Get in the Game: What is Pickleball and How to Get Started

  • Date: January 11, 2023
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Pickleball is a modern sport that has been gaining in popularity for its exciting mix of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. It’s easy to learn, fun for all ages and skill levels, and can be played indoors or outdoors. Plus, it’s super affordable with a minimal amount of equipment needed to get started.

In this article, we’ll look at what is pickleball, how it’s played, and the basics of getting started. We will also talk about some of the great benefits of this game, and the best places to find pickleball gear.

History of pickleball

Pickleball is basically the love child of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. It was invented in the 1960s by three friends looking for something to do on a lazy summer afternoon. They basically combined all of their favorite sports into one, and voilà! Pickleball was born.

Now, if you’re wondering where the weird name comes from, it’s because the original creators called it “pickleball” because… well, honestly, no one really knows. They just thought it was a funny name. But, who cares about the name when the game is this fun!

Pickleball is all about quick reflexes, good hand-eye coordination, and a lot of running around the court. It’s perfect for people of all ages and skill levels. You don’t have to be an athlete to play, but you’ll definitely feel like one after a game or two!

The game is played on a smaller court than tennis, but don’t be fooled – it’s still a pretty good workout. Plus, with the smaller court and slower moving ball, it’s a bit more accessible for newbies. Still, pickleball can be seriously competitive as well!

Now you know the background of pickleball and why it’s becoming increasingly popular. Fun, easy to learn, and open for all ages, it’s the perfect choice for anyone looking for a new and exciting way to stay active. So, grab your friends and head to the nearest pickleball court, the fun awaits!

The Basics of Pickleball

Alright, now that you’re all excited about pickleball, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty – the rules! Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s so simple, even a pickle could figure it out (see what I did there?)

First things first, the court. The court dimensions for pickleball are a little smaller than a tennis court, but it’s still big enough for you to burn off that burrito you had for lunch. Typically, the court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, with a 7-foot no-volley zone near the net. It’s also divided into two halves with a net in the middle. The net is lower than a tennis net, so you’ll have to do a little less jumping around.

The court can be either indoor or outdoor, it’s usually marked with lines like a tennis court and the surface can be anything from wood or concrete to sand or grass.

Now, on to scoring. You score a point every time your opponents are unable to return the ball over the net, or if they hit it out of bounds. The game is played to 11, 15 or 21 points, and you must win by 2. The game starts with one player serving the ball from the right-hand side of the court, and it must go over the net and land in the opponent’s court. The first server is chosen randomly, and then they switch after each point. Just like in tennis, it’s all about that sweet, sweet serve.

Pickleball uses the side-out scoring system, which means only the serving team may win a point. Some people talk about moving to rally scoring, which is when each team can score a point, but, for now, we’re stuck with the side-out system.

Pickleball equipment

Ready to get in the game? All you need is some pickleball equipment! At its most basic, you’ll need a net, pickleball paddles, and some pickleballs.

Of course, you can also get fancier stuff like specialized pickleball shoes and apparel, but those aren’t necessary for your first game. Comparing to other sports, pickleball equipment is relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Plus, most places will have rental equipment, so you don’t need to commit to buying your own stuff on the first go-around.

Let’s start with the net. Pickleball nets are typically a few inches lower than those used in tennis, and they’re also smaller. You’ll need one that’s at least 20′ long and 34” high in the center.

Next, you’ll need some paddles. Pickleball paddles are like mini-tennis racquets, but they’re made out of different materials, like graphite and aluminum. Most paddles also have a textured surface, which helps spin the ball. The size and weight of a paddle will affect how well you can hit the ball, so find one that’s comfortable for you.

Finally, pickleball is all about the balls! Pickleballs are similar to wiffle balls, but they’re made out of hard plastic and have holes all over them. These little guys are light and bouncy, so they don’t go as far as tennis balls. That makes them great for beginners!

Pickleball strategies

Now that you have all your equipment, it’s time to get down to the game. Pickleball is a lot like tennis with some extra rules and techniques thrown in. One of the most important strategies is to keep the ball low, because it’s more difficult for your opponents to return it.

Tracking the ball is another key skill. You have to be constantly aware of where the ball is and where it might go next. This will help you set up your shot and anticipate your opponents’ moves.

Here are some of the basic shots you can use in your first pickleball game:

  • The Lob: A lob is when you hit the ball high over your opponent’s head. It gives you time to get back into position and set up for a return shot.
  • The Drop Shot: A drop shot is a low, soft shot that barely clears the net and drops near your opponent’s feet. It can be very effective if your opponent is expecting a long lob.
  • The Serve: A good serve sets the tone for the entire point. You can use different spin techniques to make the ball travel in different directions.
  • The Volley: A volley is when you hit the ball without it bouncing on your side of the court. It needs to be done quickly, so you can put your opponents on the defensive.
  • The Return: A good return keeps your opponents on their toes and can lead to an easy point.
  • The Drive: If you want to be more aggressive in pickleball, the drive is the shot for you. This is a powerful shot that goes straight down the court and is difficult to return. Use it when your opponents are off balance or out of position.

These shots, combined with a good strategy, are the key to a successful pickleball game. If you want to surprise your friends and become a pickleball master, you can always make your own pickleball wall and practice your shots and volleys in privacy.

