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Why is it called pickleball? And How to Play it?

Love doing pickleball? Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is typically played on a rectangular court with a net in the middle, and it can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. The game is known for its accessibility to players of various ages and skill levels, making it a popular recreational activity.

The name "pickleball" has an interesting origin. The game was created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA, by three friends: Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The game started as a casual activity to entertain their families. As the story goes, the name "pickleball" is attributed to the Pritchard family's dog, Pickles. According to one of the founders, the dog would chase after the balls and hide them in the bushes, leading to the choice of the name "pickleball."

While the name's origin is often associated with a pet dog, it's important to note that there is some debate and uncertainty surrounding the precise details of how the name was coined. Regardless of its origins, pickleball has grown in popularity over the years and has become a widely enjoyed sport with an enthusiastic community of players around the world.

Pickleball Game Setup and Basic Rules

Here's a basic overview of how to play pickleball:


  • A pickleball court (similar in size to a badminton court).
  • A pickleball net, which is slightly lower than a tennis net.
  • Paddles, similar to oversized table tennis paddles but made of a solid material (usually wood or composite).
  • A plastic pickleball, which has small holes like a wiffle ball.

Game Setup

Pickleball can be played as a singles (1 vs. 1) or doubles (2 vs. 2) game. Doubles is the most common format.

The court is divided into two sides, each with a non-volley zone near the net, also known as the "kitchen."

A player from one side serves the ball diagonally to the opposing side, and the game begins.

Basic Rules

  • The serve must be made underhand and cross-court (diagonally) to the opponent's service box.
  • The receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning the serve.
  • Once the ball has bounced on each side, players may either volley it (hit it in the air without letting it bounce) or let it bounce before hitting it.
  • Players must stay out of the non-volley zone when volleying the ball. They can step into the non-volley zone after the ball has bounced.
  • Points are scored by the serving team. The first side to reach 11 points, with a two-point lead, wins the game.


In pickleball, only the serving team can score points. The serving team continues to serve until they commit a fault (e.g., hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net).

If the serving team wins the rally, they earn a point and continue to serve from the same side.

If the receiving team wins the rally, they do not earn a point but have the opportunity to serve next.

Winning the Game

In standard pickleball, the first team to reach 11 points with a two-point lead wins the game. However, some variations play to 15 or 21 points.


There is no rotation of players like in tennis. The same player continues to serve until their team faults, at which point the opponents serve.

Pickleball is known for its emphasis on strategy, quick reflexes, and positioning. Players aim to maintain control of the non-volley zone while keeping their opponents on the defensive. It's a social and enjoyable sport that can be played by people of all ages and skill levels. The rules may vary slightly in informal or recreational games, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific rules if you're playing in an organized setting.

When did pickleball become popular? 

Pickleball began as a casual backyard game in the mid-1960s and gradually gained popularity over the years. It was created by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965. Initially, it was meant to be a game for the founders' families to enjoy, and it was played with improvised equipment, including ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.

The game's popularity spread through word of mouth and informal play within the local community. As it gained momentum, the founders developed specific rules and equipment for the game. In 1967, the first pickleball set was sold, and the first pickleball tournament was held in the Seattle area.

Pickleball's appeal continued to grow in the United States, particularly among older adults looking for a fun and accessible physical activity. It was seen as a low-impact sport that could be enjoyed by people of various ages and skill levels. The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was founded in 1984 to promote and organize the sport, and it has since become the governing body for pickleball in the United States.

In the 2000s and 2010s, pickleball's popularity expanded even further, with more people taking up the sport and organized tournaments drawing increasing numbers of participants. It has also gained international recognition, with players and enthusiasts in countries around the world.

Today, pickleball is a widely enjoyed paddle sport with a thriving community of players and a growing number of clubs, facilities, and tournaments. Its popularity continues to rise, making it one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and beyond.

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