This racket sport with a strange name has recently been blowing up all over the United States and for good reason. It's an incredibly fast paced game on a small court that doesn't take up much space. Plus, it's pretty cheap to get into!
It's crazy to think how fast pickleball is growing but it's actually been gaining over ten thousand new players every day start playing. Pickleball is one of those sports that is simple to get into and play but difficult to master.
The rules of pickleball are straight forward and easy to learn. There are some more intricate parts of the game like serving but we will get into that a bit later.
I suggest watching this video to learn the rules. Anything you're unclear on look for in the rules listed below the video.
The basics of the game are simple! There's a court with a net that looks much like a tennis court except about 25% the size.
- Players play with pickleball paddles not rackets. These paddles are made in an assortment of different styles from all kinds of materials including graphite and composite to name a couple.
- The ball is similar to a Wiffle Ball. Nearly identical with the only difference being minor changes to the materials its made from.
- You say the score in three parts. First, your score, then the other teams score, and finally, the server number. For example, if you have five points, the other team has three points and you're on the second server you'd say "five-three-two"
- At the start of the game the serving team only serves once. You start the game by calling out the score as "zero-zero-two" or "zero-zero-start" to indicate the beginning of serve & the game.
- Aside from the first serve of the game each team gets two serves per side. All lines are considered in play with the exception of the line that separates the kitchen from the rest of the court. This line is considered out of bounds on serves along with the kitchen.
- Your team only scores when your team is serving. If you win a point while the other team is serving you will cycle out their serves. For example, if the score is 1-1-1 and the other team is serving to you and you win the point the score now becomes 1-1-2 and the second player on their team serves. If you also win that point then the score goes back to 1-1-1 but you'll be serving and can get points.
- The ball is required to bounce two times on the court before it doesn't have to bounce again for that point. That will be once on the serve and once on the return of serve. After those two bounces the ball never has to touch the ground until the next point though it often will.
- Serves are all underhanded and the ball and paddle both have to be below your waist when you make contact on the serve.
- You can do drop serves. The ball can bounce up to twice before a fault occurs.
- There is an area called the kitchen or non-volley zone on both sides of the net that is 7x20 feet. You cannot be standing in this zone while hitting the ball unless the ball has bounced first.
Where to Play
Pickleball groups are all over right now. In Joplin, Missouri, where I live, you can find pickle ball at multiple places. Join the Joplin Pickleball Club Facebook page to stay up to date on pickleball in Joplin.
- Landreth Park - free & also the best place to play (not biased at all...)
- Carl Junction Community Center - courts are a more rubberized surface than a traditional pickleball court
- Joplin YMCA - Wood floors
- ETG or Elevate The Game - Wood floors
- Millennium Family Fitness - Great indoor pickleball courts but very overpriced
- 417 Athletics - Great indoor pickleball courts with affordable rates - in Mount Vernon (around 40 minutes from Joplin)
When it's warm outside there's no competition for what's the best place to play. It's Landreth Park in downtown Joplin. The community is good, it's free, courts are the best around, outdoor adds more factors into the mix like the sun and wind, and it has the highest competition level by far.
Unfortunately, when it's cold outside and Landreth isn't a viable place to play the next best place is debatable. Some people argue that CJ's Community center or the YMCA is the best. Others argue that Millennium is the best because their courts are nice. Some would rather drive to 417 Athletics instead of the alternatives because they have good quality of play, great courts, and affordable entry prices.
In my opinion Millennium is probably the best option for indoor play right now. Especially since they added a pickleball membership for $30 per month for the colder months.
Chances are anywhere you are in the United States there will be pickle ball around you. My suggestion would be to reach out to community centers, tennis clubs, and even churches to see if they have pickleball nights weekly. You'd be surprised most of them do!
Facebook groups & pages are another great place to look. In Joplin we have the Joplin Pickleball Club that posts when places are planning on playing every day of the week. They also talk about tournaments and discuss pickleball in general to some extent. There are a lot of Facebook groups like this all over the country. Chances are theres one around you!
Whose Plays Pickleball?
Well, with it being the fastest growing sport in the United States its not just any single demographic. It's an array of different people from all walks of life. Senior citizens are often the ones most credited with playing pickle ball; however, this isn't the case. At least, not anymore. Now, college students, high school students, tennis players, professional tennis players, ping pong players, people from 20-30 who work 9-5 jobs, and so many other groups all play pickle ball.
You're competitive...I get it! So am I. When I do something I want to be as good at it as I can.
Well, the good news is pickleball isn't just one of the fastest growing sports but it also has one of the fastest growing professional circuits out there. If you're looking to improve at pickleball checkout APPTV, PPA Tour, Global Pickleball, or Pickleball Channel to watch pro play.
Probably my favorite. I've always enjoyed watching someone do something and finding a tutorial on how to mimmic and learn it. There are a lot of channels out there that are great at teaching you everything from the basics to the more advanced things in pickleball.
There are tons of great YouTube channels to watch for tutorials and upping your game.
The most popular of these is PrimeTime Pickleball by far! It's one of my favorites and they've helped me with a lot of things in my pickleball game.
Pickleball tournaments are everywhere right now it seems and they're a great way to test your skill against other players in your area. In fact, all of those places I mentioned above that you can play at in Joplin have tournaments every couple of months.
You can find pickleball tournaments everywhere and signing up for them is pretty quick and easy too! The Pickleball Tournaments website is always a good place to look.
Wrapping It Up
If you're looking to get into pickle ball I'm sure it won't be too difficult to find a group to play with around your area. Pickleballs and paddles can be bought from most any sporting good retailer like Academy.
Thanks for reading as always. If you have any questions let me know. I look forward to seeing you all on the court!