From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Pickleball Pros.jpg
Highest governing bodyInternational Federation of Pickleball[1]
First played1965, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Team membersSingles or doubles
Mixed genderYes, separate singles and doubles & mixed doubles
Equipmentplastic pickleball and composite or wooden paddle
VenueIndoor or outdoor badminton court with a tennis type net

Pickleball (sometimes spelled Pickle-Ball) is a paddleball sport (similar to a racket sport) that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis.[3] Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, much like a wiffle ball,[4] with 26–40 round holes, over a net. The sport shares features of other racket sports: the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules somewhat similar to tennis, with several modifications.

Pickleball was invented in the mid-1960s as a children's backyard game.[5] The spread of the sport is attributed to its popularity within community centers, physical education classes, public parks, private health clubs, YMCA facilities and retirement communities. There are thousands of pickleball tournaments throughout the United States, including the U.S. Pickleball National Championships and U.S. Open Pickleball Championship, as well as numerous international championships.


The game started during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the home of Joel Pritchard, who later served in Congress and as lieutenant governor.[6] He and two of his friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon.[7] They attempted to set up badminton, but no one could find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a wiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.[8][9][10]

McCallum made the first paddles that were specifically for pickleball on his basement bandsaw. He tried several alternative paddles, but one he called “M2” became the paddle of choice for most players.[5] In 1972, McCallum incorporated Pickle-Ball, Inc. and manufactured wooden paddles to help grow the sport. His son David McCallum now runs the business, which is headquartered in Kent, Washington.[11]

Some sources claim that the name "Pickleball" was derived from that of the Pritchard's family dog, Pickles, or from the term "pickle boat".[8][10] According to Joan Pritchard, Joel Pritchard's wife, “The name of the game became Pickle Ball after I said it reminded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Somehow the idea the name came from our dog Pickles was attached to the naming of the game, but Pickles wasn’t on the scene for two more years. The dog was named for the game, but stories about the name’s origin were funnier thinking the game was named for the dog."[12]

Pickleball grew from the early 1970s kits circulated by Pickle-Ball, Inc. in the Pacific Northwest into warmer areas as "snowbirds" from the area migrated south to Arizona, California, Hawaii and Florida. Early sponsorship also came from "Thousand Trails" a Seattle company which installed courts along the West Coast. The U.S Pickleball National Championships are held near Palm Springs, California co-hosted by Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle and owner of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where they have been played since 2018.[13] They had been previously played in Arizona, from 2009 to 2017. The tournament has the oversight of the U.S.A Pickleball Association, itself reincorporated with an updated rule book in 2005 after its foundation in 1984.[14] [15] The U.S Open Pickleball Championships are played in another hub of Pickleball, Naples, Florida, and started in 2016.[16] Estimates for active players have grown to 3.3 million in 2019 up 10% from 2016. [17]

Dimensions of a Pickleball court

In 2002, Glendolyn Sanchez-Vicario III brought pickleball to the international stage when he represented Spain in the Special Olympics. As of 2021, there were 57 member countries for pickleball in addition to USA Pickleball Association, overseen by the International Federation of Pickleball.[18]

According to a March 2021 BBC News article, the number of Americans who have started this sport increased by 21.3% in 2020. Stu Upson, Chief Executive of USA Pickleball, said that "there are 37 countries that are part of the International Federation of Pickleball. That's more than double where it was 18 months ago."[7]


Aerial view of Pickleball courts in Florida

The pickleball court[19] is similar to a doubles badminton court. The regulation size of the court is 20 feet by 44 feet for both doubles and singles. The net is hung at 36 inches on the ends and 34 inches at center. The court is lined like a badminton court, but the serving line is seven (7) feet from the net (six inches further than the badminton service line). The pickleball serving line is part of the non-volley-zone or "kitchen", which extends seven (7) feet from either side of the net.[20]



The ball is served with an underarm stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level) in an upward arc. The server hits from behind the baseline on one side of the center line and aims diagonally to the opponent's service court (as in the "court dimensions" figure).

