The Rise of Pickleball

Maya Hardin

What do LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Kevin Durant have in common? Not only are they all athletes, but they also own a pickleball team! Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America and is played all over the U.S. This sport is a mix of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, and uses paddles instead of rackets on a badminton-like court with rules similar to badminton and tennis. Pickleball (or paddle tennis) is rapidly gaining popularity, but what’s the history?

Pickleball was made in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington state, Bill Bell, a businessman, and Barney McCallum. Pritchard and Bell originally wanted to create a game that the whole family could play and enjoy. They started on a badminton court with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball, and pickleball was born. Despite what the name implies, the game has nothing to do with pickles. It was named after the family’s dog, Pickles, who would run and retrieve the balls. To this day, the name stuck.

Pickleball is played in teams of one or two, on a court that is 44 feet long by 20 feet wide. There is a net in the middle with a height of 36 inches. On each side of the net, the court is split into two parts with a line, with another horizontal line extending 7 feet from the net. This area is called the non-volley zone, or the kitchen. To begin, one person serves behind the baseline (farthest line from the net), trying to make it to the diagonal service box. The ball must bounce once on the opposing side and once on the service side to start volleying to the ball. Volleying involves hitting the ball without letting it bounce first. Players cannot volley in the non-volley zone. Games are typically played to 11, 15, or 21 points.

Pickleball is a sport quickly rising in popularity in the United States. Ever since 1984, when the United States Amateur Pickleball Association (USAPA) was first established, this sport has been enjoyed by millions across the nation. These days, it’s very easy to find a pickleball court or even join a league. So, when are you going to join the amazing world of pickleball?

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