What is Pickleball?
Despite its funny name, Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America and is catching on worldwide. It’s played by millions of people of all ages and skill levels.
Pickleball is best described as a combination of badminton, ping-pong and tennis. You can play indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a net similar to a tennis net. Players use a paddle that is reminiscent of ping-pong paddles, but is bigger and usually made of more advanced materials. The ball used is very similar to a plastic whiffle ball with holes covering the surface. Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, just like tennis.
Pickleball is truly a game for all ages, shapes and skill levels. The rules are simple enough for kids to easily pick up and many people develop a passion for the sport after just a couple games. Because of the smaller court size and light ball, the game is incredibly popular among seniors looking for a low-impact form of exercise.
What’s with the name?
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum created game when they couldn’t find equipment for their badminton court and improvised with ping pong paddles and a whiffle ball. The story goes that Joel Pritchard’s wife called the game pickleball because the combination of different sports reminded her of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. In other words, it has nothing to do with pickles.
Pickleball rules are simple and very familiar if you’ve played other racquet sports. For a complete rundown of rules, check out our guide to pickleball rules.
Public pickleball courts are becoming popular around the world, with over 4,500 locations tracked by the USAPA. Click here to see the great list of places to play that the USAPA maintains. If there isn’t a public court near you, don’t fret - you can make your own! We sell portable pickleball nets that make it possible to set up a court anywhere with a flat surface. There are also plenty of companies who specialize in building or resurfacing tennis and sport courts for pickleball. The basic court dimensions are 20’ x 44’. The net is 36” high at the edge and 34” high in the center.
What you’ll need to play
There is minimal equipment needed to play pickleball. First, you’ll need a paddle. If you’re looking to get started cheaply, check out one of our paddle bundles that include enough paddles and balls for you and your friends and family to get playing. While wooden paddles are fine, we suggest investing in a beginner composite paddle that will perform much better and last even as you progress in ability. If you want help picking the perfect paddle, check out our interactive paddle guide.
You’ll also need balls. There are different types of balls generally used for indoor and outdoor pickleball. While similar in size and weight, the main differences are the size of the holes and the thickness of the plastic, which affects how bouncy and durable the balls are. Outdoor balls are generally thicker and heavier with smaller holes while indoor balls are thinner and lighter with larger holes.