paddles available for common use in our community are made of wood. However, regular pickleball players purchase their own paddles, usually made of fiberglass or graphite. Paddle weight and grip sizes vary.
The ball is served underhand diagonally to the opponent’s serving court. The ball must bounce twice, once on each side of the court, before players can hit the ball in the air. At that point, players can hit the ball before or after it bounces.
Points are scored by the serving team only. The first side scoring 11 points with at least a 2 point lead wins. When playing doubles, which is mostly what we play in our community, the person on the right serves first and continues serving as long as winning points, changing positions with the partner after each point. When the serve is lost, the other partner serves until that serve is lost and it becomes the opposing team’s turn to serve.
With a court size smaller than a tennis court and the ball moving at about 1/3 the speed of a tennis ball, pickleball is touted as a game for all ages and athletic levels. Don’t let that fool you into thinking pickleball is an inactive or sluggish game. It is an athletic game providing a great workout.
After only a few minutes on the court the first time I played, I was breathing heavily. I felt muscles I didn’t know I had. I was sore the next day. Of course, playing for two hours my first time out may not have been the wisest thing to do. And I got extra exercise running after the balls I missed. But the game was a lot of fun and I’ve been out for more.
Pickleball was created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, as a sport for the entire family. Pickles was the name of the family dog who chased after errant balls. Pickle’s ball was later shortened to pickleball. Today pickleball is played in schools, recreation centres and retirement communities. According to Pickleball Canada’s website, it is the fastest growing sport in North America. I didn’t realize pickleball was played in Canada until this summer, when I learned of pickleball leagues at a local community club.
For more information see International Federation of Pickleball.