Finding a new game to play with friends and family that isn’t difficult to pick up anywhere used be tough. But thanks to the rise in popularity of pickleball, getting competitive while having fun is now easier than ever. Here’s everything you need to know about the game of pickleball and how it has seemingly risen from obscurity to one of the most popular sports in the country.
What Is Pickleball?
The game of pickleball is best described as a combination between tennis, badminton, and ping pong. How are all three incorporated? The game is played on a badminton-sized court. The net is low similar to tennis, but instead of playing with rackets, you play with large paddles and a wiffle ball.
Since the 1960s, families, students, and campgoers have been playing the game of pickleball wherever they can find enough space, whether that’s the driveway, at the YMCA, or even during school gym class.
What Do You Need to Play Pickleball?
To effectively play the game of pickleball, you’ll need just a few items:
- 1 or 2 wiffle balls (in case one gets lost or smashed)
- 2 to 4 paddles, depending if you want to play singles or doubles
- A net, or some equivalent to a net
- An open area to make a court
There are relatively inexpensive ways to get the equipment you need, as well as some more expensive options. To play pickleball, you don’t need the most expensive items to have fun. As long as you have enough equipment for everyone involved, playing pickleball will be as enjoyable as you make it.
Why Has Pickleball Become So Popular?
Even though the sport has been around for over 50 years now, pickleball has only recently become popular. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing sports across the country, but it’s not because of a flashy player everyone has heard of or millions of dollars in prize money. Instead, it’s for much simpler reasons.
Unlike other outdoor sports like baseball, tennis, soccer, or even football, the cost of getting started and continuing to play pickleball is affordable. While you may want to go out and buy professional equipment, you don’t have to. You can easily make do with the less expensive items and enjoy every minute just the same.
It’s a Social Game
Everyone loves a good game where you can have a good time in between points and not feel like you’re holding everyone up. With pickleball, you can take as much time as you need while never being too far away from other players to really have some fun.
Pickleball is one of those sports that doesn’t require you to be a certain age, be of a certain skill level, or have any training. If you’ve ever played ping pong, even if that means you’ve just volleyed back and forth slowly, pickleball is for you.
The only rules of the game that may be confusing are that you’re not allowed to play a ball without it bouncing first (like ping pong), and you can’t play the ball in the no-volley zone, which is a box that spans across the court and extends seven feet from the net. Other than that, scoring goes up by one point, and you can set your own score to play to or play to 11, which is seen as a standard score.
It’s Easy on Your Body
Best of all, pickleball is a low-impact sport that’s easy on your body. Unlike tennis where you’re covering a lot of ground and making hard stops—which can be difficult on your knees, ankles, and hips—pickleball requires less forceful movements. You can also save your shoulder, as serving is done underhand or sidearm, which is a more natural motion for your arm.
With less stress on your body, and by playing at a slower pace, pickleball is a popular sport among people in their 50s and 60s because it won’t leave them feeling sore or elevate heart rates above safe levels. You can play at the pace that’s comfortable for you and that keeps you moving.
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