CHARLOTTE, NC, February 19, 2018.: Believe it or not, the latest sport that is all the rage has been around for more than half a century.
Originating in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, “Pickleball” was the accidental result of an attempt to play badminton without a shuttlecock at the home of former State Representative Joel Pritchard.
In Pickleball, necessity is the mother of invention
One Saturday afternoon after Pritchard had returned from a round of golf with a couple friends, he found his family completely bored because they were not able to play badminton. The shuttlecock was missing.
Not to be discouraged, a Wiffle ball was substituted, the net was lowered, fabricated paddles were made out of plywood from a nearby shed and Voila, “Pickleball” was born.
Incorporating elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis, two, three or four players use paddles to hit a perforated ball similar to a Wiffle ball. At 20×44-feet, court dimensions for either singles or doubles are the same as a doubles badminton court with several variations that make it distinct.
As with a tennis court, the playing surface has two court areas that are divided by service lines on each side of the net.
Unlike tennis, however, there are rectangular inner courts called “non-volley zones” that extend seven feet from the net to the front line of each service court.
Thus, service areas are basically square boxes which are beyond the inner non-volley zones.
How to play Pickleball
Serves are made with an underhand stroke allowing for contact to begin play by coming from below waist level. Similar to other paddle or racquet sports that use a net, serves are made from behind the baseline diagonally from the right service box to the left or vice versa.
Like table tennis, scoring only occurs when a player or team is serving.
Perhaps the unique aspect of pickleball is the non-volley zone which is off-limits unless a defender must play a ball that bounces in that area. Otherwise, a player must exit before playing a volley.
A game consists of 11-points but a winner must lead by two points to be declared victorious.
Tournament games are usually played to either 15 or 21 points with teams changing sides when the total points reach eight or 11 respectively.
One unusual pickleball twist is that on the initial serve, a player or a team is allowed only one fault before the opponent wins the serve. After that, each side gets two faults before losing their service.
For the most part, faults are similar to other racquet/net sports which include:
• not hitting the serve into the opponent’s diagonal service zone
• not hitting the ball beyond the net
• hitting the ball or not hitting after the 2nd bounce on one side of the net
• hitting the ball out of bounds
• volleying the ball on the service return
• volleying the ball on the first return by the serving side
• stepping into the non-volley zone (the first seven feet from the net, also known as the ‘kitchen’) in the act of volleying the ball.
Wheelchair rules for Pickleball
Rules vary slightly for disabled players using wheelchairs in that the chair is seen as part of the player’s body. Another major distinction is that a server in a wheelchair must be stationary.
Wheelchair competitors are also allowed two bounces rather than the single bounce of a standup player.
Some sources claim the game got its name from the Pritchard family’s dog who was called “Pickles.” Others say the term is derived from a “pickle boat” which was the last fishing boat to return home with its daily catch.
According to Joel Pritchard’s wife, “Pickles” the dog did not become a family member until they had been playing the game for two years. As a result, Pickles the pup was actually named after the game rather than the other way around.
Over the last half-century, the game has grown in popularity in about eight countries. With the growing enthusiasm for the sport, don’t be surprised to see it eventually wind up as an event in the Summer Olympics. Or the Summer Para-Olympics.
And just to add to the tradition, just as cricket players always stop their matches for tea, perhaps, just for fun, pickle players could take a break to eat cucumber sandwiches, with the crust trimmed from the bread, of course.\
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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