What is Pickleball and How Do You Play?


What is Pickleball or better yet, how do you play pickleball?

These are two of the most popular questions being asked on the internet today. Everyone is crazy about Pickleball! Although the sport has been around since 1965, it has gained a lot of momentum during the past couple of years. In fact, the USA Pickleball Association says that more than 4.2 million players have picked up a paddle since 2020.  And that number continues to grow each and every day. Likewise, pickleball equipment is evolving and manufacturers are creating ground-breaking products to help the new pickler spice up their game. Now there are a wide variety of paddles, balls, and other gear used to play Pickleball.  Not to mention pickleball shoes and apparel. During the past few years, these items have gone from fad to fabulous and there is still more to come.

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a fun and easy-to-play sport. It is enjoyed by all ages, genders, and skill levels. It’s a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.  The game is commonly played as doubles but can also be played as singles. It is played on a modified court, smaller than a standard tennis court, yet larger than an average ping-pong surface. Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors and courts can be converted in a matter of minutes, with special tape and a net. The standard pickleball net is approximately 22 feet long and 3 feet tall. It is placed in the center of the court and used to divide the court into two playing sides.  Pickleball is different from tennis because athletes use a paddle and a plastic ball. In tennis, athletes use a racket that has strings and plays with an inflated rubber ball that is covered in felt.

Pickleball balls are also different.  They have a particular pattern and texture depending on their playing field. Indoor balls have 26 holes while outdoor balls have 40 small holes.

People are setting down their racquets, albeit temporarily, and picking up a paddle. They are hitting the pickleball courts and for good reason. In addition to keeping up with hand-eye coordination, the game promotes balance, agility, and mental awareness.  It’s also great for tennis players who aren’t ready to retire their racquets but are nursing an injury such as a hip, joint, or shoulder problem.

Pickleball Video

How do you play Pickleball?

One of the most challenging parts of learning how to play Pickleball is learning how to keep score.  I promise that once you have this down, the rest is a piece of cake!  To determine which team serves first you can hold one or two fingers behind your back and the team that guesses the correct number of fingers gets to choose whether they want to serve or receive.  You can also write the number down on a piece of paper, do a coin toss, or play rock, paper, scissors.  Once the service team is decided, the player on the right (or in tennis lingo on the duce side) will starts the service rotation.  The very first player to serve the ball will announce the score as zero, zero, two (0-0-2).  The first number represents your team’s score.  The second is your opponent’s score. And the third is which servers you are.  The ball is served underhand, diagonally to one of the opponents.  It must bounce past a designated area called the Kitchen, and in between the center, side, and baselines.  There is a two-bounce rule in Pickleball. This means that the serve must bounce, and so must the return of serve. It does not have to be targeted at a specific player, but in the event, it does not bounce, play is automatically stopped and the ball follows its service rotation.

For example, if the first server calls 0-0-2, then the ball is exchanged between all players until it is hit out, by the serving side, the ball is moved to the opposite side of the court, and that is called “side out”.  The first server on the opposing team calls the score 0-0-1.  He or she is the first server.  Play resumes and the process is repeated until one team reaches 11 points. There are strategies and certain shots that are highly effective, such as the dink, but all in all the objective is to close in on the net, but not step in the kitchen.

Pickleball is played on both a competitive level and in a social setting.


Not only is the game of Pickleball growing, but so is the apparel selection. Brands like K-Swiss, Fila, Pickleball Bella, and Baddle are offering shirts, shorts, skirts, and accessories. Even Original Penguin clothing by Munsingwear is getting in good graces with the pickleball community. The golf apparel manufacturer has been synonymous with a league of legends. Some of the iconic names who have worn the logo include Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Arnold Palmer, and Clint Eastwood. Penguin and Grand Slam were named the official apparel of the USA Pickleball. Both brands are a division of Perry Ellis International. The new clothing line embodies American sportswear with the modern-minded Pickleballer.



Different from a tennis racket, a pickleball paddle does not have strings. It also has a much shorter handle and is significantly smaller. Paddles are composed of wood, graphite, and other materials. They come in different weights and slightly different shapes. Paddles also have different finishes.

Take for example the Lancer Midweight by Baddle. This manufacturer uses the latest surface technology and has a fiberglass finish.  The paddle has a thick polymer core to help maintain stability across the entire face. It is a mid-weight version and was designed for control and touch.

Technically speaking, pickleball is a game of dinks. Your paddle should have less power and a whole lot of control. It should also have some comfort features but you can always add an overgrip to reduce slippage and absorb vibration.



Pickleball shoes and tennis shoes are similar, but not identical. They have complimentary tread patterns, especially in-door court shoes. Since the motion on a pickleball court is side to side, shoes should be lightweight, flexible, and very comfortable. Trust me when I tell you it’s easy to lose track of time on the pickleball court!

The Acacia Ultrashot’s are a top-performance shoe. They are endorsed by professional Pickleballers Tyler Loong, and Corrine Carr. They also come in unisex sizing and can be worn indoors or outdoors. This shoe is constructed of a ProFlex™ material, an elasto-polymer fiber membrane, and has a ProSole™. Combine these traits and you wind up with a relatively lightweight, comfort-centric shoe that has great breathability and excellent stability.

Pickleball shoes can also have a variety of other features.  Some are water-resistant, while others are shock absorbent.  Some have extra cushioning and others are ideal for pivoting. Regardless if you choose a pickleball or tennis shoe, it should have a non-marking sole and help you perform at your maximum.


Be sure to check out our wide selection of pickleball gear, clothing, and shoes at TennisExpress.com, and happy dinking!


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