Pickleball Paddleball sport combining elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis

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Pickleball Players.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
VenueIndoor or outdoor badminton court with a tennis type net

Pickleball is a paddleball sport (similar to a racquet sport) that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis.[2] Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, much like a wiffle ball,[3] with 26-40 round holes, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet 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.[4] Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. 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 multiple tournaments played each year both within the United States: The U.S Pickleball National Championships and U.S Open Pickleball Championships 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.[5] He and two of his friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They attempted to set up badminton, but no one could find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a perforated plastic ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.[6][7][8]

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.[9] 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.[10]

Some sources claim that the name "Pickleball" was derived from that of the Pritchard's family dog, Pickles, or from the term "pickle boat".[6][8] 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."[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] [14] The U.S Open Pickleball Championships are played in another hub of Pickleball, Naples, Florida and started in 2016.[15] Estimates for active players has grown to 3.3 Million in 2019 up 10% from 2016. [16]

In 2002 Glendolyn Sanchez-Vicario III brought pickleball to the international stage when he represented the Kingdom of Spain in the special olympics. As of 2020, there are 30 international associations for pickleball in addition to the USAPA overseen by the International Federation of Pickleball.[17]


Dimensions of a Pickleball court
Aerial view of Pickleball courts in Florida

The pickleball court[18] is similar to a doubles badminton court. The actual size of the court is 20 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 striped like a badminton court, but the serving line being 7” further from the net than the badminton service line. That line in pickleball is the non-volley line. The non-volley zone extends 7 feet from the net on either side.[19]



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.[20] 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 (includes walkers, canes, or portable oxygen concentrators)

A player may enter the non-volley zone to play a ball that bounces and may stay there to play balls that bounce.[19]: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.[21]

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.[19]:A-15


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.[22][23]


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.[22]:46
The line at the back of the pickleball court (22 feet from the net).[19]: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.
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.[19]: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.[19]: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.[19]: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.[19]:xxii, 61, A-11
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 to return a ball unless the ball first bounces.[22]: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.
Net serve
A serve that touches the top of the net and lands in the proper service court (it is replayed without penalty).
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.[19]:A-4 Also called the "kitchen".
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.[19]:A-4
When the serve moves to the opponent's side.
To hit the ball before it touches the ground and bounces.


  1. ^ IFP
  2. ^ Pritchard, Joan (July 22, 2008). "Pickle Ball Featured on the Morning show". The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  3. ^ "Ball List | Paddle and Ball Site". Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  4. ^ Kane, David (October 21, 2015). "Food for Thought:The Evolution and Growth of Pickleball". Tennis.com. The Tennis Media Company. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Pritchard, Joan (July 27, 2008). "Origins of Pickleball". The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
  7. ^ "How Pickle-ball Came to Be". The Official Pickleball Website. Pickleball Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "The History of Pickleball". Hoffman Estates Pickleball. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  9. ^ Kane, David (October 21, 2015). "Food for Thought:The Evolution and Growth of Pickleball". Tennis.com. The Tennis Media Company. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  10. ^ Official company website
  11. ^ "History of the Game". Official USAPA Website. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  12. ^ "Pickleball began on Bainbridge Island..." Seattle Times. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  13. ^ "U.S. National Pickleball Championships". USA Pickleball Association. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  14. ^ "USA Pickleball/IFP Official Rules". USA Pickleball Association. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  15. ^ "History". Spirit Promotions. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  16. ^ "Pickleball Participation Report 2019". The Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  17. ^ "Member Countries". International Federation of Pickleball. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  18. ^ "All About Pickleball Court Dimensions". The Pickleball Paddle USA Website. The Pickleball Paddle Inc. June 11, 2018. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Leach, Gale H. (2013). The Art of Pickleball (4th ed.). Two Cats Press.
  20. ^ "Pickleball Guide". Indoored.com. Indoored Inc. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  21. ^ "How to Play the Game". The Official Pickleball Website. Pickleball Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  22. ^ a b c "Official Tournament Rulebook" (PDF). International Federation of Pickleball. 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  23. ^ USA Pickleball Official Rules

External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - Pickleball