- Official Rules (International Federation of Pickleball)
Pickleball is a fun game that is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic baseball (similar to a whiffle ball) and wood or composite paddles. It is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.
Although Pickleball appears to be very similar to tennis, there are key differences that make Pickleball more accessible to a wider range of players, particularly children and seniors. Chief among these differences is the speed of the Pickleball ball which typically moves at one-third of the average speed of a tennis ball. Equally important, however, is the size of the court which is just under one-third of the total area of a tennis court. This smaller area combined with the slower moving ball makes Pickleball much easier to play than tennis.
Originally invented as a backyard pastime, Pickleball is now an organized sport represented by national and international governing bodies. Since its inception in 1965, Pickleball has spread across the United States and into Canada. It is now beginning to spread around the world. The United States Pickleball Association estimates there are more than 100,000 active Pickleball players in that country alone.
Pickle-ball® is a game for the whole family. So it’s only fitting that it was invented by a family, too. The game got its start back in 1965, in Bainbridge Island, just a short ferry ride away from Seattle, WA. When Congressmen Joel Pritchard, William Bell and Barney McCallum came home from a game of golf one day to find their kids bored and restless, they set out to create a game that would engage them through the lazy days of summer.
They wanted to create a game that would be challenging, but still accessible. They handed the kids ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball, and lowered the net on their badminton court. In the coming days both kids and adults alike fell in love with the game, and as they played the rules evolved (to include the non-volley zone, for instance) and solidified to their present incarnation.
Today Pickleball is played all over the world—through community groups, PE classes, YMCA, retirement communities and more. There are more than 100,000 people playing Pickleball in the US alone, and the game is growing exponentially.
Playing the Game
The Pickleball court is similar to a doubles badminton court. The actual size of the court is 20×44 feet for both doubles and singles. The net is hung at 36 inches on the ends, and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped like a tennis court, with no alleys; but the outer courts, and not the inner courts, are divided in half by service lines. The inner courts are no-volley zones, and extend 7 feet from the net on either side.
The paddles are similar to ping-pong paddles constructed from wood or composit material (graphite) and the balls are similar to whiffle balls.