Let’s get physical! Physical! Let’s get physical…with a paddle (and a ball)! Really, that’s all it takes. Once you have a paddle and a ball you’re ready to play pickleball. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country, so let’s learn what it’s all about, how you can join in on the fun, and why you should!
Why is it called Pickleball?
Before we get into why you should start playing pickleball, let’s see why it has such an interesting name. There are actually 2 stories that explain the name’s origin.
The first story claims that the founder simply named the game after his dog, who loved to run away with his balls, pickle. The 2nd story has to do with rowing. In rowing, the “pickle boat” is the boat where all of the rowers that were not picked to row go. It is said when this game was created it reminded the founders of the ‘pickle boat’ because it was put together with leftover elements from tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. While we’re not sure which story is true we’re just happy that it was invented and that it’s growing in popularity.
Now that you know that pickleball has nothing to do with those crunchy, salty snacks we all know and love (or hate), let’s talk about why you should consider grabbing a paddle and getting involved.
The great social distancing order of 2020 has made us appreciate socialization more than ever. As humans we crave social interaction (there’s a reason solitary confinement is a punishment) and what better way to get some than with a little friendly competition? Pickleball can be played in singles or doubles so regardless of which option you choose you will need at least 1 person to play with you. If you don’t already have someone to team up with, this is the perfect opportunity to ask a neighbor, friend, or someone hanging around your local pickleball court if they want to join you. Playing pickleball gives a sense of community with fellow players and gives you a common topic to discuss and strategize over. It might even get some good-natured banter going between fellow pickle ballers. And who knows – you may meet your new best friend or hit it off with a new significant other (if you’re in the market for a romantic companion, that is).
Since the pandemic began, heart attacks are up 400%. A lot of people were sedentary and skipped doctor appointments, understandably so. The thought of going to a doctor’s office was frightening, so it’s easy to see why some thought it’d be better to forego an annual appointment than risk being exposed to covid. If you found yourself on the couch more than you were up and moving these past few years, picking up a pickleball paddle is a great reintroduction to getting the blood flowing and getting those endorphins pumping. Not only is pickleball good for physical health, it’s great for mental health as well. According to a study of players ages 51-85 published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, “the more deeply engaged in pickleball these enthusiasts were, the more likely they were to be satisfied with their lives and have a positive experience with aging”. Not only will your physical health improve but your mental health will benefit as well. You truly can’t go wrong if you begin playing pickleball!
Pickleball is a great sport because it’s so easy to modify. Just about anyone from 9 to 90 can play which makes it nice for multi-generational families. Pickleball’s level of competitiveness can be adjusted depending on what your teammates and opponents decide on. Whether you want to have a casual game or play by the book is entirely up to you. There are also indoor or outdoor court options so if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you can always play on a temperature regulated indoor court. On the contrary, if there aren’t any courts near you, you can grab a piece of chalk and mark lines for a temporary court and you’re good to go.
Pickleball is a simple game played on a badminton size court which, to give you a visual, is about 3x smaller than a tennis court.
- When serving, the ball must land in the court diagonally opposite of the server and must be hit underhand without being bounced.
- After the ball is served each team must follow the double-bounce rule which means that the ball must bounce before the opposite team returns the serve at least once.
- Once both teams hit the ball off a bounce, it is fair game whether the ball is returned off a bounce or not.
In regards to scoring, only the serving team can earn points. The game is played until one team reaches 11 points and they must win by 2 points. There are rules that are more involved and can be learned as you play, but these are the basics that can get you and your teammate(s) off to a great start.
No matter how you slice it, there is really no downside to playing pickleball. It gets you moving, gets you involved in your community, and builds interpersonal relationships. Grab a paddle and dive into the sport that’s taking the country by storm. Your body, mind, and doctor will thank you!