Pickleball For All!
Easy to Start –
Hard to Stop!
HOW TO PLAY!
A couple of paddles, a ball, and a net, and you are ready to start playing pickleball.
Here are some basic rules:
The Court—The pickleball court measures 20×44 feet—the same size as a doubles badminton court. The same court is used for both singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a 7-foot, non-volley zone in front of the net (referred to as the “kitchen”). Courts can be constructed specifically for pickleball or they can be converted using existing tennis or badminton courts.
The Serve—The server’s arm must be moving in an upward arc when the ball is struck, and paddle contact with the ball must not be made above the waist level. The head of the paddle must not be above the highest part of the wrist at contact. A ‘drop serve’ is also permitted.
Scoring—Points are scored only by the serving team. Games are normally played to 11 points, win by 2.
Two-Bounce Rule—When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning, and then the serving team must let it bounce before returning, thus two bounces. After the ball has bounced once in each team’s court, both teams may either volley the ball (hit the ball before it bounces) or play it off a bounce (ground stroke).
Non-Volley Zone—The non-volley zone is the court area within 7 feet on both sides of the net. Volleying is prohibited within the non-volley zone.
Line Calls—A ball contacting any part of any line, except the non-volley zone line on a serve, is considered “in.” A serve contacting the non-volley zone line is short and a fault.
Faults—A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation. A fault by the receiving team results in a point for the serving team. A fault by the serving team results in the server’s loss of serve or side out.
Visit usapickleball.org for the most updated and complete rules of play.
Want to venture a guess at what is the fastest growing sport in the United States?
Never heard of it? Then read on because nearly 5 million people across the country have become hooked on the game—and, according to USA Pickleball Association, the national governing body of the sport, that number is nearly double of what it was just five years ago.
Pickleball enthusiasts say that If you have ever played tennis, badminton, or ping-pong, you can very quickly get the gist of pickleball. Pickleball contains elements of all three games. You can play singles or doubles. It can be played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net. Players use a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Possibly, the best thing about pickleball is that all ages and skill levels can easily and quickly participate in the game.
The history of pickleball goes back farther than what you might think. 1965. It was invented by three dads—Joel Pritchard, a Republican state representative and later a US congressman; Bill Bell, a businessman; and Barney McCallum, a printing-company owner.
Pritchard and Bell came in from a round of golf to find their kids totally bored while summering on Bainbridge Island, just outside of Seattle. The Pritchard summer home had an old badminton court, but very little equipment to play the game. The two men rounded up some ping-pong paddles and a whiffle ball. Their main purpose in creating the game was to make it playable for adults as well as all their different aged kids.
The court they measured off was small—about a quarter the size of a tennis court.
Once the men realized how well the ball bounced on an asphalt surface, they decided to lower the badminton net to three feet. They also did away with tennis’s power serve. Just a simple overhand serve or a drop serve was agreed on to start play.
The next weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together so rules of the game further minimized the unfairness in height and strength among the participants.
Pritchard once told a reporter that they pretty much worked everything out in four or five days. “What makes it such a great game,’ he stated, “is that the serve isn’t so dominant, like it is in tennis.”
In 1967 Pritchard’s friend and neighbor Bob O’Brien constructed the first permanent pickleball court in his backyard. In 1972, the group formed a corporation to protect the creation of the new sport of pickleball.
Based on interviews with the adult children of Joel and Joan Pritchard, the game was named by their mother. Joan loved the regatta races she had attended in college. The regattas pit the best varsity teams against each other. Afterward, like many college sports, the non-starters would participate in a separate competition. Since at least 1938, the leftover “spares” from multiple universities competed in a just-for-fun “pickle boat” race.
According to Joan, the colleges sort of threw the leftover non-starter oarsmen into these particular pickle boats. She thought pickleball sort of threw bits of other games into the mix (badminton, tennis, ping pong) and decided that ‘Pickle Ball’ was an appropriate name. Son Frank Pritchard says he first heard his mom utter the words “pickle ball” on the court that first summer of 1965. The name stuck. He never heard it called by anything else. Three years later, the family even named their rescued puppy, Pickles!
