Pickleball: The Rules of Play

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The sport of pickleball, purportedly hatched in 1965 by a family with a badminton court but only ping-pong paddles, has 2.8 million U.S. players, growing 12 percent the past year, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

The City of Phoenix has several indoor pickleball courts open to the public, including two in North Phoenix. Anthem plans to build new, dedicated courts that will open this fall (Anthem players already have a club). Pickleball courts are also planned for the USAA’s Union Park at Norterra development, under construction now near I-17 and Happy Valley Road and expected to begin home sales later this year.

Pickleball is like a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong. It’s played on a badminton-size court (about half the size of a tennis court), with a net that’s similar to tennis. Play can be among singles, but doubles play is more common. One thing all pickleball players are quick to note: The game is easy to learn, and the cost of entry is minimal (as little as $50 for two paddles and balls).

A ball similar to a Whiffle Ball is struck with paddles. Serves must be underhand from behind the baseline, and must strike the diagonal section of the court. The sequence of serving proceeds similar to tennis, but with some variations. For example, both players on one team serve before losing the serve on a fault (except on the first serve of a game).

When the ball is served, both teams must let it bounce once before returning it, but only on the initial sequence. Thereafter, volleys look much like those in tennis or badminton, with overhead strikes common—at least from the backcourt.

A key to controlling the pace of pickleball is the “kitchen.” This 7-foot deep area near the net is a “no volley zone.” Players can’t enter the kitchen unless the ball bounces there first. So there are no smashes at the net.

The dink—dropping a shot into the kitchen—is a favorite.

Points are scored only by the serving team. The game is typically played to 11, with a win-by-2 rule. Tournament games may play to 15 or 21.

pickleball national championships
Action from the 2017 Pickleball National Championships. Photo courtesy Tom Gottfried/USAPA

SOURCE: USAPA


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Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates • 602-242-4592
Anthem Senior Living • 602-909-9550
Appliance Pros • 502-501-5501
Business Network of Anthem • 623-455-9630
Carroll Law Firm • 623-551-9366
Century 21 Real Estate - Jeff Huff • 623-223-1221
Creative Home Enhancements • 623-551-5409
Daisy Dream Homes Real Estate • 623-879-3277
Daisy Mountain Dentistry • 623-551-5250
Desert Foothills Air Conditioning • 480-595-0938
Edward Jones • 623-551-0523
Element Dental Centers • 623-551-5555
Hand & Stone Massage • 623-551-6602
Kendallwood Design • 602-252-3844
Kodiak Roofing • 602-501-7717
Luv My PC • 480-703-6609
Merrill Gardens • 623-201-4881
North Valley Water Solutions • 623-551-0515
Preferred Business of Anthem • 623-551-0523 
Prickett Realty • 623-551-8111
ProSkill Services • 623-551-7473
RE/MAX Professionals - Mike Higgins • 623-640-7502
Rise Above Remodeling • 623-551-2013
Soft Water Plus • 623-551-7383
SonoranScapes Landscaping • 602-842-9948
State Farm Insurance - Justin Simons • 623-551-3700
Storage at Anthem • 623-226-8634
Sunset Cabinets • 623-687-6579
Thompson & McGinnis Attorneys at Law • 602-952-2666
Titan Tree Care • 623-444-8448
Titan Pest Control • 623-879-8700
Wyman Plumbing & Mechanical • 623-551-6688

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Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.
Robert Roy Britt on Email

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels. Email the author.

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