Are you interested in learning how to play pickleball but don't know where to start? Look no further than this beginner-friendly article that provides everything you need to know to get started or improve your intermediate game. We’ll help you select the right equipment and provide a solid understanding of the rules of the game, and soon you’ll be on your way to pickleball glory. It's not just about the basics; we’ll provide exciting offensive and defensive tips to take your new game to the next level. So, what are you waiting for? Let's get this pickleball party started!
Why do I want to Pickleball?
Pickleball is a low-impact sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. Here are some of the benefits of playing pickleball:
Improves cardiovascular health: Pickleball is a great way to get your heart pumping and improve your cardiovascular health. It can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve circulation.
Enhances balance and coordination: Pickleball requires quick movements and hand-eye coordination, which can help improve your balance and coordination.
Increases flexibility: Playing pickleball involves a lot of twisting, turning, and reaching, which can help improve your flexibility and range of motion.
Strengthens muscles: Pickleball involves using your upper body, lower body, and core muscles, which can help improve strength and endurance.
Helps with weight loss: Pickleball is a fun and engaging way to burn calories and lose weight. It can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related health problems.
Boosts mental health: Pickleball is a social activity that can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve your mood, self-esteem, and overall sense of well-being.
Overall, pickleball is a great way to stay active, improve your physical health, and have fun with friends and family.
How do I get started?
Familiarize yourself with the rules of the game. Pickleball is similar to tennis and ping pong, but with a smaller court and a few unique rules.
Find a court: Look for a pickleball court in your area. You can check local community centers, parks, or sports clubs. Many cities have public courts that are free to use, while some private facilities may require a membership or a fee.
Learn the rules: Learn the rules of the game. Watch online videos, attend a beginner's clinic, or play with a pickleball aficionado to learn the basics of the game. We’ll provide the basics within, it’s probably all you will need for some recreational matches.
Find a partner to practice with: Find a partner to play with or join a local pickleball group to meet other players. It’s a great way to bond with your spouse or have a few laughs with a friend.
Start playing and have fun: Start playing and practicing your skills. You can play singles or doubles depending on the number of players available. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the game!
Remember, pickleball is a game that is easy to learn but takes time to master. Start with the basics, and gradually improve your skills by practicing regularly. With dedication and practice, you can become a skilled and confident pickleball player.
Pickleball Equipment - Paddles
When choosing a pickleball paddle, it's important to consider your skill level, playing style, and budget. Higher-priced paddles generally offer better performance, durability, and features, but they may not be necessary for beginners or recreational players. Ultimately, the best pickleball paddle for you is the one that feels comfortable in your hand and helps you play your best game.
The price range for pickleball paddles/rackets can vary widely depending on the brand, materials, and features. Generally, you can find a pickleball paddle for as low as $20 or as high as $200 or more. Here's what you can expect to get for your money at different price points:
Budget paddles ($20-$40): Budget paddles are typically made of wood or composite materials and are suitable for beginners or recreational players. They are usually heavier and less durable than higher-end paddles, but they can still be effective for learning the game.
Mid-range paddles ($50-$100): Mid-range paddles are usually made of composite materials and offer a good balance of power and control. They are suitable for intermediate to advanced players who want a paddle that can help them improve their game.
High-end paddles ($100-$200+): High-end paddles are typically made of advanced composite materials and offer exceptional power, control, and durability. They are suitable for advanced players who want the best equipment to enhance their performance.
Just starting out I would recommend a simple set in the lower Mid-Range. Here are some great recommendations for good quality, highly rated Mid-Range Paddles, click to see more detail on each:
Pickleball Equipment - Balls
When choosing pickleball balls consider factors such as the playing surface (indoor or outdoor), durability, ball bounce, color, price, and brand reputation. The primary difference between indoor and outdoor pickleball balls is the material they are made of, which affects their bounce, durability, and performance on different playing surfaces.
The standard pickleball ball is plastic and is the approximate size of a baseball, but with holes in it. The ball has a diameter of 2.87 inches and weighs between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces. The holes in the ball are typically circular and evenly spaced around the ball. Selecting the right ball will provide optimal performance and enhance your overall playing experience.
