Pickleball is a game that was born out of necessity one summer afternoon in 1965 when a loving father and his friends decided to make a game for their bored families. Little did they know just how much this game that was made from different elements of different racquet sports would catch on. Borrowing heavily from tennis, badminton and their creative imaginations, the 3 fathers (Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum) created the game of pickleball. Like the sports it borrows from, it is played on a court – a pickleball court. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Pickleball – Rising Star in Sport
Pickleball is fast rising as a popular sport today. It is not only considered as a hobby or past time but a professional sport with an annual tournament. In April 2017, the second annual U.S. Open Pickleball Championships attracted nearly 1,400 players from 42 states and 14 countries. They were all vying for $35,000 in total prize money. The tournament was played on 46 courts, of which 30 are permanent, at the East Naples Community Park.
The statistics from that tournament show that this new kid on the block sport is fast gaining popularity not just in the US, but the world over. According to statistics released by the USAPA, the pickleball governing body, the number of pickleball players is more than 2.8 million, and that’s just in the US. Not surprisingly, many professional athletes are embracing pickleball as their new main sport, professionals like Steve Kennedy and Simone Jardim just to name a few. Even tennis legends like Andre Agassi are joining the pickleball bandwagon, that must say something about the sport.
In some places, pickleball is becoming so popular it is taking over some hockey rinks. People have simply fallen in love with this sport that was once relegated to the status of an “old people’s” sport due to the small size of the courts, lightweight ball and paddle, and the simplicity of the game. But more and more young people are heading out to the nearest pickleball court to give the sport a try – most become hooked immediately.
Pickleball Court – What’s the Difference?
Pickleball courts may borrow from other sports but they are also unique in their own right. A pickleball court is basically the same size as a doubles badminton court, with pickleball court dimensions also being 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. In pickleball, the same court is used for both singles and doubles play, unlike in tennis and badminton where court dimensions are adjusted for their doubles play.
The height of a pickleball net is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. A typical pickleball court is striped similar to a tennis court, the only difference being that a pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court. And because a pickleball court is similar to a tennis court, it is easy to add pickleball lines on tennis courts without spoiling the tennis court. It is simply a matter of using different colored stripes to set the 2 apart.
A pickleball court also has right and left service courts, like a tennis court, and also has a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net called the “kitchen”. Whether the available courts in your area are tennis courts or badminton courts, they can easily be converted into pickleball courts. Or, if budget and space permit, you can have a court specifically built for pickleball. Obviously, converting a pickleball court will cost less (a couple hundred bucks per court) than building one from scratch, and that is the way most communities are going. The conversion is so simple you can make it a DIY project. All you need is a pickleball court diagram and common sense to follow the basic instructions.
If you do decide to build a pickleball court from scratch, there are many companies that can do a splendid job for you. The minimum pickleball court cost is approximately $15.000, depending on the construction company you decide to work with. For those who can afford this as individuals, club, or committee, it is actually the best option as your court will be specifically designed and built for pickleball, giving it a nice clean look.
Pickleball – Join the Bandwagon
There is no need to wonder why so many people are joining the pickleball bandwagon – you just have to try it to appreciate it. For many, pickleball offers the opportunity to enjoy a sport without having to overexert themselves, especially if they have medical reasons not to. For others, pickleball is a way to enjoy time with friends and family (just like the original pickleball game). For others still, pickleball is a great way to lose weight while having fun. No matter what your reason for playing pickleball is, I can guarantee you one thing – you won’t regret picking a paddle and stepping onto the court.