How to Play Pickleball

Let’s take a shotgun course on the game of Pickleball. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and has proven as an extraordinary opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together. It is a fun, social, yet challenging sport. In fact, the game was originally invented for children, so the very founding of the sport promotes positivity, fun, and connecting with others. Ahhhh. Anyway...

Let's examine the basic anatomy of a pickleball court.

  • It is a rectangular court with a net in the center.
  • Each side of the net is divided in half, designating each player's playing area.
  • But here's where the game of pickleball gets interesting: the non-volley zone, also humorously coined as the "kitchen". But we won't go there.
    • This is where you WANT to be during the game of pickleball.
  • However, if you lay even the tip of your shoe inside of the kitchen while hitting the ball in mid-air, it is a fault and the point is over.
    • BUT...if the ball bounces in the kitchen, you are welcome to be inside of the kitchen as much as you please.

So with that being said, let's play.

  • Doubles pickleball, which is pickleball's original form, sets two players on each side of the net.
  • Both players on the serving team are required to start the point behind the base line (the serving player's partner is NOT required to stand behind the base line, but it is in their best interest).
  • The receiving team requires the receiving player to remain at the baseline, while the other begins the point at the kitchen, or non-volley zone.
  • The serve is executed.
    • Make it a deep serve. The deeper your serve is, the more difficult it will be for the receiving player to execute an effective return
  • The receiving player returns the serve.
    • Make sure your return is deep as well. Contrary to the serve, the purpose of returning a serve deeply is to keep the opposing team away from the non-volley zone
      • Remember, this is where everyone WANTS to be.

Now we are at the third shot of the game; the “third shot drop”.

  • This is one of the most important and difficult shots of the game.
  • First, you must let the ball bounce on your side of the court before you make contact with the ball.
  • The ultimate goal of the third shot drop is to land the ball in the opposing team’s kitchen in order to bring all players up to the kitchen line.

This is where the game transforms.

  • Think of it as a mini-game.
  • So why is this an important shot? The answer is in the most unique aspect of the game; dinking. Once again, this is where all players in the game WANT to get to.
  • A dink is exactly what it sounds like. A very soft shot. This is the part of the game that requires a great deal of patience. where it gets fun.
    • During this part of the game, all players engage in a series of dinks across the net.
  • The goal is to keep the ball as low as possible. If the ball goes to high, it gives the opposing team the advantage of slamming the ball back at you.
  • Again, it very important to remember that stepping into the kitchen while hitting the ball in mid-air counts as an immediate fault, meaning a lost point.

And there are the rudimentary basics for the game structure of pickleball. Go play, and remember to have FUN.

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