Indoor balls are typically softer, lighter, and have larger holes. Indoor pickleball balls are typically made of softer plastic and have larger holes compared to outdoor balls. The softer plastic makes them quieter and less bouncy, which is ideal for indoor play in places such as gyms, recreation centers, or other enclosed spaces. The larger holes on indoor balls also help to reduce their speed and flight, making them easier to control in smaller indoor courts. Here are our recommendations, click to see more detail on each.
Outdoor Pickleball balls are made of harder plastic with smaller holes, making them more durable and able to withstand rougher playing surfaces such as concrete or asphalt. They should weigh more towards 0.935 ounces. These parameters help a consistent flight path in slight winds and consistent bounce on outdoor surfaces. They also have a harder bounce and travel faster than indoor balls, making them better suited for the larger and more open outdoor courts.
It's important to note that while indoor and outdoor balls may look similar, they are not interchangeable, and using the wrong ball can affect the game's pace, spin, and overall performance. So, make sure you select the appropriate ball based on the type of court and playing conditions you'll be using.
What are the Rules of Pickleball?
Court and Equipment: Pickleball is played on a court that is the size of a badminton court. The net is set at 36 inches in the middle and 34 inches on the sides. The game is played with a lightweight ball, similar to a wiffle ball, and a paddle that is about twice the size of a ping pong paddle.
Serving: The serve must be made underhand and the server must have at least one foot behind the baseline. The ball must land in the opposite diagonal service court. If the ball hits the net and lands in the correct court, the serve is considered "let" and is replayed. The server continues to serve until they commit a fault.
Scoring: Pickleball is played to 11 points, and you must win by two points. Points are only scored by the serving team, and a point is awarded when the opposing team fails to return the ball or hits the ball out of bounds.
Double Bounce Rule: After the serve, the ball must bounce once on the receiving side and once on the serving side before either team can hit it in the air. After the first two bounces, the ball can be hit in the air or on the bounce.
Faults: A fault is committed when a player hits the ball out of bounds, fails to clear the net, or steps into the non-volley zone and hits the ball before it bounces. The non-volley zone is the area within 7 feet on either side of the net. If a fault is committed, the opposing team gets a point.
Volleys: Volleys are shots hit in the air before the ball bounces. Volleys can only be made outside the non-volley zone, and the player must have both feet behind the non-volley zone line to make a legal volley.
These are the basic rules of pickleball, but there are also some additional rules that may be enforced in different settings or tournaments. Here is a simple primer – watch this.
How do I keep Score?
Once you've volleyed with a friend and want to try the competitive side of Pickleball you'll need to know how to keep score. So let's learn how to keep track of the points, understand the scoring system, and keep the game moving smoothly.
The game is played to 11 points, and you must win by two points.
The serving team is the only team that can score points.
The game starts with the serving team serving the ball from the right-hand side of the court.
If the serving team wins the rally, they earn a point, and the same player serves again from the left-hand side of the court.
If the receiving team wins the rally, they don't earn a point, but they do become the serving team.
The serving team continues to serve and score points until they lose a rally. At that point, the other team becomes the serving team.
The player who served first on each side will switch sides with their partner after the first and every subsequent odd-numbered point.
The game continues in this way until one team reaches 11 points and is ahead by at least two points. The game then ends, and that team wins the match.
Maybe the best way to understand is to watch the video below.
What should you practice at first?
To improve your skills in pickleball, it's important to practice specific aspects of the game. Here are some areas you can focus on to get better:
Serve: The serve is one of the most important shots in pickleball. Practice different types of serves, such as the drive serve, lob serve, or short serve, to improve your accuracy and consistency.
Return: Work on returning different types of serves, such as low or high serves, to improve your ability to get the ball back to your opponent's side of the court.
Third shot drop: The third shot drop is a key strategy in pickleball, which involves hitting a soft, low shot over the net after the serve. Practice this shot to improve your ability to set up a strong defensive position.
Dink shots: Dink shots are short, soft shots that are hit close to the net. Practice dink shots to improve your ability to control the ball and place it accurately.
Volleys: Volleys are shots hit in the air without allowing the ball to bounce on the ground. Practice volleys to improve your ability to control the ball and hit winners.
