Peculiar Pastimes: Pickleball


Pickleball has gained lots of popularity recently due to the low cost , easy accessibility, and the flexibility of the sport allows all ages to play.

Charlie Raynor

Pickleball has taken the world by storm. The game, previously known by few people, has now evolved into the fastest-growing sport in America. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, more pickleball players or “picklers” are starting to play everyday.

Founded in 1965 by a group of boys in Washington, pickleball was originally played on an old badminton court with spare ping-pong paddles and a plastic wiffle ball. The boys relied heavily on badminton rules and focused on making sure the whole family would be able to enjoy the sport, not just younger generations.

The rules of the game are relatively simple, with little changing over the past 57 years. A pickleball court resembles a condensed tennis court and can be played in singles or doubles. The game starts when a player serves the ball underhanded across the court, after which a rally can commence. Each team continues until there is a fault and the opposing team is awarded a point.

What makes pickleball unique is the non-volley zone, or the “kitchen.” This is a 14 foot rectangle that extends seven feet out from both sides of the net, in which a player cannot volley the ball when any part of their body is touching the zone. For a player to be in the kitchen, the ball must bounce on their side of the zone first. When the ball does not bounce in the kitchen, players can volley the ball like a badminton game. However, if any part of their body crosses the non- volley zone during a volley, the other team is awarded a point. The first team to score 11 points wins the match.

Many believe the sport’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past two years because of its affordability. Pickleball is a relatively inexpensive sport to pick up, with most expenses coming from a racquet and a ball. A set of approved pickleball racquets and four balls only costs about $60.

The sport’s easy accessibility plays a factor in its rise as well; it does not have to be played on a court. As long as there is a small net, it can be played anywhere, even though there are over 38,000 indoor and outdoor courts across the United States according to the New York Times.

Almost anyone can start playing the sport with ease. Many pickleball players are aged 55 and older, as the game requires less movement and a slower-paced environment than tennis. However, pickleball’s popularity is fastest-growing in people aged 24 or lower.

Even with its slower-paced style of play, pickleball can actually be a great source of exercise. One study from Western Colorado University found that after 30 minutes of playing pickleball doubles, players’ heart rates averaged 109 beats per minute and they burned 354 calories, which is on par with yoga and hiking.

With new courts popping up around many parts of Monmouth county and hundreds starting it each day, it is evident that pickleball is here to stay as a fun, relaxing sport that everyone can enjoy.