Pickleball is taking America by storm and becoming one of the most popular sports in the country. What was once considered an “old person sport” is now incredibly popular with players of all ages. In fact, pickleball is America’s fastest growing sport. What people love about Pickleball is how easy it is to play with a group of friends. You don’t need to be particularly skilled or athletic to participate. It’s a great way to build community and socialize with friends. I like to think of pickleball as a combination between tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It has a competitive aspect, but on a very low-risk, fun and easy-going scale. It doesn’t require a lot of cardio and can be played casually amongst friends.
Have you been wondering what all the pickleball hype is about? Learning a new sport can be a fun, exciting and sometimes overwhelming experience. Pickleball is fairly easy to learn but there are plenty of rules, techniques and strategies to understand. Today we’re sharing some pickleball tips for beginners. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Pickleball Tips for Beginners
Keeping It Simple
Pickleball Paddle & Ball
When you are first learning to play pickleball, keep things simple. Hit the ball and get used to the pickleball paddle and ball. If you play tennis, you will need to get used to the feeling of both. A pickleball paddle is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. A pickleball ball is similar to a wiffle ball but slightly heavier.
After hitting the ball around for a bit, familiarize yourself with the pickleball court. A pickleball court is about half the size of a full tennis court. A tennis court is 36′ x 78′ and a pickleball court is 20′ x 44′. Similar to tennis there are 4 sections on each side with a net dividing the two sides. The upper section of the court closest to the net is the “kitchen”. Once you pass the kitchen line you have entered the volley zone. You can play the game with 2-4 pickleball players.
To begin playing you will decide your teams and have each person move to a different corner of the court. The person in the right court will begin serving the ball cross court and the ball must travel past the non-volley zone line. The receiver must let the ball bounce once before returning the serve. Then the server or partner must allow the ball to bounce once more before returning. Now players may begin volleying and moving into the kitchen for play.
Pickleball scoring can be a little confusing at first. The server always says the score in this order: their teams score, their opponents score, the number server they are (either 1 or 2). When you win while serving, you receive a point. If you lose a point while serving, the serve moves to your partner. No one scores a point. If they win while serving, your team receives a point. If they lose the serve rotates to the other team and again no one receives a point.
You can only receive a point while serving. Whoever servers first in a team is server 1 and whoever serves second is server 2. For example, if you are the 2nd server and you have 3 points and your opponents have 4 points, your score would be said aloud, 3-4-2. First team to reach 11 points (win by 2) wins the game. Each match is best two out of three games.
Learning From Your Mistakes
Playing pickleball is so fun and should not be taken too seriously. Especially if you are just learning, you will most certainly make mistakes. The rules can be a bit confusing and are different from tennis, badminton and ping-pong rules. Give yourself a break, and take advantage of the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. As a beginner player, you will be able to get a feel for hitting the ball and begin to learn pickleball skills to improve your level of play.
As you get more comfortable hitting the ball, you may begin to try different pickleball strategies like dink shots. A dink shot is when you hit the ball into the Non-Volley Zone (also known as the kitchen) on your opponents side of the court. Dinks are shots that are low to the ground and difficult to volley. This can keep your opponent from volleying a difficult shot back at you and gives you a moment to recover.
Just as you get in a ready position during a tennis match, the same can be done in Pickleball. You will want to make sure your feet are hips width distance apart and your knees are bent. This will allow you to move quickly from side to side and front to back. You will also want to keep your paddle in front of you with a relaxed yet confident grip.
As with all sports, a great pickleball tip is to stay focused! Be ready and do your best and you will have a blast.
Wearing Comfortable Clothes and Shoes
Like any sport, you will want to be comfortable and ready to move for pickleball. It is important to wear clothes that will allow that movement and not get in the way. Be sure to wear proper tennis shoes or sneakers to play. This will allow you to move easily around the court without slipping or tripping. You will want clothing that is stretchy, but not too flowy, as you won’t want it to get in the way of your movement. Wearing sport shorts, athletic leggings, tennis skirts or dresses and tanks and t-shirts are all great options. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses or a hat to give your eyes some coverage from the sun. It can be hard to see the ball and serve without eye protection. Check out this post on tennis gear for more clothing recommendations.
Stretching Before Playing
Pickleball requires a lot of quick movements forward, backward, side to side and twisting in all sorts of directions. You may lunge for the ball, taking quick steps and reaching up, down, forward or back. All of these movements require your body to be limber and flexible. Stretching before playing is a great way to prevent any injuries and help prepare your body for those movements. Try stretching your calves, thighs, shoulders, arms, neck and twisting your body from side to side.
Investing in Quality Equipment
As you begin to play pickleball more, you may decide you want to invest in some nicer equipment. Experienced players may have a preference for certain pickleball paddles and balls. When buying a pickleball paddle you will want to consider the weight, grip and shape. Everyone has a different preference. Some paddles may work better for some versus others. Paddles range in price from around $40 to $150 so you can choose one that suites your needs and budget. Check out some options below.
Have you played pickleball before? Let us know and share any of your tips for newbies in the comments!
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