Only the serving side may score a point. Play ends for a point when one side commits a fault.[21] Faults include:

  • not hitting the serve into the opponent's diagonal service court
  • not hitting the ball beyond the net
  • not hitting the ball before the 2nd bounce on one side of the net
  • hitting the ball out of bounds
  • volleying the ball on the service return
  • volleying the ball on the first return by the serving side
  • stepping into the non-volley zone (the first seven feet from the net, also known as the 'kitchen') in the act of volleying the ball.
  • touching the net with any body part, paddle, or assistance device

A player may enter the non-volley zone to play a ball that bounces and may stay there to play balls that bounce.[20]: A-22  The player must exit the non-volley zone before playing a volley.

The first side scoring 11 points leading by at least two points wins the game. If the two sides are tied at 10 points apiece, the side that goes ahead by two points wins the game.[22]

Tournament games may be played to 11, 15 or 21 points with players rotating sides at 6, 8 or 11 total points respectively.

The server, or server and partner, usually stay at the baseline until the first return has been hit back and has bounced once.

At the beginning of a doubles game, before any serving, the score is 0–0. Then the side serving first gets only one fault before their side is out, meaning that their opponents serve next. After the first fault, each side gets 2 faults (one for each team member serving) before their side is "out".

In singles play, each side gets only one fault before a side is out and the opponent then serves. The server's score will always be even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10...) when serving from the right side, and odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9...) when serving from the left side.[20]: A-15 

Service IN

As the game is relatively new, rule modifications are being made frequently. For instance, in 2021 a rule change was made for a "net serve," so that a serve that touches the top of the net and lands in the proper service court is no longer replayed.[23] The previous rule on a "let serve" was borrowed from tennis, where a "let" call is always replayed.


Para-Pickleball, sometimes called adaptive or wheelchair pickleball, was officially recognized as a competitive branch of Pickleball by the United States of America Pickleball Association in 2016. Rules for those in wheelchairs are similar to the standard rules with minor alternatives. The player's wheelchair is considered to be part of the player's body and all applicable rules that usually apply to the body will also apply to the player's wheelchair. A pickleball player in a wheelchair is allowed two bounces instead of the one a standup player would receive. When a player in a wheelchair is serving the ball, they must be in a stationary position. They are then allowed one push before striking the ball for service. When the player strikes the ball, the wheels of the wheelchair must not touch any baselines, sidelines, center lines or the extended center or sidelines. When there is a mixed game of those in wheelchairs and those standing, the applicable rules apply for those players respectively. Standing players will adhere to the standing pickleball rules and the wheelchair players will adhere to the wheelchair pickleball rules.[24][25]

International status[edit]

Pickleball is not an Olympic sport or event.[26] Despite having been played for 56 years, pickleball is not yet played widely outside North and South America. The International Federation of Pickleball has 57 national member organizations.[27]


Service OUT
Video of a Pickleball game
Around-the-post, ATP
A shot that travels outside the net posts, allowing its trajectory to stay below the height of the net.[24]: 46 
The line at the back of the pickleball court (22 feet from the net).[20]: A-4 
A hard shot that hits the top of the net (i.e. the tape) and then lands in play on the opponent's side of the court. A bash is typically unintentional and very difficult to return as the ball changes speed and/or direction due to contact with the net.
A pickleballer returning a serve with backhand.
Hitting the ball in such a way that it does not bounce away from the paddle but tends to be carried along on the face of the paddle. This is a fault.
The line bisecting the service courts that extends from the non-volley line to the baseline.[20]: A-4 
The opponent's court diagonally opposite a player's.
A dink is a soft shot, made with the paddle face open, and hit so that it just clears the net and drops into the non-volley zone.[20]: 52 
A volley hit near the net by a player positioned outside the court or in the process of leaping outside the court. A legally executed erne shot allows a player to hit the ball closer to the net without stepping in the non-volley zone.
An infringement of the rules that ends the rally.[20]: xxii 
Foot fault
Stepping on or into the non-volley zone while volleying a ball, or, while serving, failure to keep both feet behind the baseline with at least one foot in contact with the ground or floor when the paddle contacts the ball.[20]: xxii, 61, A-11 :
A chant historically called by serving players when the score is 9-5 in their favor to bring good luck to end the game.
Gentleman's rally
A rally mostly made up of soft returns and easy to return volley hits.
A type of hit where the player hits the ball immediately after it has bounced in an almost scoop-like fashion.
The non-volley zone which is seven feet from the net on both sides is commonly referred to as "the kitchen". Players may not enter the kitchen in the act of volleying the ball.[24]: 37 
Hitting the ball in a high arc to the back of the opponent's court. Ideally designed to clear an opponent who has advanced toward the net.
Nasty Nelson
A serve that intentionally hits the non-receiving opposing player closest to the net, rewarding the point to the server.
Non-volley zone
A seven-foot area adjacent to the net within which one may not volley the ball. The non-volley zone includes all lines around it.[20]: A-4  Also called the "kitchen".
When a player hits a ball out of the pickleball court's entire boundaries, such as over the fences.
In doubles, to cross over into one's partner's area to make a play on the ball.
Hitting the ball back and forth between opposite teams.
Serve, service
An underarm lob or drive stroke used to put a ball into play at the beginning of a point.
Server number
When playing doubles, either "1" or "2", depending on whether one is the first or second server for one's side. This number is appended to the score when it is called, as in "the score is now 4–2, second server".
The line at the side of the court denoting in- and out-of-bounds.[20]: A-4 
When the serve moves to the opponent's side.
To hit the ball before it touches the ground and bounces.

