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What is Pickleball?

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Pickleball is apparently all the rage, but few people seem to know what the sport actually is.

Invented during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge, Island, Washington, near Seattle, Pickleball is a court game that utilizes aspects of table tennis, tennis and badminton. It resembles a large version of table tennis in that participants use large, solid paddles that are much like table tennis paddles and use a hard surface, like driveway or the end of a cul-de-sac. Today, the game has moved into gymnasiums.

The paddles are typically made of wood or a composite of materials. The ball is a polymer perforated wiffle-style ball. The dimension of the playing area is the same as a badminton court.

Like table tennis, the ball goes over the next to one or two opponents; it’s a two or four-person game like the other racquet sports.

The game was invented at the home of then State Representative Joel Pritchard who, in 1970, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the State of Washington. 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 wiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.

Pritchard’s wife Joan named the game after pickle boat, which is the last boat to return from rowing and is crewed by leftover rowers from other boats. A popular misconception is that they named the game after the family dog, Pickles, however, Pickles did not join the family for at least two years and was therefore named after the game.

The size of the court is 20’ × 44’ for both doubles and singles. The net is hung at 36” on the ends, and 34” in the centre.

PaddleThe ball is served with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level in an upward motion from behind the service line, diagonally to the opponent’s service zone. The service line is the baseline.

Points are scored by the serving side only and occur when the opponent faults. A player may enter the non-volley zone to play a ball that bounces and may stay there to play balls that bounce. The player must exit the non-volley zone before playing a volley. The first side scoring 11 points and leading by at least two points wins. Tournament games may be played to 15 or 21 points with players rotating sides at 8 or 11 points, respectively.

The return of service must be allowed to bounce by the server for example cannot be volleyed. The server or server and partner usually stay at the baseline until the first return has been hit back and bounced once.

Similar to table tennis, in doubles play, at the start of the game, the serving side gets only one fault before their side is out, and the opponents begin their serve. After this, each side gets two faults (one with each team member serving) before their serve is finished. Thus, each side is always one serve ahead or behind, or tied.

In singles play, each side gets only one fault before a side 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 in singles play only.

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