If you haven’t played pickleball, you are missing out on a fun time while getting some exercise. Because the sport doesn’t take special skills and the equipment is very affordable, many seniors are drawn to the sport, making it popular in senior housing developments. The sport was invented in 1965 by three dads who were looking for a fun game they could play with their families. They didn’t have the equipment to play badminton or tennis. So, they created their own game. Using a badminton/tennis net and modified paddles that resemble table tennis paddles.
Little did they suspect that the silly game they came up with would reach such epic proportions. The game was created off the coast of Seattle on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The success of the game spread throughout Seattle and then throughout the West Coast. By 1975, the popularity of the game became so widespread that the first pickleball association was formed. It has continued to through throughout the 1980s and 1990s. By 2022, reports state that there were nearly 5.0 million pickleball players in the U.S. Because it takes little skill and doesn’t overly exert the players, it has become increasingly popular with seniors who have clamored to the game.
Here is a timeline of the growth of pickleball:
- 1965: Three dads create pickleball on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
- 1975: The first pickleball association was created.
- 1976: The first pickleball tournament takes place in Tukwila, Washington.
- 1984: The pickleball rulebook is published, helping players with rules and regulations.
- 1990: The first pickleball world championship games take place.
- 2009: USA Pickleball Association is created.
- 2016: The first pickleball tour is launched.
- 2022: Pickleball is the official state sport of Washington state.
What Equipment Do You Need to Play Pickleball?
You don’t need a lot of special tools or items to play pickleball; that is one reason why it has become so popular. Many people use existing tennis courts or draw their courts in driveways and yards. Other items that aspiring pickleball players need include:
- Pickleball paddles: Pickleball paddles are between the size of a ping-pong paddle and smaller than a tennis racquet with a shorter handle. Most pickleball racquets are made from wood, graphite, and aluminum. Pickleball paddles are widely available at sports stores and even many discount stores.
- Pickleball balls: Players use balls that are a similar size as a tennis ball, but they are made of light plastic with holes. They are very lightweight, so they are easy to hit.
- Pickleball net: The net used is the same height as a tennis net. It is seven feet wide instead of eight feet wide, like a tennis net.
- Pickleball court: Many people draw lines on the pavement that is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. Many also play pickleball on existing tennis courts, but more and more sports centers are creating actual pickleball courts. They are popping up at parks, rec centers, clubs, and gyms. And in many cases, the courts are filled.
Here are some other hints and tips before you head out to the nearest pickleball court:
- Wear comfortable, loose clothing that is easy to move in. You should also wear rubber-soled shoes or athletic shoes with good support.
- Those who are new to pickleball often borrow paddles and balls from friends, and many sports stores will rent pickleball equipment. Most of those who enjoy pickleball soon invest in their paddles and balls as they are relatively inexpensive, and many enjoy using the same equipment when they play the sport.
- Scope out clubs and parks that have pickleball courts so you will know where to go once you have your equipment.
- Many choose to take lessons from an instructor. This is helpful for those who want to learn to play the game properly and understand the rules of the game.
- Playing pickleball is a great way to enjoy an afternoon with friends and family in a fun, active environment.
Choosing the Proper Equipment
Choosing pickleball equipment is pretty easy. Because the paddles can come in slightly different weights, it is best to sample a couple of different paddles to see which paddle feels the most natural in your hand. One brand, the Evo-Lite Series pickleball paddle, is USA Pickleball approved and offers power and control. It is made from fiberglass, as many pickleball paddles are. This particular paddle is popular with both seasoned players and those who are just learning the game. The paddle balls typically have a handle length of 5.6 inches; the handle circumference is 4.25 inches. The total size is 16.5 inches by 7.5 inches. The weight varies from 7.8 ounces to 8.2 ounces. After some trial and error, chances are you will find the weight that works best for you.
The balls used for pickleball are similar in size to tennis balls but are a bit larger and much lighter. They are made from plastic with holes, which makes them lighter and more durable than tennis balls. They come in a variety of colors, but the most common color is bright yellow because it is easy to see. If you are playing indoors, you should use balls specifically made for indoor use. They are softer with larger holes. Outdoor pickleball balls are harder and have smaller holes that are less affected by the wind. Pickleballs are very inexpensive; you can get them at just about any sports store for a few dollars up to over $10 per ball. But those are mostly used by professional players and not novices who can’t tell the difference between the cheapest and most expensive options.
Pickleball is a fun sport that can be played by just about anyone in the family, even grandma and grandpa. It is an affordable game to play as courts are typically free to use, and all you need is the paddle and some balls, both of which are very affordable. With the right equipment from Salted City Sports, and a rule guide, you can learn to play pickleball quickly and easily, and with so many people enjoying the game, you may have a lot of people clamoring to play with you.