Noise controversy[edit]

In September 2020, one park in the Portland metropolitan area had to institute a ban on pickleball, despite having just installed new pickleball courts 5 months before. Residents nearest to the pickleball courts said they were unable to hold conversations inside their homes due to the noise from the pickleball courts. Despite the ban, the next year people were still making use of the pickleball courts. In June 2021, at a West Linn City Council meeting, one nearby resident said the noise had made family gatherings become "wrought with discord and physically debilitating stress." At least one resident described the noise as "trauma-inducing".[28]


  1. ^ "International Federation of Pickleball - IFP". www.ifpickleball.org.
  2. ^ "Philippine Pickleball Federation - Lets play, dink and enjoy the game!". Philippine Pickleball Federation.
  3. ^ Pritchard, Joan (July 22, 2008). "Pickle Ball Featured on the Morning show". The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  4. ^ "Ball List | Paddle and Ball Site". Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Kane, David (October 21, 2015). "Food for Thought:The Evolution and Growth of Pickleball". Tennis.com. The Tennis Media Company. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  6. ^ Lyons, Gil (August 24, 1990). "Pickle-ball: Founders of game say paddle sport simply is a barrel of fun". The Seattle Times. p. C7. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Pickleball: The racquet sport experiencing a pandemic boom". Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Pritchard, Joan (July 27, 2008). "Origins of Pickleball". The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
  9. ^ "How Pickle-ball Came to Be". The Official Pickleball Website. Pickleball Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "The History of Pickleball". Hoffman Estates Pickleball. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  11. ^ "Pickleball Paddles by Pickle-ball, Inc. | Free Shipping Offer!". www.pickleballpaddlesplus.com.
  12. ^ "History of the Game". Official USAPA Website. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  13. ^ "Pickleball began on Bainbridge Island..." Seattle Times. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  14. ^ "U.S. National Pickleball Championships". USA Pickleball Association. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  15. ^ "USA Pickleball/IFP Official Rules". USA Pickleball Association. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  16. ^ "History". Spirit Promotions. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  17. ^ "Pickleball Participation Report 2019". The Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  18. ^ "Member Countries". International Federation of Pickleball. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  19. ^ "All About Pickleball Court Dimensions". The Pickleball Paddle USA Website. The Pickleball Paddle Inc. June 11, 2018. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Leach, Gale H. (2013). The Art of Pickleball (4th ed.). Two Cats Press.
  21. ^ "Pickleball Guide". Indoored.com. Indoored Inc. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "How to Play the Game". The Official Pickleball Website. Pickleball Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  23. ^ https://usapickleball.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Updated-2021-Change-Document-FINAL.pdf
  24. ^ a b c "Official Tournament Rulebook" (PDF). International Federation of Pickleball. 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  25. ^ USA Pickleball Official Rules
  26. ^ "Olympic Charter" (PDF).
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ "West Linn neighbors at odds as park's pickleball ban flouted". Pamplin Media Group. Retrieved July 12, 2021.

External links[edit]