Picture this: a mix of tennis, badminton and table tennis all rolled into one exciting game. This is the essence of pickleball, a sport that has taken the world by storm and for good reason. Developed in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum and Bill Bell, this game has evolved from a casual backyard activity to a fast-paced, competitive sport recognized by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). If you’re ready to dive into the world of pickleball, you’re in for a treat. This guide will take you through the basics, equipment, techniques, strategies, court setup, safety precautions and even answer some burning questions about this dynamic game.
How to play Pickleball
Step 1: Dimensions and court setup
Before you start smashing those pickle balls, you need to understand the lay of the land. A pickleball court is similar to a doubles badminton court and measures 20 feet by 44 feet for both singles and doubles play. There is a 7-foot no-volley zone on each side of the net, aptly called the “kitchen.” The net is hung at 36 inches on the ends and 34 inches on center.
Step 2: Serving Success
Serving is the gateway to pickleball prowess. It all starts with a bounce! The server must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball diagonally into the opponent’s court. The serve must clear the no-volley zone and remember there is no need for a general serve – keep it below the waist. Oh, and don’t forget that double bounce rule: the serve, followed by the return, must both bounce before the volley begins.
Step 3: The volleyball revolution
Volleying, or hitting the ball in the air without letting it bounce, is where the action heats up. But, and it’s a big but, remember the volleyball no-go zone? Going into it to break a volley is a big no-no. Keep those legs attached outside the kitchen to avoid penalties.
Step 4: Dinner – The Art of Precision
Enter the dink – a soft and controlled shot that just clears the net. This technique is vital to maintaining control during a rally. It’s a delicate move, requiring touch and precision, so channel your inner artist as you gently flick the ball over the net.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s talk gear.
The Pickleball Paddle
Your trusted sidekick on the field. Pickleball paddles come in a variety of materials, sizes and weights. For beginners, a medium weight paddle with a larger sweet spot is recommended. And remember, the USAPA has specific guidelines for paddle dimensions, so be sure to check them before making a purchase.
Not just any ball will do. The official pickleball is a perforated plastic ball that looks like a wiffle ball. This design ensures a stable bounce and adds an extra level of challenge to the game.
Pickleball Apparel: More Than Just Style
Choosing the right pickleball outfit can improve your comfort and performance on the court. Here’s what to consider:
- Comfortable sports clothes: Choose moisture-wicking fabrics that keep you cool and dry during intense rallies. Lightweight, breathable materials are your best bet.
- Suitable footwear: Your feet do the talking on the court, so invest in comfortable and supportive tennis shoes. Look for non-marking soles to maintain the integrity of the playing surface.
- Sun protection: If you play outdoors, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are your best defense against those harsh UV rays.
- Flexible clothing: Pickleball involves a range of moves, from quick sprints to side shuffles. Choose clothing that allows unrestricted movement, such as moisture-wicking shorts or skirts and a breathable top.
- Coating Options: Courts can vary in temperature, so consider wearing a light jacket or long-sleeve shirt that you can easily remove if things get hot.
Remember, pickleball clothing isn’t just about looking the part – it’s about feeling comfortable and confident as you conquer the court.
Pickleball techniques for beginners
Serve the top right
Mastering your serve is like having the perfect opening line in a conversation. Start low, keep it below the waist and aim diagonally across the field. Remember that this double bounce rule also applies to the serve.
Volleyball requires quick reflexes and a steady hand. Keep your eye on the ball, position yourself well and swing with controlled aggression. But, and it’s a big but, respect the no-volley zone – it’s a game changer.
Dinking – the gentle giant
A dink is a short, soft shot off the bounce of the pickleball. Tap the ball, sending it just over the net, and watch your opponent try to respond. It’s a strategic move that adds flair to your game.
Master the Kitchen Dance
The no-volley zone, or “kitchen,” is both your friend and your enemy. Stay away from it when volleying, but lure your opponents inside. A well-placed shot right over the net can force them into the kitchen, giving you the upper hand.
Read your opponent
Pickleball is also a mind game. Keep a close eye on your opponents – are they offensive or defensive? Knowing their patterns can help you predict their moves and gain a strategic advantage.
In pickleball, scoring is simple and works on a rally point system. The serving side can only win points and games are usually played to 11 points, with a margin of victory of at least two points.
Here’s the low score:
- The serving team starts the game with the first serve.
- If they win the rally, they win a point and continue to serve.
- If the home team wins the rally, it does not win a point but wins the serve.
- The serving side only switches sides when it fails to win a point.
- Points are scored regardless of which side is serving.
But wait, there’s more! In a doubles match, both players on the serving team have a chance to serve and the serving order alternates between partners.
So, embrace the thrill of scoring, celebrate every point and remember, it’s not just about winning. it’s about enjoying the game and the journey to pickleball mastery.
Pickleball court setup
Indoor vs outdoor game
Whether you play indoors or outdoors, the pitch dimensions remain the same. However, there are some nuances that should be taken into account. Outdoor courts may have different surface materials, affecting the bounce of the ball, so be prepared to adjust your game accordingly.
Setting the Scene
Creating a pickleball court is simpler than you think. All you need is a flat surface, some chalk or tape and a net. Many community centers and sports clubs have dedicated pickleball courts, so check local listings for available spaces.
Warm-up and Cool-down
Pickleball is a physically demanding sport, and like any activity, it’s important to prepare your body. Warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretching to get the blood flowing. After your game, cool down with static stretches to aid muscle recovery.
In the world of pickleball, your feet are your foundation. Choose tennis shoes with non-marking soles for optimal grip on the court. This ensures that you can make those quick movements without slipping.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is pickleball only for old people?
No way! While it’s true that pickleball has gained popularity among seniors due to its lower impact, it’s a game for all ages and skill levels. It’s easy for beginners to pick up, but challenging enough to keep advanced players engaged.
Can I play pickleball by myself?
While pickleball is traditionally a doubles game, you can also play singles. The rules remain the same, with a few adjustments to the location of the court.
Training with Chuze Fitness
Congratulations! Now you have unlocked the secrets of pickleball – a sport that is not just a game but a way of life. As you step onto the court with paddle in hand, remember the words of Joel Pritchard, one of the game’s founders: “It’s a game for all ages and athletic abilities, and it’s a lot of fun!” So get out there, embrace the pickleball passion and let the games begin!
And for those looking to stay in shape and take their game to the next level, consider supplementing pickleball with a workout routine at Chuze Fitness at our new pickleball facilities in Coors and our central New Mexico location! With state-of-the-art facilities, group fitness classes and a commitment to health and wellness, Chuze Fitness provides the perfect environment for strength and conditioning training to excel in this fastest growing sport. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, Chuze Fitness welcomes all fitness enthusiasts to join the fitness community and improve their overall wellness. So grab your paddle, hit the court and let Chuze Fitness be your partner in the pursuit of a healthier, more active lifestyle.