When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more here.

Getting Started With The Sport Pickleball (It’s Not Just For Old People!)

Just when I think that I have heard everything, I come across the weirdly named sport of pickleball.

Maybe you’ve heard of it? Or, if you’re like me, then you’re wondering what the hell is pickleball and how do I play it?

Well, it was considered the fastest growing sport in America as recently as March 2014.

And in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Yup, pickleball is also still the fastest growing sport in America in 2022.

Basically, people are going crazy for pickleball, and have been for almost 10 years now.

I wanted to get to know this new-to-me sport, so I did my homework on all things pickleball, and here’s what I’ve learned on pickleball for beginners.

What The Heck Is Pickleball? Is It A Sport?

Pickleball is a good sport choice for people who enjoy badminton, tennis and ping-pong.

Why? Because pickleball is really just a combination of those three things in one sport.

As someone who loves all those things, I’m even more upset that I’d never heard of pickleball!

The game is played a short court – the same size court you’d use for a doubles badminton game.

And, you use paddles and a wiffle ball.

As someone who got beaned with a wiffle ball in third grade, this makes me a little nervous.

From what I can tell, the sport is enjoyed by people of all ages, but the retired folk really seem to get a kick out of it since the shorter court requires less exertion while playing.

But don’t assume that this is an “old people’s sport” because it’s not.

It is the real deal, with a legit sports association and everything.

The game of pickleball is rather fast paced and can be quite competitive.

What Do You Need To Play Pickleball?

Like most racquet sports, your required gear for pickleball is very minimal.

That makes it a very cheap sport to pick up as a hobby.

All you need to play the game is:

  • pickleball paddle
  • pickleball ball
  • proper size court with net

Yup, that’s really all you need to play a rousing game of pickleball.

Well, that and someone to play against you.

Of course, you’ll need someone (or another team) to play against.

But other than that, you’re ready to hit the court.

So, put on something comfortable and get out there!

If you’re looking to play this at a local park or something, then I suggest looking for a badminton court since they’re basically the same size that you need for a game of pickleball.

Basic Pickleball Rules of Play

pickleball game

A game is played either with doubles or singles.

Doubles is a team of two against two and singles is a team of one against one.

For the most part, doubles is what you usually see on the court.

When you serve, it must be underhand and the ball must connect with the paddle below your waist.

At least one of your feet must be behind the baseline when you serve.

And neither foot can connect with the court or the baseline until after the serve.

Like in tennis, your serve needs to send the ball diagonally to the other side of the court and fall within the confines of that side’s boundaries.  

You only get one serve attempt unless the ball hits the net and ends up on the proper service court.

The receiving team must let the ball bounce before returning it, and likewise for the serving team.

But after it has bounced once on each side, players no longer have to let it bounce before returning the ball.

Only the serving team can score points.

How many points do you play to in pickleball?

Games are played to a score of 11, with the winner needing a 2-point lead.

As you can see, those rules are pretty similar to the other games that it’s based on.

See the game in action below.

More On Pickleball Scoring

Probably the one thing that new players have the hardest time with is understanding how to keep score during a game of pickleball.

So, we’ll try to break it down for you here.

The game ends once a score of 11 points is reached, as long as that team has a two point lead (minimum).

If there is not a spread of at least two points between the two sides, then the game continues until that spread is reached.

For tournaments, it’s common to see games where the goal is 15 points or 21 points.

Doubles Scoring

As previously mentioned, only the team/player who is serving can score.

When serving, the right side of the court is where the game play starts.

And each time they serve, the servers switch sides.

For instance, if a point is scored, the server moves to the left side (odd court) and serves to the diagonally opposite court. 

This is done until the team commits a fault.

Both teams are required to let the ball bounce on their court one time after each serve before they can return the ball.

To return the ball, you can use either the ground stroke or the volley method.

Once you get to playing, the side that is serving will continue to do so (and earning points) until a fault occurs.  

A fault, is anything that causes the serving team to either score, or give up the serve to the other team (going out of bounds, missing the ball, two bounces etc.).

Singles Scoring

If you’re not playing a game of doubles, then you don’t really need to learn a whole new scoring system.

In fact, scoring for singles games is pretty much the same except that there isn’t a second server.

Just like with doubles, the serve is always done from the right side when the server’s score is even and from the left side when the server’s score is odd.

And, the server’s score that determines serving position, not the score of the receiver.

The receiver lines up on the right or left side according to the server’s score.

Pickleball FAQs

As a beginner, you likely have a lot of the same questions that I did when first learning about pickleball.

Let’s go through some of those common questions and answers below.

Can pickleball be played as singles?

Yes, you can play pickleball as single, or one-on-one. 

However, it is more common to see pickleball played as doubles, or teams of two versus two on the court.

Is pickleball easier than tennis?

Yes, pickleball is considered easier than tennis because it is played on smaller court and requires less movement.

But it is still a sport that requires agility and quick movements, so don’t think this is a sport for lazy people.

Why is it called pickleball?

Supposedly, the three old dudes who created this game back in 1965 named it after one of their dogs, who had the name Pickles.

Is pickleball good for weight loss?

Yes, pickleball is good for weight loss because it is an active sport that requires movement on the court.

Is pickleball a good workout?

Yes, pickleball is a good workout since you have to move around the court to play it.

Playing pickleball is a good aerobic workout without really being too hard on your joints.

Does pickleball work your glutes?

Yes, your glutes get a great workout when playing pickleball.

In fact, this is one of the main muscle groups that you use when playing pickleball.

Is pickleball a racket (racquet) sport?

Technically, no, pickleball is not a racket sport because it is played with a paddle instead of a racket.

Is pickleball a high impact sport?

No, pickleball is not a high impact sport.

Pickleball is a low-impact sport.

Do you have to be athletic to play pickleball?

No, you don’t have to be athletic to start playing pickleball.

However, it will be easier for you to play and pickup the sport if you have an athletic background or if you have experience playing racket sports.

Can you play pickleball in a gym?

Yes, you can play pickleball in a gym.

While pickleball courts do exist, the fact is that you can play pickleball on any hard surface.

top image: Wikipedia

Leave a Comment