If you've heard of "pickleball," you're probably thinking about older citizens. That's hardly unexpected, given that the paddle sport with the odd name grew in popularity among the 55+ crowd in the late 2000s. Pickleball, on the other hand, is attracting players of all ages as it grows in popularity in the United States and around the world. It's even been suggested that it may become an Olympic sport. But what is it, exactly?
What Is Pickleball and How Is It Played?
Pickleball is a hybrid sport that combines badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. It's played on a badminton-sized court (indoor or outdoor) with a tennis-style low net. Players whack a whiffle-type ball back and forth using a paddle that is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. Singles or doubles games are available, with doubles being the most popular. The majority of games are played to 11 points, with a two-point spread required to win, and each game lasts between 15 and 20 minutes.
The game begins with a player serving the ball from the right-hand service square. Serves must be made underhand, diagonally, and with the paddle below the waist. The ball must also pass through a 7-foot (2-meter) "non-volley zone" in front of the net. Before returning the ball, the receiving team must let it bounce once. If the serving team returns the serve, they must also allow the ball to bounce once before hitting it. Players can hit the ball off a bounce or in the air after these two bounces.
The game continues until someone makes a mistake. When the ball goes out of bounds, does not clear the net, or is volleyed from the non-volley zone, among other things, a fault occurs. Only the serving team has the ability to score. The serving staff keeps going until there is a problem with the service.
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association's annual Pickleball Participant Report, more than 3 million people in the United States played pickleball in 2018. Pickleball is now one of the fastest-growing recreational sports in the United States and North America, with around twice as many individuals participating as in 2010. What is the point of the appeal?
Experts claim the game is simple to pick up, takes little time to master, and is easily accessible because all players need is a racquet and a ball. It also gives you a wonderful exercise. Pickleball may also become a fast-paced, strategic game for expert players. It's also just plain entertaining.
For several months, Janice Holsinger, 66, has been playing pickleball in an indoor league near Madison, Wisconsin. "I like it because it's fantastic exercise and very social," she writes in an email, adding that she tried it since she was looking for a joint activity with her husband.
Pickleball was invented in the mid-1960s by three men named Bill Bell, Barney McCallum, and Joel Pritchard as a way to entertain their children. No one knows why or how the game spread from their backyards on Bainbridge Island, Washington. However, even decades later, the game is still popular. According to the USA Pickleball Association, there are roughly 7,000 indoor and outdoor pickleball courts spread across North America (USAPA). In addition, the game is being taught to kids in physical education classes in middle and high school, it is an intramural activity on many college campuses, and pros are developing.
According to Selkirk Sports, a pickleball paddle manufacturer, the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships drew more than 2,100 competitors in 2018. In addition, the 2018 USA Pickleball Nationals drew 2,300 players from 46 states and other nations. Active and retired tennis stars compete, including JoAnne Russell, a former Wimbledon Doubles champion.
Pickleball could one day become an Olympic sport, if the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) has its way. The International Pickleball Federation (IFP) was founded in 2010 with the purpose of making pickleball a global sport. It's a long way down the road. The United States, Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Spain have all joined the IFP in less than a decade.
Pickleball's odd name is one thing that many people find perplexing. Why is it called "pickleball" when there are no pickles involved? The origins of the name can be traced back to two different events. One of the most common stories is that one of the game's designers, Joel Pritchard, had a dog named Pickles who would take the ball and run away with it during their games. Tristan Baurick, a blogger from Puget Sound, has a more logical answer.
According to Baurick, the name was inspired by Pritchard's wife, Joan Pritchard, a competitive rower on Bainbridge Island. Joan said she coined the term "pickleball" to describe the nameless sport because its mix of sports reminded her of the pickle boat in crew, which is made up of oarsmen chosen from the scraps of other boats. Several other members of the family disclosed that they didn't even obtain their dog, Pickles, until years after the game was established.