Pickleball: How to Play the Most Popular Sport of Recent Years

Ever heard of pickleball? It's a fun cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong.
Pickleball: How to Play the Most Popular Sport of Recent Years

Last update: 20 January, 2023

Pickleball is a relatively new sport that originated from other racquetball disciplines. It originated in the United States, but has already reached other many other countries.

To begin with, its name is unusual. It combines tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It is currently played in more than 70 countries and has more than 5 million followers.

Read on because we’re going to tell you more about this new discipline, with emphasis on why it’s so popular and how it’s played. Let’s go!

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a racket or paddle sport that combines tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Although it’s considered new, it originated in 1965 and its invention is attributed to U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard, according to this website.

People say that it all happened on Bainbridge Island, in the state of Washington, when the politician was with some friends who wanted to play badminton. According to the story, they didn’t have the necessary equipment to play it, but Barney MacCallum, Pritichard’s friend, came up with the idea of improvising with paddles and balls.

Since then, pickleball has evolved as a sport. It stands out for being easy to learn, fast-paced and fun, with simple rules of play. On the other hand, it’s less physically demanding than the disciplines that gave rise to it.

This makes it suitable for everyone, regardless of age or physical condition. Unlike tennis, for example, pickleball doesn’t require as many hours of training to master the racquet.

In terms of space, this discipline requires a small area to set up the court.

The sport of pickleball.
Pickleball is a unique, simple, and very fun sport to play with family or friends.

Where is pickleball most played?

Pickleball was born in the United States, and that is where it is played most.

It arrived in Spain in 2012 with the founding of the Spanish Pickleball Association, which is a member of the International Pickleball Federation, an organization with 30,000 members.

The Basque Country, Canary Islands, Catalonia and Madrid are where the sport is most practiced in Spain.

How is this racquet sport played?

Pickleball has a spark that engages many people. Its ease of play has made it an activity to enjoy with family or friends because, as we mentioned, it doesn’t require much physical demand.

Necessary equipment

You’ll only need three elements to be able to play pickleball:

  • Paddles: These are made of wood or other high-tech materials. In terms of measurements, their width and length cannot exceed 61 centimeters (24 inches).
  • Balls: Made of plastic with small perforations. Their dimensions vary between 7 and 7.5 centimeters in diameter (4 inches). They weigh between 22 and 26 grams (around 1 oz).
  • Net: Very similar to those used in tennis or paddle tennis. They are 6.7 meters long (22 feet) and 91.44 centimeters (36 inches) high at the ends, and 86 cm (34 inches) in the center.
A pickleball court.
Setting up a pickleball court is very simple. The most important thing is that it is a smooth and flat surface.

Pickleball rules

  • It is played in pairs or individually.
  • The team or player who reaches 11, 15, or 21 points wins the set. The winner must always be two points ahead of the opponent.
  • A complete match lasts 3 sets.
  • The court must be smooth and can be set up with portable nets. The dimensions of the playing area are 13.4 meters (44 feet) long by 6 meters (20 feet) wide.
  • No player may hit the ball or play it without bouncing it until it has been bounced once on each side.
  • The ball is served from below, that is, by moving the paddle below the waist in an upward motion. The ball should not bounce on the server’s side of the court.
  • Make sure that the ball enters the service box diagonally opposite the point where the serve was made.
  • It can only bounce once within the boundaries of the opponent’s court. If it bounces outside, the shot is invalid, but if it hits the ground twice, the point is awarded to the team that made the shot.

Many people might think that there’s nothing new in pickleball, but the truth is that there is. By having longer points and requiring a higher level of strategy in an initially slow game, it makes anyone feel at ease.

What’s really important is not physical skill, but mental skill, in the case of beginners. For their part, the more experienced players add speed, making it a very complete sport.

Finally, the players are very close to each other which creates greater interaction between the two teams. This isn’t so possible in the sports that pickleball originates from. For this reason, there are already some scientific studies that analyze the good influence this sport has on older people living alone.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Asociación de Profesionales de la Educación Física ADAL. Revista pedagógica Adal, 18 (31) 21. ISSN 1575-2429.
  • Heo, Jinmoo, et al. “Importance of playing pickleball for older adults’ subjective well-being: A serious leisure perspective.” The Journal of Positive Psychology 13.1 (2018): 67-77.
  • Vitale, Kenneth, and Steven Liu. “Pickleball: review and clinical recommendations for this fast-growing sport.” Current sports medicine reports 19.10 (2020): 406-413.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.