What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is touted as the fast-growing sport in the U.S., according to the Association of Pickleball Professionals. You’ve likely heard friends or family members discussing this increasingly popular sport and wondered: What is pickleball?
Best understood as a mixture of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, pickleball is played on a 44-by-20 foot long court. The game requires minimal equipment, which is likely one of the reasons its popularity is so widespread. Players only need a paddle, a ball, and a court with a net.
If you’re interested in learning how to play pickleball, you can easily find affordable equipment. But, be sure to bring other necessities along like a small towel, a water bottle, and rehydrating powder like DripDrop’s electrolyte drink mix.
Most pickleball players say the game is so simple to learn that first-time players often get hooked right away, leading many to stay on the courts longer than they expected. Staying hydrated while exercising is extremely important, particularly if you’re playing pickleball in the sun on an outdoor court. Adding DripDrop’s electrolyte drink mix to your water delivers three times more electrolytes than traditional sports drinks and helps speed up dehydration relief, so it can be a vital asset when you hit the courts.
How to Play Pickleball
As pickleball becomes more popular, many tennis players have switched over to playing the new sport as it is very similar to tennis and may be less stressful on the body.
If you want to learn how to play pickleball, it’s fairly simple — but first, you need to locate a court to practice on. Pickleheads is an online directory that locates pickleball courts in your area. Simply type in your location, and the website will generate a map displaying nearby locations.
Once you’ve got a place to play, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Pickleball players seem to care about connecting with other players as much as they care about the sport, so it’s likely that you’ll meet players who are willing to show you the ropes.
If you want to have a preliminary understanding of pickleball rules, here is some basic information for beginners:
Pickleball is usually played in doubles (two people on each team), though it can be played as singles.
The court is divided into four squares. The line at the back of the court is called the “baseline,” the line down the middle is the “center line” and the lines on each side of the court are called “side lines.”
The horizontal white line painted on the court closest to the net on either side is the boundary of the area called “the kitchen.” This area covers seven feet on each side and is a no-volley zone. You can, however, hit groundstrokes in this zone.
There are two ways to hit the ball: Groundstrokes, which you hit after bouncing the ball on the ground (typically at the baseline) and volleys, which are hit out of the air. Players usually volley when they are closer to the net (though not in “the kitchen”).
One player on a team serves the ball from the baseline to the person on the other team who is diagonal from the serving player. Serves must be hit underhand.
Before two teams can volley, the ball must bounce from the serve on both sides.
Much like tennis, the game continues until the ball lands in a “fault” — out of boundaries or in the kitchen. A point is awarded to the serving team if the other team is responsible for the fault.
These are the basic pickleball rules you’ll want to be familiar with before hitting the court, but the easiest way to learn is to just head out and play.
What You Need to Play Pickleball
Now that you have a better answer to the question, “what is pickleball,” perhaps you’re ready to give it a try. You’ll need a few very basic items before you break out your athletic gear and find your local court.
A paddle - Look for a paddle specifically designed for pickleball as it differs from paddleball paddles in that a pickleball paddle does not have holes in it.
A ball - The ball used in pickleball is similar in size and shape to a wiffle ball. In fact, the original inventors of the game used a wiffle ball until they designed a piece of equipment more specific to the sport. A pickleball ball is a bit heavier and has more circular-shaped holes to allow it to travel and bounce differently.
Athletic shoes and clothing - You will want to wear clothing and shoes that are easy to move around in as you navigate the court. Moisture-wicking fabric is preferable to keep you cool and allow sweat to dry out quickly.
Water bottle - With any kind of exercise, avoiding dehydration is extremely important. When you get in the zone and your body is releasing a higher amount of sweat, it’s easy to start becoming dehydrated without even noticing. Make an effort to take regular water breaks to keep your body hydrated and bring an electrolyte supplement along such as DripDrop to help your body recover from dehydration quickly.
Pickleball is one of the most popular sports in the country for a good reason. Players attribute their love of the game to both the rewarding physical activity and the social aspect. Between August 2021 and August 2022, the Association of Pickleball Professionals found that 36.5 million Americans said they played the sport at least one time, demonstrating its widespread appeal.
If you’ve never stepped on to a pickleball court, find a friend to join you, buy some affordable equipment, and start practicing your game!