Pickleball is quickly becoming one of America's favorite pastimes. It's no wonder, too — it's similar to many classic games Americans love, like ping pong, tennis and badminton. It's a simple, low-impact recreation accessible to players of all ages.
Learn more about what pickleball is, why it's so popular and how to play.
What Is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a fast-paced game that rolls ping pong, tennis and badminton into one family-friendly paddle sport. The rules are straightforward and easy to remember. Very little equipment is needed. All you need is a paddle for each player, a low net and a perforated plastic ball.
It's also addictive — once you start playing, you won't want to stop. You could happily lose hours to pickleball matches. Why is pickleball so addictive? It's a fast-paced, competitive game that tests your balance, hand-eye coordination and agility — all while being low-impact and endurance-building.
Why Is Pickleball Becoming So Popular?
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., and pickleball clubs are popping up everywhere. In many places, pickleball is more popular than tennis. Here are some reasons why pickleball is becoming so popular amongst sports enthusiasts:
Pickleball is perfect for players of all ages and skill levels. If you love and know how to play tennis, ping pong or badminton, you'll quickly pick up the rules of pickleball. This sport is easy to learn and teach others, so it's perfect for players of all ages or skill levels.
Pickleball is a fun, social pastime that keeps players active. A pickleball court is significantly smaller than a tennis court. You can fit four pickleball courts in a tennis court and use the same size court for both singles and doubles games. The small court size makes chatting with your teammates and opponents easier while staying active.
Pickleball offers low-intensity, low-impact exercise. Pickleball is a low-impact, low-intensity game. The court size is small enough to keep players with joint problems or limited mobility from placing excessive strain on their bodies while they play.
Pickleball is an ideal sport for parks and recreation facilities. Resorts, parks and sports recreation complexes are hopping on the pickleball bandwagon. Why? It's easy to convert a tennis court into several pickleball courts to meet the growing demand for the game.
How to Play Pickleball
Playing pickleball is simple. Like a tennis court, a pickleball court has two sides divided by a low net. In the center of the court, there's a "non-volley zone," which is commonly referred to as the "kitchen." The kitchen is a 14-foot wide box that extends 7 feet beyond the net on both sides.
To begin, choose a serving team. One serving team member must underhand serve the pickleball diagonally across the court into the opposite service box. Unlike tennis, pickleball has a two-bounce rule — so the opposing team must return the serve so the ball bounces twice before the "rally" begins.
Once the opposing team returns the serve, a rally starts. During a rally, anyone can volley the ball over the net. The rally continues until someone makes a fault. When someone makes a fault, the opposing team earns a point.
Faults include the following:
The ball bouncing twice.
The ball hitting someone above their paddle-side wrist.
Someone hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds.
Touching the net with a paddle or body part.
Not serving diagonally.
Volleying in the kitchen.
Serving in front of the baseline.
If the serving team wins a rally when playing doubles, the players on the serving team switch sides, so the same server serves the ball across the other diagonal. However, if the serving team loses a rally, players stay where they are, and the serve goes to the other player on the serving team.
The first team to land 11 points wins the match.
What Are the Differences Between Pickleball and Tennis?
You might have noticed pickleball and tennis have a lot in common. But what sets them apart?
Several rules make pickleball unique, including the rules of the "non-volley zone," or kitchen. The kitchen is what makes pickleball genuinely unique. It is a safety feature that prevents players from being hit by their opponent's spikes due to the smaller size of the court. Players cannot be in the kitchen or standing on the boundary line when their paddle comes into contact with the ball. And if a player hits the ball and falls into the kitchen due to forward momentum, that's still considered a fault.
Here are some other key differences between pickleball and tennis:
The gear: A pickleball paddle is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. It also features more padding. A pickleball ball is similar to a whiffle ball and is made of perforated hard plastic, so it won't bounce as high as a tennis ball.
The court: A pickleball court is much smaller than a tennis court at 20 feet wide by 44 feet long. For reference, tennis courts are significantly larger at 120 feet long by 60 feet wide.
The serve: Tennis games require an overhand serve. Pickleball serves must be underhanded.
The two-bounce serve rule: After the serving team's serve bounces into the opposite service box, the other team must return the ball. The return serve must bounce before the rally begins.
Why You Should Include Pickleball in Your Sports Complex Plans
The demand for pickleball courts is rising, thanks to the sport's growing popularity. Adding a few pickleball court lines to your sports complex's current tennis, squash or other courts can meet those demands.
Adding pickleball courts also expands your sports program offerings, bringing in new business and making your sports complex a hub for pickleball fans in your area. Pickleball courts can help meet the needs of sports enthusiasts looking for low-impact alternatives to their favorite games — helping you keep the whole community active.
Contact Us for Pickleball Sports Complex and Netting Solutions
If you want to create a pickleball venue or add pickleball courts to your sports complex, reach out to Grand Slam Safety. Our experts specialize in designing functional, accessible, safe, indoor pickleball-friendly venues.
We'll partner with you to design and install an indoor pickleball court system that provides players with a safe space to compete year-round. Contact us today to learn more about our multi-sport complex design and consulting services.