What (the heck) is pickleball? Everything you need to know

What (the heck) is pickleball? Everything you need to know

New to pickleball? Or maybe you’re a veteran and still don’t know where it got the name… today’s article will explain: what is pickleball and why is it called that?

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball has actually been around for quite some time… however it has recently gained popularity. 

Pickleball is a sport that utilizes a court, net, paddles and a ball. 

It is a combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. 

Pickleball can be played 2 v 2 or 1 v 1. Doubles, or 2 v 2, is the more common way people play. 

What are basic pickleball rules?

One reason why pickleball has skyrocketed in popularity is because once you learn the basic pickleball rules, you are ready to play. 

People of all ages, sizes and shapes can play, and excel on the pickleball court. 

Pickleball Serving Rules

There are two main points when it comes to the serving rules in pickleball… 

  1. The serve must land in the box diagonal from the server. The ball CAN NOT land on the kitchen line or it will be a fault. However, the ball CAN land on the side, middle or back line.
  2. The server must have an underhand swing. Unlike tennis, the contact must be below the waist. The highest point of the paddle must be below the wrist of the server when contact is made.

Pickleball Returning Rules

The return is fairly straightforward… the only thing to remember here is that you have to let the ball bounce before returning the ball over the net.

“Two Bounce Rule”

The two bounce rule (sometimes called the double bounce rule) is where things start to get tricky… 

  1. the server serves the ball
  2. the returner lets the ball bounce (one bounce) and hits the ball back over to the serving team
  3. The serving team now has to let the ball bounce (two bounce) before hitting the ball
  4. After the two bounce rule, either team can hit the ball out of the air or let the ball bounce

Here is a little trick to remember “serve and stay back.” A lot of beginners tend to serve and run forward towards the net… forgetting they have to let the ball bounce.

Pickleball Kitchen Rule

If you’re reading this pickleball blog, I’m sure you’ve heard of the kitchen…

The kitchen might seem scary at first but it is where most of the action and strategy take place.

How big is the kitchen in pickleball you may wonder… the kitchen is the 7×20 area on both sides of the net.

It is a common misconception that you can’t go into the kitchen… but that is not true.

You can stand in the kitchen BUT 

  1. You CAN NOT hit the ball out of the air while standing in the kitchen or any part of your body is touching the kitchen
  2. It is a fault (other team gets the point) if the ball hits you while standing in the kitchen or any part of your body is touching the kitchen

This is why it is best practice to stand right behind the kitchen line so you can hit the ball out of the air… then if the ball bounces in the kitchen, you can step into the kitchen, hit the ball back over the net, and then step back to your position right behind the kitchen line.

“Double Bounce Rule”

As mentioned earlier, the two bounce rule and the double bounce rule are often used interchangeably… 

The double bounce rule is also in tennis and many other paddle sports… the double bounce rule simply states that if the ball bounces twice on your side of the court, the other team wins the point.

With these 5 basic pickleball rules, you are now ready to jump into the game. Here’s the cool thing about pickleball… people are very friendly and will love to help you. Dont stress if you don’t remember all of the rules. (It took me a month to remember the scoring rules… let the others keep score at the beginning so you can focus on learning the game and having fun!)

How did pickleball get its name?

There are many theories out there and I’m not going to act like I know the right answer… Here is what USA Pickleball has to say on the matter:

“In the summer of 1965, pickleball was founded by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Within days, Joan Pritchard had come up with the name “pickle ball”—a reference to the thrown-together leftover non-starters in the “pickle boat” of crew races.

Many years later, as the sport grew, a controversy ensued when a few neighbors said they were there when Joan named the game after the family dog, Pickles. Joan and the Pritchard family have held fast for decades that the dog came along a few years later and was named after the game.

It’s an undisputed fact that pickleball began, and was also named, in the summer of 1965 by Joan Pritchard. If Pickles was around then, the dog story could be true. If Pickles wasn’t born until after 1965, the dog story would be confirmed as just a funny newspaper interview hoax—later confessed by Joel Pritchard.

Proof of when Pickles was born could help resolve the two-story name debate. As the official magazine of pickleball, we decided to dig up the past and report the truth, regardless of the venerable feathers being ruffled. We looked for dog records, uncovered photos, and interviewed several people who were there from 1965-1970. Based on evidence, we learned that the dog was born in 1968—three years after pickleball was first played and named. In other words, the Pritchard family story stands true that pickleball was not named after the dog, but rather in reference to the local pickle boat races.” – usapickleball.com

Thanks for reading! I hope you learned a little bit about this great sport of pickleball from today’s article.

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