For the next several years, the game slowly but steadily gained momentum. In 1984, the United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was organized to perpetuate the growth and advancement of pickleball on a national level. The first rule book was published that March.
By 1990, pickleball was being played in all 50 states; and in 2005, a new corporation, USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), was established. Since then, the phenomenon that is pickleball has steadily surged across the United States and internationally. Websites, magazines, social media, equipment manufacturers, media exposure, court construction, organized tournament play for all ages, certified referee programs, branding, a national championship, and even, a Pickleball Hall of Fame have all played in the sport’s recognition.
By the end of 2021, USAPA membership had more than 53,000 members—a 43% increase from the previous year and the largest single growth year to date for the organization. With over 2,300 registered players, the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships presented by Pickleball Central was the largest tournament in the world to date.
Pickleball in Coweta and Fayette
Georgia with its reasonably year long good weather is one of the hotspots in the nation for the growing sport of pickleball. It is reported that the number of public and private pickleball courts in Georgia has more than tripled the past five years. This pickleball enthusiasm surge does not include Atlanta—long known as a tennis town—but rather its surrounding areas, including Coweta and Fayette counties.
The first known pickleball court in Fayette County goes all the way back to 1993. Peachtree City resident Marty Sandlin built a pickleball court in his backyard and taught his kids and neighborhood kids to play. In fact, each July 4th saw a pickleball tournament at the Sandlin home.
Billy Perkins, President of the Newnan Pickleball Association (NPA), credits two different people—unknown to each other—as first bringing pickleball to Coweta in about 2011: Ann McLean, a retired educator who set up a net at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Moreland and started teaching people how to play and Fred Fahy who did the same thing at Coweta Recreation Center. Although neither still live in Georgia—Ann was tragically killed in a Colorado house fire and Fred has moved out of state—their pickleball legacy in Coweta remains.
By about 2010 both counties were seeing the first hints of what would develop into Pickleball mania and both counties had residents who began devoting a lot of time to making pickleball an available sport for residents.
Perkins, as well as Lloyd Smith, now president of PTC-Fayette Pickleball Club, became USAPA pickleball ambassadors for their respective counties. Their job was to promote interest and enthusiasm in the sport as well work with their respective city and county governments in building pickleball courts.
People can learn to play pickleball in their own driveways. Portable nets and sets for pickleball are available in stores and online. Private home construction of pickleball courts is popular and considerably less expensive than building tennis courts.
What has been most important to the popularity of the sport, though, is the growing number of public and country club tennis courts in Coweta and Fayette that have made the conversion to pickleball. The ultimate in public pickleball courts, however, is the construction of a planned pickleball complex from the ground up. Four years ago, the City of Newnan stepped up and approved this idea.
Opened in 2021, The House of Pickleball, known as The HOP is a lighted, 15-court complex. Its design integrates the social aspects of pickleball with the actual play. Individual courts are not fenced off. Players can walk directly from one court to another.
There are viewing areas, shade, a large pavilion, and picnic tables—all laid out around the courts so that players can enjoy play of the game as well as each other.
The HOP is experiencing tremendous popularity and is drawing pickleball players from all around the area, including Peachtree City, Carrollton, Tyrone and Griffin. Open play is free at The HOP, but a yearly fee gives members access to clinics, lessons, round robins, and other events. The HOP’s membership has gone from about 50 prior to the opening of the courts to currently over 400.
The Newnan Pickleball Association, a volunteer led organization, partners with the City of Newnan to run the programs at the facility. Organizers realize that pickleball is a good bet for a town’s economy. The HOP’s two major annual tournaments bring visitors, hotel room bookings, dining, and shopping to the Newnan area.
The pickleball explosion is simple to understand. As Billy Perkins says, “More than 85% who play the game, get hooked on the game!”
For more information about pickleball, visit usapickleball.org, ptcfayettepickleball.com, and newnanpickleball.com.