What is pickleball and how do you play it?

New York, New York - Are you ready to play the fastest growing sport in the country?

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country that has the combination elements of three different sports: tennis, ping pong, or badminton.
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country that has the combination elements of three different sports: tennis, ping pong, or badminton.  © Bruce Yeung / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Pickleball is one of the more unique sports of today. The combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton has been dubbed America's "newest obsession."

Pickleball's rapid growth has led to major developments, including the first Major League Pickleball league in the US and the launch of a Women’s International Pickleball Association.

More recently, the league's expansion has been highlighted by celebrity-athlete franchise owners LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Kevin Durant, who are set to take it to even bigger heights.

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With its popularity, longevity of player participation, and very short learning curve, many are picking up pickleball as a fun way to exercise or play on the professional level.

If pickleball sounds like your jam, then here's what you need to know before you get started on the court!

What does a pickleball match look like?

Pickleball matches are decided through the best-out-of-three model.

Each game is played to 11 points and the winner must have a two-point advantage. In tournaments, games are usually played to 15 or 21 points.

Like tennis, pickleball can be played in singles or doubles, with doubles being more popular.

How do pickleball serves work?

Every game begins with a serve. The player who stands in the right service court is always the first server, whether at the beginning of a game or on a side-out. Before every serve, the server must call out the score.

To start, the server must hit underhanded from behind the baseline, cross court. The serve must clear the net into the opposing team’s service court and not land in the non-volley zone (the kitchen).

If the ball hit the net and still land in the correct serving court on a serve, this is called a let. If the ball hits the net and lands in the kitchen, it is ruled as a fault.

The player returning a serve must let the ball bounce once before returning.

What is a pickleball fault?

In pickleball, a fault is any action that stops a play because of a rule violation. If committed by the receiving team, a fault results in a point for the serving team. If committed by the serving team, it results in the server’s loss of serve or side out.

Here are some of the major faults in pickleball:

  • Hitting a volley before the ball has bounced at least once on a side at the beginning of a rally
  • Letting the ball bounces more than once before hitting it
  • Hitting the ball out of bounds
  • Hitting the ball into the net
  • Any plays involving stepping into the kitchen to hit a volley

What is the two-bounce rule?

When the ball is served in pickleball, the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning, followed by the serving team who also must let the ball bounce before returning – creating two bounces.

After the ball has bounced once on each team or player's side of the court, volleys are allowed.

Now that you know pickleball rules like the back of your hands, it's time to pick up a racquet, find a court, and play!

Cover photo: Bruce Yeung / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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