What Is Pickleball?

Did you know that one of the fastest-growing sports in America is pickleball?

More than 3 million people play pickleball in the US, and that number has grown by over 10 percent each year for the last decade. 

Wait a minute—what is pickleball and how do you play it? We're glad you asked.

In a way, pickleball may look like tennis, but it's much different. It's a bit easier on the body, providing a fun, low-intensity workout. Anyone can learn how to play it.

Here, we discuss the pickleball basics and explain why pickleball for kids is a great idea.

What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a fun, more leisurely activity that's basically a combination of ping pong, badminton, and tennis.

The game began in the 1960s and started to gain serious popularity in the 70s. This fandom took the game from driveways, yards, and cul-de-sacs into real pickleball courts in the YMCA, local rec centers, and schools. It's played by a wide range of ages, from kids to high-school and college students, all the way to seniors.

Pickleball is played on a court that's similar to a tennis court, but smaller—44 feet long x 20 feet wide. In the center of the court is a net that is 36 inches high on its ends and 34 in the center.

Pickleball can be played as one-on-one or two-on-two. Each team or player is on one side of the net. From the net out seven feet is the "no volley" zone, where gameplay can't happen—this zone is called the kitchen.

The players' zone ranges from the backline to the kitchen, which is 15 feet of playing space. This space is divided into rectangular halves. 

Rules of the Game

A player serves the ball underhand from their service square, which is the right rectangle. They must serve the ball into the diagonal square—the opposing team's serve-receiving rectangle. The opposing team hits the ball back, if possible.

From here, a volley can occur. For that to happen, the pickleball must bounce at least once on each team's side before they hit it back. Each team must stay out of the kitchen space, where no volley can occur—although a ball can be played after bouncing here once.

The volley ends when the ball gets hit out-of-bounds, one team doesn't hit the ball back, or a server faults.

The game gets played until one team scores 11 points, but the team must also have a two-point lead. So, the final score could be 9 to 11. If the score comes out to 11 to 11, players would have to keep going until a two-point lead occurs—11 to 13, for example.

These small restrictions make the game exciting, fun to play, and easy to understand. This is one of many reasons why kids love the sport. It's challenging without being overly competitive—but everyone likes to win!

Standard Pickleball Equipment

Another benefit of pickleball as a youth sport is its simple equipment requirements. No more dragging a 20-pound backpack full of tools and supplies to every practice. Gone are the days of trying to find the matching shin guard or pump up a deflated basketball.

Do you want to know what equipment your child needs?

A paddle, a pickleball, and a place to play. There you have it!

That makes buying the paddle a fun adventure. Make sure your kid loves it, as paddles come in a variety of colors and materials. It can be wooden, fiberglass, or graphite. Have them hold and mess around with different versions to see which weight and feel they prefer.

Each material has its advantages.

Plywood is sturdy but lightweight. Graphite is easy to use and powerful—a top choice among more seasoned players. Composite paddles are about 8 ounces and can be made of several things, including fiberglass, vinyl, and aluminum—and offer a durable, strong feeling.

Pickleball can be indoor or outdoor—outdoor balls are typically heavier to withstand wind. The high-quality plastic balls have holes throughout them. They are resilient and durable enough to stand rigorous play, and they also provide good moving power.

There's also some fun training equipment that parents can use to teach and help their kids. For example, our stoplight practice cones help make clear boundaries for your child to play in. 

Find a local rec center that hosts indoor or outdoor pickleball and have your kid join a team, providing them with court space and fellow players. Then, your kid just needs to show up in their best sporty attire!

Benefits of Pickleball for Kids

Is your kid tired of playing a game they're not passionate about, or one they just don't quite understand? Are you feeling exhausted trying to convince them to participate? Looking for something new and exciting that your child will be happy to join in?

One clear benefit of pickleball for kids is its accessibility—it's easy to learn and play, eliminating any feelings of frustration or "not getting it." Pickleball is inclusive of several ranges of mobility, and its rules are quickly picked up by players. This makes it a sport for everybody—even those recovering from injuries or time off.

There are several other health benefits to playing pickleball, both physical and mental:

  • Improved mood and mental wellness
  • Aerobic exercise like pickleball improves our balance as we age
  • Burns calories
  • Increases agility
  • Reduces health risks
  • Can be played by those recovering from injury
  • Provides social interaction in a team setting 

And last but not least, it's fun! Your kid will enjoy doing something less "routine."

Paddle Up!

What is pickleball? It's an entertaining, fun, low-impact sport that's suitable for several ages—including your kid.

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing youth sports in the US for good reason. Join the obsession today!

We've got everything you could need, from court accessories to court supplies, to paddles, balls, and more. Check out our offerings and let us know if you have any questions.