The Benefits of Playing Pickleball

Pickleball is great for your overall health! It improves your cardiovascular health as you move around the court, build endurance, and increase your heart rate while having fun with friends. A game of pickleball also has a surprising calories burning rate, making it a great way to stay fit.

Playing pickleball improves balance by requiring quick changes of direction as you move around the court. Furthermore, it helps with osteoporosis and builds strong bones as it is a weight-bearing exercise.

You will gain more strength in your arms and legs as you hit the ball back and forth across the net. And last but not least, playing pickleball increases hand-eye coordination as you make contact with the ball using paddles instead of racquets like in tennis or badminton. 

Social Benefits of Pickleball 

One of the best things about pickleball is that it’s such a social game! It’s easy to find friendly people who play at your local courts or recreation centers—especially if there are regular tournaments held in your area.

If you join a pickleball club, you can practice different skills while meeting new people each time you play! Additionally, playing pickleball regularly will help you build relationships with other players over time, and who knows? You may even find yourself joining up with them for other activities outside the game itself.

From physical fitness to socializing, pickleball has numerous benefits that can be enjoyed by everyone! Whether you’re looking for some low-impact exercise or just want an enjoyable way to spend time with friends, pickleball can provide both experiences in one activity!

Pickleball and other sports

Some people play pickleball in order to improve their skills in other sports. For example, if you play tennis or badminton, playing pickleball can help you develop different techniques and strategies that can help you win more matches.

There are also some ideas that pickleball is actually killing tennis. This is because some players find pickleball to be a more relaxed and less competitive form of tennis, meaning they are more likely to stick with it over time. If you compare pickleball to tennis, you may think they have a lot of similarities. Both sports are played on a court and involve a net, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Pickleball is a much quicker game with a slower-moving ball, which makes it a bit more accessible for new players. Plus, the smaller court size means you don’t have to run as much, which is always a plus in my book.

Pickleball is a great way to introduce children to the concepts and techniques of racquet sports. Since it’s easier and less intense than some other sports, it can be a great way for kids to learn the basics of the game.

Comparing to badminton, pickleball paddles are bigger and heavier than badminton rackets, so it’s a bit more of a workout for your arms. But keep in mind that both require quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination.

Pickleball also has some similarities to racquetball and squash, so if you enjoy either of those sports, pickleball can be a great way to practice your technique or have some fun with friends.

Is pickleball a dangerous racquet sport?

Pickleball is generally considered a relatively safe sport, but like any racquet sport, there is a small risk of injury. Most pickleball injuries are minor and involve strains or sprains to the muscles and joints. However, more serious injuries, such as rotator cuff injuries or head injuries, can occur if players are not careful.

To reduce the risk of injury while playing pickleball, it is important to warm up and stretch properly before playing, use proper technique when hitting the ball, and be aware of your surroundings on the court to avoid collisions with other players or obstacles. It’s also recommended to use appropriate foot wear and gear to protect your joints and muscles.

Being a low-impact sport and easy on the joints, it makes it a great option for older adults and those recovering from injuries or surgeries. It’s important to know your limits and play within them and to avoid overdoing it when playing the game.

How to Get Involved in Pickleball

One of the best ways to get started with pickleball is to find courts near you. Local parks, fitness centers, recreation centers, and even residential communities often have courts available. Many organizations also host tournaments or leagues that you can join. To find pickleball courts near you, check out the USAPA website or search online for local pickleball groups in your area. 

Pickleball tournaments

If you want to take your pickleball game up a notch, consider joining tournaments or other special events. There are plenty of options available, from beginner-level social events to competitive tournaments with cash prizes. Finding your level is an important part of the process, so you can find events that suit your skills and goals.

When looking for a tournament, research which rules are used and the format of play. You can also check out reviews to get an idea of how players felt about the tournament or event.

Improving Your Pickleball Skills 

No matter what level you are—beginner or advanced—there are always ways to improve your skills when it comes to pickleball. Taking lessons from experienced players is one great way to build confidence while learning proper technique and strategy.

Watching instructional videos online is another great option because it allows you to practice at your own pace and learn from experts in the field.

Whichever method(s) you choose for improving your skills, remember that practice makes perfect! The more time you spend practicing and honing your skills, the better player you will become over time. 

Pickleball offers lots of opportunities for beginners as well as experienced athletes. With some research into local courts, tournaments, and other events, plus plenty of practice, anyone can become an expert at this growing sport!


Pickleball is a great community sport, and people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds can get involved. Look for pickleball clubs and organizations in your area to meet new people and find players who are at your skill level.

If you are a professional player, pickleball can also be a great way to give back to your community. Contact your local parks department or recreation center to see if you can help organize tournaments, teach classes, or offer other ways to support the sport.

No matter how you choose to get involved, pickleball is an exciting sport that can bring people together and create lasting connections.


Pickleball is a fun and engaging sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It’s easy to learn, and it provides an enjoyable way to stay active while enjoying time with friends or making new ones.

Pickleball is also low-impact, so it’s perfect for those looking to get involved in a sport without putting too much strain on their joints. With plenty of courts, tournaments, and other events available, pickleball is a great option for everyone from beginners to experienced players. So grab some paddles and join the pickleball revolution

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