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What is pickleball?

Ready for a fresh challenge on the court? Then say hello to pickleball, one of the world’s fastest-growing sports.

So what’s the appeal? Part of the allure of pickleball is that it’s so easy to pick up for racquet sport novices and veterans alike. What’s more, it’s a fun, social game.

Pickleball is also a bit kinder on the joints than tennis, and as a result it’s great for families to play together.

But don’t worry, a game of pickleball will still give you a real workout if that’s what you’re looking for!

Find out why pickleball becoming a new sport of choice for players all over the world – and how you can get started.

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a racquets game that combines aspects of tennis, badminton and table tennis.

Pickleball was invented in America in the mid-1960s, where it quickly gained popularity as a low-impact sport the whole family could play together. It is now one of America’s fastest-growing sports, though it took almost 50 years to arrive here in the UK.

Pickleball, like Padel, is gaining popularity and interest because it’s so easy to get started. (What is Padel, you ask? It’s another fast-paced racquet game that hooks you in.) All you need is some inexpensive equipment, a slightly modified badminton or tennis court and somebody to play against.

Importantly, the design of the ball reduces velocity compared to other racquet sports, especially tennis and squash. That means people of all different ages and abilities can enjoy the game together while still enjoying a good workout and improving their reaction time and coordination.

How do you play pickleball?

Pickleball players use paddles – with a larger, more flexible hitting surface than table tennis bats – to hit a lightweight, perforated plastic ball on a badminton-sized court with a lowered net. Much like other racquet sports, it can be played in either a singles or doubles format.

Pickleball rules at a glance

  • The first player or pair to 11 points with two in hand (like badminton) is the winner.
  • Service begins from the right-hand court, and serves must be underarm. There are no second serves.
  • There’s a non-volley zone seven feet either side of the net (sometimes referred to as “the kitchen”; see below).
  • The 2-bounce rule: The service ball must bounce in the receiving court (beyond the non-volley zone) before it’s returned, then bounce in the service court on its way back before it can be returned again.
  • The rally can continue with any combination of volleys (except in the kitchen) and groundstrokes.
  • Only the server or serving pair can win a point. If they fault, service goes to the opponent.
  • In doubles, player one serves until they fault. When it is their team’s turn to serve again, their partner then serves until they fault.
  • For a more detailed account of pickleball rules, see the official USA Pickleball website.

Pickleball terms you need to know

  • The Kitchen: Informal term for the non-volley zone (NVZ), the area within seven feet of each side of the net where volleying is not allowed.
  • No-Man’s Land: The area on the court between the kitchen and the baseline. Also referred to as the transition zone.
  • Dink: A soft, controlled shot that moves downward shortly after it clears the net, landing in the no-volley zone.
  • Nasty Nelson: When the server intentionally aims a hard serve at the non-receiving opponent to cause a fault.
  • Pickle!: A player shouts “Pickle!” to let the other players know they are about to serve.
  • Pickled: If a team scores zero points by the end of the game, they have been pickled.
  • Volley llama: Did you fault by hitting a volley in the kitchen? Then you are a volley llama!

Where to play pickleball

Pickleball is currently available at 19 David Lloyd Clubs across the UK: David Lloyd Birmingham, Bristol Emersons Green, Bristol Long Ashton, Bristol Westbury, Cardiff, Cheadle, Cheshire Oaks, Derby, Eastbourne, Farnham, Gidea Park, Hull, Ipswich, Leeds, Northwood, Peterborough, Poole, Ringwood, Southampton, Southampton West End, Swansea, and Woking.

Want to know where you can find a court and experience the next big thing in racquet sports? Simply find your nearest David Lloyd Club to get started.

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