Beginner’s Guide to Starting Pickleball

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Pickleball is swiftly gaining popularity in Australia, captivating players of all ages with its unique charm. This sport, a creative mix of ping-pong, badminton, and tennis, is increasingly becoming a favourite pastime for many. Its simplicity and accessibility are major factors in its rising popularity, making it a game that’s easy to learn but challenging to master. This guide aims to give beginners a comprehensive understanding of pickleball, from its origins to how it’s played, ensuring that newcomers can confidently start their journey in this exciting sport.


Pickleball: A Blend of Ping-pong, Badminton, and Tennis

Pickleball, a sport that ingeniously combines elements of ping-pong, badminton, and tennis, offers a unique and engaging experience. It’s played on a court similar to badminton, uses a paddle similar to ping-pong, and follows a scoring system and rules that echo tennis. This blend results in a game that is fun and accessible to a vast range of players, irrespective of their age or skill level.


Pickleball History

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington, by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The game was created to entertain their families and was initially improvised using ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball. The name “pickleball” has an unclear origin, with stories attributing it to the Pritchards’ dog named Pickles or a term from rowing. From these modest beginnings, pickleball has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, with its history highlighting a blend of innovation, community, and the pursuit of fun.


What is Pickleball?

So, what is pickleball? This dynamic sport is a fusion of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong elements, offering an engaging and strategic experience. It can be played inside or outdoors on a court similar to badminton but with a modified tennis net. It’s played with a paddle and a perforated plastic ball. Known for its strategic depth and accessibility, pickleball welcomes players of all ages and abilities.


Setting the Stage: Pickleball Courts and Equipment

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A comprehensive understanding of pickleball’s court and equipment is fundamental for anyone looking to play the game effectively. It’s important to explore the specifics of pickleball courts and the equipment. From the court’s dimensions to the type of racquet and ball, each aspect plays an important role in how the game is played and enjoyed.


Pickleball Courts

Pickleball courts have unique dimensions and layouts that are essential to understand for effective gameplay.


  • Court Size: The standard dimensions of a pickleball court are 6.1m wide by 13.4 long, offering a balanced play area for movement and strategy.
  • Non-Volley Zone: Known as ‘the kitchen’, this area is 2.1m from the net on both sides of the court. Players cannot volley in this zone, adding a tactical layer to the game.
  • Net: The net plays a central role, dividing the court into two equal halves. It stands at 0.86m on the sidelines and slightly lower at 0.81m in the centre, challenging players to adjust their shots.
  • Service Sections: The court is divided into right and left service sections, dictating where players serve and receive.

Knowing these dimensions and layouts is crucial for strategic gameplay and proper positioning.


Pickleball Equipment

Selecting the right pickleball equipment is essential for optimal performance in the game. Let’s delve into the specifics:


  • Pickleball Racquet: The pickleball racquet, also known as a paddle, is a crucial piece of equipment. It’s smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. Materials range from wood for beginners to composite and graphite for advanced players, affecting the paddle’s weight and power.
  • Balls: Pickleball balls resemble wiffle balls with holes. There are outdoor and indoor variants, each designed to perform best in their respective environments.
  • Other Gear: Proper athletic wear and court shoes are recommended for comfort and safety during play.

Understanding these equipment details will enhance your pickleball experience, ensuring you are well-equipped for the game.


The Heart of the Game: Pickleball Rules and Scoring

Understanding pickleball scoring and rules is crucial for any player stepping into the game. It’s not just about the physical play; knowing these aspects profoundly affects how the game is approached and enjoyed. This ensures players are well-informed and ready for both casual and competitive play.


Pickleball Rules in Australia

Pickleball rules in Australia mirror the global standards. Let’s break down these rules:


  • Court Layout: The court used for the game is rectangular and resembles a badminton court. Service areas and non-volley zones are clearly marked on the court.
  • Serving Rules: The serve in pickleball is underhand, striking the ball below the waist level. This rule makes it easier for beginners. The player must serve the ball diagonally, landing in the opposite service court.
  • Non-Volley Zone (The Kitchen): This is a crucial area on the court, extending 2.1m from the net on both sides, where players are not allowed to volley the ball. This rule is designed to prevent spiking and encourages more strategic gameplay.


Pickleball Scoring

Scoring in pickleball involves a few critical aspects for the pickleball game set and how to score in pickleball:


  • Standard Game Length: A typical game is played to 11 points, and a player or team must win by at least a 2-point margin. This scoring format adds to the competitive nature of the game.
  • Server’s Score Determines Position: In both singles and doubles, the score of the serving player or team dictates which side of the court they serve from. This rule requires players to pay attention to their score for positioning.
  • Scoring by the Serving Side: Points are scored only when serving. This rule emphasises the importance of maintaining the serve and adds a strategic element to the game.
  • Switching Sides After Scoring: Upon scoring a point, the server switches to the opposite side of the court for the next serve, introducing a rotational aspect to the game.
  • Faults and Serve Rotation: If the serving team commits a fault, the serve rotates to the opponent. This rule keeps the game dynamic and ensures both teams have equal opportunities to score.

These detailed scoring rules are essential for understanding how to play and succeed in pickleball.


Mastering the Game: How to Play Pickleball

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Playing pickleball is easy to learn, especially for beginners. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


  • Starting with the Serve: The server must serve underhand and below the waist, aiming diagonally across the court. The serve must clear the non-volley zone, also known as ‘the kitchen’.
  • Serve Return: The receiving player must let the serve bounce once before hitting it back. This rule is part of what’s known as the ‘double bounce rule’.
  • Double Bounce Rule: Each side must play their first shot off the bounce after the serve and return. That is, the ball must bounce once on each side before volleys are allowed.
  • Continuing the Rally: Players hit the ball back and forth, trying to outplay the opponent. Volleys are allowed only after the double bounce rule is satisfied.
  • Scoring: Points are scored only by the serving side when the opponent fails to return the ball or commits a fault. The game is played typically to 11 points, and you must win by 2 points.
  • Winning the Game: The first individual or team reaching 11 points, with a minimum advantage of 2 points over the opposition, wins the game.


Get Started Today

This guide has introduced you to the fun and engaging world of pickleball, a sport gaining tremendous popularity across Australia. We’ve covered the basics of how to play, the rules specific to Australia, and the unique scoring system that makes pickleball both challenging and enjoyable. Embracing both the growth and community spirit of pickleball, it’s a great time to get involved.


If you’re keen to start learning Pickleball in the Northern Beaches, contact Evolve Tennis Academy today. We’re here to support your pickleball adventure, whether you’re a beginner or looking to refine your skills.