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Explaining The Wildly Popular Sport Of Pickleball

Crowded pickleball courts are a testament to the popularity of a sport that has taken many communities by storm. A 2023 report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association indicates just under nine million people played pickleball in 2022, which marked a stunning 159 percent increase in participation over just a three-year period.

With such significant increases in participation, pickleball undoubtedly has piqued the curiosity of millions more who have not yet picked up a paddle. Individuals whose curiosity has compelled them to give the sport a try can consider this rundown of pickleball so they’re as prepared as possible upon picking up their paddles.

The sport
Pickleball, invented by a congressman from the state of Washington and two friends in the 1960s, combines components of badminton, ping-pong and tennis. A ball made of plastic is used in pickleball, and the ball is slightly larger than a tennis ball. Tennis courts, which many communities have now re-designated as pickleball courts, are still widely used as playing surfaces for pickleball players. The nets for pickleball are lower than for tennis, and that’s due to science. According to the paddle and apparel manufacturer Paddletrek, after the first bounce a tennis ball retains about 60 percent of its bounce, which means it can reach a height of nearly 46 inches. A pickleball retains between 38 and 44 percent of its energy after bouncing, which means it peaks around 30 to 34 inches. That’s why tennis nets are typically lowered for pickleball competitions.

Is pickleball a team sport?
Socialization is one of the foremost health benefits of pickleball, potentially helping to reduce feelings of loneliness that can increase risk for depression and other conditions. Pickleball can be a team sport if players prefer doubles competitions, but it’s also played in one-on-one settings as well. But even players who prefer singles competitions can reap the socialization benefits of pickleball by engaging with their competitors and the wider community of local players.

When does a pickleball game end?
Debate is ongoing as to whether professional pickleball should institute a shot clock to increase the pace of play, but no such clock currently governs the game. According to USA PickleballTM, games are normally played to 11 points, and players must win by two. Tournament games may play to 15 or 21 (win by two).

The popularity of pickleball has exploded in recent years. Non-players who are curious are urged to give this beloved sport a try.

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