What do you get if you combine tennis, ping pong and badminton? Pickleball! Pickleball is a fun sport that is easy to learn and great for all ages to play. And it’s catching on fast!
Pickleball is played on a court with a long, tennis-like net in the middle, and can be played indoors or outdoors,. Each player has a paddle, and they take turns hitting a plastic ball across the court to each other. The paddles are made of wood, like ping pong paddles, but are bigger and wider.
Pickleball was first invented in the 1960s, when three friends decided they wanted to play badminton. But no one could find the shuttlecock—the funny little feathered ball you use in badminton. So they got a Wiffle ball and some ping pong paddles, then lowered the badminton net a little. Suddenly, Pickleball was born! The game caught on, and soon people all over the country were playing.
In fact, Pickleball became so popular that people started to host big competitions. This week, the U.S. Open Pickleball Championship was played in front of 12,000 people! The event was held in Naples, Florida, where Pickleball is a favorite sport. JoAnne Russell, who played professional tennis for 13 years, won the bronze medal at the Pickleball Championship. She says when she first heard of Pickleball, said she thought the name “was the weirdest thing,” but she soon grew to love the sport.
Like all sports, Pickleball has its own set of rules. You are not allowed to make overhand serves, like you can in tennis. All the serves have to be underhand. This means that sometimes the rallies, where the players bounce the ball back and forth, can be very long. So players need to have a good range of shots and endurance (energy). “You have to dink, you have to lob. . .It’s really about skill and touch,” says JoAnne Russell.
To see some Pickleball in action, click here.