What is pickleball exactly?
For the uninitiated, pickleball is something of a mix between tennis, racquetball and ping pong. Players use special paddles and a wiffle ball, and games take place on tennis courts with specific pickleball lines. Nets and court sizes are smaller than their tennis counterparts, and the most common game is doubles, although singles is also an option. It has its own set of quirky rules — for instance, try to stay out of the “kitchen”— but they’re easy to learn.
The game is also quick, making it a convenient way to get in some exercise. Games in a typical league run only 15 minutes each — you can get in as little or as much as you want. Brown likes to go for broke. “I wear my fitness tracker when I play and after two hours, I’ve moved the equivalent of four miles of walking,” he says. “But the nice thing is that if you’re playing doubles, you can get in a workout without killing yourself.”
Pickleball is inexpensive and requires minimal gear
Pickleball is also affordable, making it accessible to all. A beginner can pick up a basic wooden paddle and balls at retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods or on Amazon for around $30, although prices for composite paddles can run into the hundreds of dollars. As the game grows and spreads throughout the country, access to many municipal courts is free, and even league play is relatively cheap when compared to other racquet sports.
Because most pickleball games are played on retrofitted tennis courts, it’s quick and easy for a parks and recreation department to get the game up and running, too. “You don’t need dedicated courts, so with some tape and a portable net, you can be good to go within a half hour,”
There’s no shortage of information available for the beginner on up to the elite, from a dedicated YouTube channel, to a bi-monthly magazine, and even books on the topic.
Pickleball is a great family sport, too. Anyone can play, from eight-year olds up to 100-year olds. It’s great for hand-eye coordination for younger kids.