Pickleball is a fast-paced paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels. It is designed to be easy to learn and play but can develop into a quick, intense game of strategy (and plenty of fun).
What are the origins of pickleball?
The history of pickleball is very simple, especially if you know that it was inspired by tennis, badminton, and ping pong. A group of friends were looking for an activity that was laid back (but still competitive), could be played with one or more players on both sides of the net (back and forth like traditional doubles tennis), had low barriers to entry (like ping pong)… they wanted something “fun” and “pickle” like.
The game was named after one of these friends who had a playful personality – pickle. The rest, as they say, is history.
What do you need to play?
All you really need to get started playing pickleball is a paddle and a ball. You can find equipment at most sporting goods stores, or online. If you want to get really serious about the game, there are some court dimensions you should be aware of (see below).
How do you play pickleball?
There are a variety of ways to play pickleball, but the most popular way is two people on each side of the net, playing back and forth just like in tennis. As with tennis, you score points by getting the ball over to the other side – however, with pickleball, this is a bit easier. The playing area is roughly half the size of a tennis court, but with no lines. This means that as long as your paddle touches the ball above net height on your side of the court it can be played without restriction on where it lands.
In addition to singles play, pickleball also offers doubles play, and mixed doubles play (one male player/one female player). There are a variety of rules governing how these games are played, so if you want to learn more about those or get involved in playing them at UCSD please come out to one of our meetings!
What kind of paddle should I get?
One of the great things about pickleball is that there are a lot of options for equipment, and it’s easy to see why. Paddles range from $15-$75 depending on how much you want to spend… but before you go out and buy one here are some guidelines:
For your first paddle, just use a regular tennis or ping pong racket that has a flat side (or can be laid flat) not pictured above. As long as your hand gets near the top of the net when you hit the ball, you will be fine.
If you don’t have access to a racket like this or really want to get into playing professionally, get yourself a “wood” paddle. These paddles are made of materials like wood, graphite, or composites and will last a long time.
“Pickleball-only” paddles are just that – designed specifically for the game of pickleball. These paddles are heavier than a tennis or ping pong paddle, but offer more control and power over the ball.
There are also a variety of “novelty” paddles on the market, like this one with a built-in handle (left). While these can be fun to play with, they usually don’t have the same level of quality as other paddles and may not be as durable.