Footwork: Footwork is essential in pickleball, as it helps you move quickly and efficiently around the court. Practice different footwork drills, such as the split-step, crossover step, or shuffle step, to improve your agility and balance.
Communication: Communication is key in doubles pickleball, as it helps you and your partner coordinate and anticipate shots. Practice clear communication and signals with your partner to improve your teamwork and efficiency on the court.
Minimize Mistakes: As you play and learn there are certain things you can do to "not lose" as well as those to do to win.
Remember, regular practice and dedication are essential to improving your skills in pickleball. Focus on specific areas of the game, and practice consistently to see improvements in your performance. The video below "Top 10 beginner Mistakes" shows you some great ways not to lose a point.
Pickleball Offense Tips
Offensive in pickleball involves taking control of the game and putting pressure on your opponent. Here are some offensive tips that can help you play pickleball better:
Practice your serve: The serve is the most important offensive shot in pickleball. Practice your serve to develop accuracy and variety. Experiment with different types of serves, such as the lob serve or the spin serve, to keep your opponent guessing.
Stay at the net: To play offensively, it's important to get to the net as quickly as possible. Try to move up to the non-volley line as soon as you can, and stay there as much as possible to be in a better position to make volleys and smashes.
Be aggressive: Take control of the game by hitting hard shots and keeping your opponent on the defensive. Look for opportunities to hit smashes and putaways, but be careful not to hit the ball out of bounds or into the net.
Mix up your shots: Vary your shots to keep your opponent off-balance. Use a combination of hard shots, soft shots, and drop shots to make it more difficult for your opponent to anticipate your next move.
Aim for the sidelines: When hitting your shots, aim for the sidelines to keep the ball away from your opponent's paddle. This will make it more difficult for them to make an accurate return.
Stay focused: Stay focused and mentally engaged in the game. Keep your eye on the ball and be ready to move quickly to make your shots.
By following these offensive tips, you can become a more effective player in pickleball and increase your chances of winning the game.
Pickleball Defense Tips
Defensive play in pickleball is important to prevent your opponent from scoring points. Here are some defensive tips that can help you play pickleball better:
Stay back: If you're playing against a hard hitter or a skilled player, it's better to stay back near the baseline. This will give you more time to react to their shots and prepare for your return.
Keep your paddle up: Keeping your paddle up and ready will help you react to incoming shots faster. You'll also be in a better position to make a quick volley or block.
Use the dink shot: The dink shot is a soft shot that lands in the non-volley zone, forcing your opponent to come up to the net to make their return. This shot can be particularly effective against aggressive players who like to hit hard.
Focus on placement: When playing defense, focus on placing your shots accurately rather than hitting them hard. Aim for the sidelines or the corners of the court to make it more difficult for your opponent to return the ball.
Keep moving: Staying on the move can help you react to shots more quickly and be in a better position to make your return. Try to stay light on your feet and be ready to move in any direction.
Stay calm: Don't let frustration or pressure get the best of you. Stay calm and focused on the game, and don't be afraid to take a quick break if you need to regroup.
By following these tips, you can become a better defensive player in pickleball and improve your overall game.
Advancing your game
Focus on footwork: Improving your footwork will allow you to move more efficiently around the court, get in position for shots, and return them more effectively.
Work on consistency: Consistency is key in pickleball, and practicing your basic shots regularly will help you develop the muscle memory needed to play more consistently.
Play with and against better players: Playing with and against players who are better than you will challenge you to improve your skills and strategies, and you can learn a lot from observing their gameplay.
Study the game: Watch videos from Intermediate and Pro players on tips and tricks to gain an advantage, ones like the one below.
Other Pickleball Resources
There are several resources available for pickleball rules that can help you understand the game and play it correctly. The rulebook can be found at this link on the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) website. This is the governing body for pickleball in the United States. The USAPA also offers rule clinics and training for those interested in becoming certified referees. Here you can find the official Rulebook https://usapickleball.org/docs/USA-Pickleball-Official-Rulebook-2023-v2.pdf
Pickleball books to get better at the game or to give as a gift.
Pickleball Gifts, are great for Birthdays, mothers day, fathers day, valentines day, or any occasion for which a simple gift is needed.