So you’ve never heard of pickleball, huh? Or maybe you have, but it was just in
passing and now you want to learn more? Well, you’re in luck! Here we will go over
a brief history of this fun and playful sport, as well as a little overview of how to play
pickleball—so you can be on your way to calling yourself a “pickler” in no time!
Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three fathers —Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and
Barney McCallum—whose kids were bored during their summer vacation and
looking for something to do. The property they were on had an old badminton court,
so Pritchard and Bell searched for some badminton equipment only to realize they
didn’t have a full set of rackets! They improvised and began playing with ping-pong
paddles instead, as well as a perforated plastic ball. As the weekend progressed,
they adjusted the height of the net and noticed that the plastic ball bounced well on
the asphalt surface of the court—so they settled on keeping the net at 36 inches.
Soon, these three men began creating the pickleball rules, relying heavily on the
sport they already knew—badminton. They always kept in mind the original purpose
though, which was to provide a game that the whole family could enjoy playing
Since then, pickleball has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple
fun into a popular sport all throughout the US and Canada. Fun, social, friendly, and
community building—these are just a few words to describe this fast growing sport!
The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but it can also
develop into a quick, fast-paced, and competitive game for the more experienced
players. Pickleball is an exciting sport that combines many elements of tennis,
badminton and ping-pong, and can be played both indoors and outdoors on a
badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net. When playing pickleball in
singles or doubles, each player will need a pickleball paddle—which is smaller than
a tennis racquet, but slightly larger than a ping-pong paddle. The ball that is used to
play is unique, with holes all throughout it, and different ball models are used for
indoor and outdoor play. When the game is on, players on each side of the net must
let the ball bounce once before volleys are allowed, and there is a seven-foot no-
volley zone on each side of the net to prevent “spiking”. The server continues to
serve, alternating service courts, until they fault. The first side to score eleven
points and are leading by at least two points wins!
Currently, the game of pickleball is exploding in popularity! The spread of this
exciting sport is attributed to its presence within community centers, PE classes,
YMCA facilities, and even retirement communities (since it can be enjoyed by all
ages and skill levels!). Pickleball continues to grow internationally as well, with
many European and Asian countries adding courts and forming clubs to join in on
the fun! Ready to get started too? Check with your local pickleball club, school, or
community recreation department for scheduled clinics—so you can learn to play
and get to volleying on the court with the best of them!