News, Culture & Society

Playing Pickleball Outside the USA

If you live in any country besides the USA you are most likely wondering what the heck is Pickle Ball and why would I choose to play it anyway?

Well, the answer to the first part of your question is that PickleBall is a paddle-based game with similarities to tennis that has only existed since  1963 when an American family man came back home with some friends from a game of golf.

He wanted to play badminton with his kids but couldn’t find a shuttlecock.  So, rather than nipping down the shops to buy a new shuttlecock, he and his mates decided to invent a new game using a plastic golf ball that was available. And they manufactured some wooden bats to go along with it and there you are…Pickle Ball was born.

The game is now very popular in the States and is getting more popular each year although it has yet to be adopted overseas to any large measure.

Moving to the second half of your question, Pickle Ball has a number of advantages over either badminton or tennis:

  • The equipment needed to play is a lot less expensive and longer-lasting than the cost of tennis balls, shuttlecocks, and the associated racquets.
  • The game is easier to learn and play and you and your friends or family can have an enjoyable game without needing prior practice or training.
  • You don’t need a high level of fitness to play the game so players from young to old can get involved with little chance of injury.
  • The area needed to play is smaller than needed for playing tennis.

The main disadvantage is somewhat a matter of perspective. The journey starts with finding a court and you will be very hard-pressed to find one in your local area! Though there are some courts outside the USA they are normally in holiday resorts catering to American tourists. However this article is really aimed at those of an adventurous and self-reliant nature who are quite capable of finding a suitable site, hopefully in your own back garden, to create your own court.

The Pickle Ball court

The original dimensions of a pickleball court are exactly the same as a badminton court (6.1m x 13.4m) though as players can field shots from outside the court a playing area of 9.1 m by 18.2 m is needed.

The court is normally made of clay or concrete or another hard surface to ensure a consistent bounce. Notwithstanding this aspect, it may be that you might only have a lawn area available so be prepared to make adjustments. Possibly in the size and nature of your

Keeping it Short

Pickleball (give a tennis ball a try) or possibly in ensuring the grass is kept very short and the ground is kept dry and hard.

The official net required is similar in size to a tennis net though a badminton net would also work. Actual shots at PickleBall are a lot less powerful than is possible in tennis so a lighter net would be sufficient. The net height should be 1.55m at the ends and 1.52m at the center.

The Pickle Ball is similar to a hollow plastic golf ball being around 76mms in diameter and weighing 30gms with holes designed to add lift and slow the ball down.

In the end, though, the basis of any good game is a simple set of rules and Pickle Balls’ are very easy to understand.  The game itself is similar to tennis where the server serves from the back of the court to an area diagonally across to the receiver.

The ball must be allowed to bounce once before being returned. There are areas on both sides of the net called “ The Kitchen”  where the ball cannot be hit as a volley but must be allowed to bounce first.

The general strategy is to try to keep your opponent back at the baseline while moving close to the kitchen area which gives you better angles to return the ball for a winning shot.

In the USA the game has progressed in less than 60 years from the original backyard enthusiasts to a popular sport played at hundreds of official sites all across the country. There are various online sites that show where the courts are situated and allow players to make bookings and even give up-to-date wind conditions for outside courts.

In other countries, this could be how the sport will develop in the future but for now, it will be up to individuals and families to create the infrastructure themselves.

In Conclusion

The fact that Pickle Ball has proved so popular is because it is an easy and fun game that can be played by everybody without the need to spend a lot of money.