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What is Pickleball?

What is Pickleball? Get in the know about the UK's newest and most entertaining racket sport.

What would you do with a pickleball? If you already know, then you're ahead of the curve! 

Fastpaced, quick to pick up, fun and sociable, pickleball is the next big thing in racket sports. It's already a sensation on the other side of the Atlantic with tournaments and a National Championship in the USA. The sport first hit the UK in 2015 and has been growing in popularity ever since. 
Get the key facts on pickleball in our quick guide below - we think you'll want to give it a go when you hear how easy it is to play a satisfying game...

The court

Play singles or double on a hard indoor or outdoor court the same size as badminton doubles court. Use a net similar to a tennis net - it's 34 inches high in the centre. Find the full specification for a pickleball court here

The kit
Each player needs a pickleball paddle - they have short handles but a larger and more flexible hitting surface than table tennis bats. You'll also need a Wiffle ball - a special plastic ball with holes in to hit across the net. Lighter balls are used for indoor play: there are slightly heavier balls for outdoors. Wear sports shoes suitable for an indoor or outdoor court.

Who can play?
Players of any age or skill. It's a great sport for family and friends of mixed abilities. Buying a bundle of basic equipment can be a cost-effective way to get everyone started. For capable racket sport players it's a chance to use your skills in a new and fast-paced environment. It doesn't take long to grasp the key techniques, so you can enjoy a satisfying game at any level.

The rules
  • For a casual game, the first player or pair to 11 points with two in hand is the winner.
  • Start a game by serving underarm from the right-hand court. Move between alternate sides after that. There are no second serves.
  • There's a non-volley zone seven feet either side of the net - it's referred to as 'the kitchen'!
  • The service ball must bounce in the receiving court beyond the non-volley zone before it's returned, then it must also bounce in the service court before it can be returned again. This is call the two-bounce rule. 
  • After than, the rally can continue with any combination of volleys (except in the kitchen) and groundstrokes. 
  • Only the server or serving pair can win a point. If they fault the serve goes across to the opponent.
  • In doubles, player one serves until they fault. Their partner then serves until they fault. Service then passes to the opponents, who also both get a turn to serve, in the same way.
Those are the basics - for a more detailed set of rules visit the USA Pickleball official site

Where to play
There are over 80 venus for pickleball in the UK and the number is growing all the time. Leisure centres, racket sport centres (including some David Lloyd clubs) and sports halls are getting in on the act to meet the demand for new players.
You can also give pickleball a go on a badminton or tennis court. Or if you have flat space in your yard, driveway or a reception area, you could mark out a temporary pickleball court with chalk or tape and bring a portable net. 

Find a pickleball club and courts on the official Pickleball England website

Where to play
Want to see some pickleball players in action? Check out Pickleball England's tournament and event calender for live play. Or enjoy some skilful performances on-screen on the Pickleball Global YouTube channel.

8 October 2020

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