Imagine this: a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, all in one exciting game. That is the essence of pickleball, a sport that has taken the world by storm, and with good reason. Developed in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum and Bill Bell, this game has grown 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 on a journey 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: Court Dimensions and Configuration
Before you start crushing 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-fly zone on each side of the net, aptly named the “kitchen.” The net is hung 36 inches at the ends and 34 inches in the center.
Step 2: Achieve success
Serving is the gateway to pickleball skill. It all starts with a bounce! The server must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball diagonally toward the opponent’s service court. The serve must go beyond the no-volley zone and remember, it is not necessary to perform an overhead serve: keep it below the waist. Oh, and don’t forget the double bounce rule: the serve, followed by a return, must bounce before the volley begins.
Step 3: The Broadcast and Broadcast Revolution
Volleying, or hitting the ball in the air without letting it bounce, is where the action intensifies. But, and it’s a big but, remember the no-fly zone? Getting into it to smash a volley is a big no-no. Keep those feet firmly planted out of the kitchen to avoid penalties.
Step 4: Dinking: the art of precision
Enter the dink: a smooth, controlled shot that barely clears the net. This technique is crucial to maintaining control during a rally. It’s a delicate move that requires touch and precision, so channel your inner artist as you delicately drop the ball over the net.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s talk gear.
The Pickleball Paddle
Your faithful companion on the court. Pickleball paddles come in various materials, sizes, and weights. For beginners, a medium weight paddle with a larger sweet spot is recommended. And remember, the USAPA has specific guidelines on pallet 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 resembles a wiffle ball. This design ensures a consistent bounce and adds an extra layer of challenge to the game.
Pickleball Apparel: More Than Just Style
Choosing the right pickleball apparel can improve your comfort and performance on the court. Here’s what you should consider:
- Comfortable sportswear: Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you cool and dry during intense rallies. Light and breathable materials are your best option.
- Suitable footwear: Your feet speak for themselves on the court, so invest in comfortable, supportive tennis shoes. Look for non-marking soles to preserve the integrity of the playing surface.
- Solar protection: If you play outdoors, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun. A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are your best defense against the harsh ultraviolet rays.
- Flexible clothing: Pickleball involves a variety of movements, from quick sprints to lateral movements. Choose clothing that allows unrestricted movement, such as moisture-wicking shorts or skirts and a breathable top.
- Layer options: Courts can vary in temperature, so consider wearing a light jacket or long-sleeved shirt that can be easily removed if things get hot.
Remember, pickleball clothing isn’t just about looking good, it’s about feeling comfortable and confident while conquering the court.
Pickleball techniques for beginners
Serve it well
Mastering the serve is like having the perfect opening line in a conversation. Start from the bottom, keep it below the waist, and aim diagonally across the court. Remember, the double bounce rule also applies to serving.
Volley with precision
Volleying requires quick reflexes and a steady hand. Keep your eyes on the ball, position yourself well, and swing with controlled aggression. But, and it’s a big but, respecting the no-fly zone: it changes the rules of the game.
Dinking – the gentle giant
The dink is a short, soft shot that comes off the pickleball bounce. Tap the ball, sending it just over the net, and watch as your opponent struggles to respond. It is a strategic move that adds style to your game.
Master the kitchen dance
The no-fly zone, or “kitchen,” is both your friend and your enemy. Stay away when you volley, but draw your opponents in. A well-placed shot just over the net can force them to go to the kitchen, giving you the advantage.
Read your opponent
Pickleball is also a mental game. Observe your opponents carefully: are they aggressive or defensive? Knowing their patterns can help you anticipate their moves and gain a strategic advantage.
In pickleball, scoring is simple and works on a rally point system. The serving side can only score points, and games are typically played to 11 points, with a margin of victory of at least two points.
Here’s the truth about the score:
- The serving team starts the game with the first serve.
- If they win the rally, they get a point and continue serving.
- If the receiving team wins the rally, they do not score a point but win the service.
- The serving side changes sides only when it fails to score a point.
- Points are scored regardless of which side serves.
But wait, there is more! In a doubles game, both players on the serving team have the opportunity 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 toward pickleball mastery.
Pickleball Court Setup
Indoor Play Versus Outdoor Play
Whether you play indoors or outdoors, the dimensions of the court remain the same. However, there are some nuances to consider. Outdoor courts can have different surface materials, which affects the bounce of the ball, so be prepared to adapt your game accordingly.
Setting the stage
Creating a pickleball court is easier 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.
Heating and cooling
Pickleball is a physically demanding sport and, like any activity, it is essential to prepare the body. Warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretches 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 base. Opt for 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 seniors?
Absolutely not! While it is true that pickleball has gained popularity among older people due to its lower impact, it is a game for all ages and levels. It’s easy for beginners to learn, but challenging enough to keep advanced players interested.
Can I play pickleball alone?
While pickleball is traditionally a doubles game, you can also play singles. The rules remain the same, with some adjustments to court positioning.
Training with Chuze Fitness
Congratulations! Now you have discovered the secrets of pickleball, a sport that is not just a game but a lifestyle. As you enter the court with paddle in hand, remember the words of Joel Pritchard, one of the founders of the game: “It’s a game for all ages and athletic abilities, and it’s a lot of fun!” So, get out there, embrace the passion of pickleball, 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 at Chuze Fitness at our new pickleball facility at our Coors and Central location in New Mexico. With its state-of-the-art facilities, group fitness classes, and a commitment to health and wellness, Chuze Fitness offers the perfect environment for strength and fitness training, so you can excel in this fastest-growing sport. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, Chuze Fitness welcomes all fitness enthusiasts to join their fitness community and improve their overall well-being. So, grab your paddle, hit the court, and let Chuze Fitness be your partner in your quest for a healthier, more active lifestyle.