Looking to find a new way to get active and keep fit in 2021? As many of us prepare to enter a brand-new year, it’s the classic time to make plans, set goals, and decide upon those all-important resolutions, and whether you’re looking to transform your health or simply shake up your routine, Pickleball is the name on everyone’s lips.
If you’re sick of repetitive gym routines or working out at home, then taking up a game sport is the perfect way to inject a little bit of fun back into the process, and will allow you burn calories and tone those muscles without even noticing.
With over 2.8 million players in the US alone, the surging professional game of Pickleball has won itself a legion of loyal fans, and is fast making its way to the UK. One of the fastest growing sports in North America, it has fast become a phenomenon – and thanks to an increase in TV contracts and professional endorsements, along with large prize purses and incentive pools, predictions indicate that the game is set to go global.
It’s only a matter of time before the trend reaches British shores, so if you’re keen to be one of the first to try it, then here’s all you need to know to get started, courtesy of the experts at Pickleball Guide.
What is Pickleball?
A paddleball sport that combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton, Pickleball is a court game that requires two or four players. Each uses a solid paddle made from wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, which features numerous small round holes, over a net.
The game began back in the 1950s, when three fathers – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum – encouraged their children to go and burn off some energy playing on a Badminton court with some ping pong paddles. They lowered the net and used a wiffle-style ball, and from there, began to determine some rules.
Accounts differ on the origin of the game’s name, but one suggests that it was chosen in honour of the Pritchards’ family dog, Pickles.
How to play Pickleball
For those who are already a fan of court games, a Pickleball match offers an exciting alternative. All you’ll need to get started is a paddle, a pickleball and some sensible footwear.
Pickleballs are specified for either indoor or outdoor use, so make sure to choose the right type for where you plan to play. The game works on an ‘open play’ scenario, whereby players rotate between partners and courts.
In casual settings, as with any sport, players act as their own referees. If a ball lands on any part of the line, it is considered in and still a live ball, so players should call in or out verbally or with hand signals. Pointing upward indicates out and signalling with your palm facing the ground means in.
The rules of Pickleball are many – and Pickleball Guide’s website will give you the finer details – but a basic understanding will be enough to get you started.
Points are only scored by the serving team, with games played to 11 points and a majority by two required to win.
At the beginning, the player on the right side of the court serves. If, at that point, a score is served, the server moves to the left side of the court and serves again, with this process continuing as long as points continue to be scored. However, once the serving team misses out on a point, the priority switches over to the other team. In doubles, both players on the serving team serve and score points until they commit a fault.
When a ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning it, and the same applies the opposite way around. A double bounce eliminates the serve, and play passes over to the opposite team. If a player steps into the non-volley zone while volleying the Pickleball, this is considered a fault.
The bottom line
If you’re looking to take up a new sport in 2021, then make it Pickleball. A social sport that can be played at a safe social distance, it’s a great choice to see you through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and is expected to sweep the nation as the key sporting and fitness trends of the year.