The Beginners’ Guide to Pickleball

What exactly is Pickleball? Why is it called Pickleball? Does it have anything to do with pickles at all? The list of questions could go on and on for this oddly named sport. Don’t worry if you’ve never played or heard of Pickleball before. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide to explain this interesting game. Here are the basics you need to know about Pickleball.

What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. The game is played on a badminton-sized court (20 x 44 feet) with the net lowered to 36 inches at the ends. Equipment includes wood or composite paddles and a plastic, perforated ball. Just like other paddle sports, Pickleball can be played in singles or doubles.

Where Did Pickleball Originate?

Pickleball originally started as two friends’ attempt to resolve their families’ summer boredom. During the summer of 1965, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell wanted to set up a badminton game since Pritchard’s home had an old court. However, they couldn’t find a complete set of badminton rackets. Using some creativity, they improvised with ping-pong paddles and a perforated ball instead. At first, they played the game with the net set at badminton height of 60 inches. After finding out that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface, they lowered the net to 36 inches. With their friend Barney McCallum, they established rules for the game and created Pickleball.

How Did Pickleball Get Its Name?

According to Pritchard’s family members, the unique name came from the family’s maritime pursuits. Joan Pritchard, Joel Pritchard’s wife, was a competitive rower on Bainbridge Island, WA. She told her husband that the game reminded her of the pickle boat in rowing. A pickle boat consists of oarsmen chosen from the leftovers of other boats. This is similar to how Pickleball includes many borrowed characteristics from other paddle sports.

Over the years, many news stories reported that Pritchard named the game after his dog, Pickles. The most common story was Pickles would chase after the balls and then hide in the bushes. As a result, he would refer to “Pickles’ ball,” which was later shortened to Pickleball. The Pritchard family disproved this story since they didn’t get Pickles until years after the creation of Pickleball.

How Do You Play Pickleball?

The game starts with the right-hand court serving the ball diagonally to the opponent’s court. The server must serve the ball under two criteria: underhand with their paddle below the waist and both feet behind the baseline. The serve needs to clear the net and the non-volley zone. This non-volley zone is 7-feet behind both sides of the net and prohibits players from hitting the ball before it’s bounced (or volleying).

Players on each side must make at least one groundstroke before volleys are allowed. After the double bounce rule, players can either volley the ball or play it off the bounce. Players can volley the ball so long as they’re not within the non-volley zone.

Points are scored by the serving side only and occur when the opponent faults. A fault includes failure to clear the net, hitting the ball out of bounds, and volleying from the non-volley zone or before the double bounce. The server continues to serve and alternate service courts until they fault. The first side scoring 11 points and leading with at least a 2-point margin wins the game.

Interested in learning more about Pickleball? Head over to Plaza Hotel & Casino to play the game on its newly added Pickleball courts. The Plaza is the only hotel and casino in Las Vegas with dedicated courts for Pickleball. Just recently, the Plaza hosted a Pickleball exhibition with players from the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). According to Jonathan Jossel, CEO of the Plaza, about 1,000 players have already signed up to play in upcoming Pickleball tournaments at the Plaza. The Pickleball courts will be open to the public later this summer. Be sure to stop by the Plaza and try out this fast growing sport for yourself!



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