What sport is… a lifetime activity played by millions of people in the US, played indoors or outside, played in singles or pairs, and speculated to have been named after Congressman Joel Pritchard’s dog “Pickles”?
Drumroll please… Pickleball!
Never heard of Pickleball? No worries, we bet you know more than you think! Pickleball is a court-based net/wall game similar in skills, strategy and rules to badminton, tennis and ping-pong. So if you know about any of those other sports, you are already ahead of the game…the pickleball game, that is!
Whether you are looking to spice up your curriculum with new content or teach pickleball again, the tips and resources below can help you be successful.
Here is a list of the most important rules in pickleball:
- Teams: Singles or doubles format.
- Scoring: One point per score. A game is played to 11, win by two. Only score when holding serve.
- Starting Play: A serve from the baseline initiates each point.
- Serving: One attempt is allowed, unless the ball hits the net and lands inbounds (service let; redo serve). Serve must initiate with both feet behind baseline, hit underhand and below the waist before it bounces. Serve diagonally and beyond the non-volley zone (NVZ).
- Double Bounce Rule: Before volleying, each team’s first shot must bounce.
- Volleying: To hit a ball out of the air before it bounces, players must satisfy the double bounce rule and have both feet behind the NVZ.
- Fault: The loss of serve or a point occurs when service and volley rules are broken, a ball lands out, does not clear the net or touches a player’s body/clothes.
The ‘Bread and Butter’: Facilities & Equipment
‘Dill’y of a Game
Whether watching or playing, knowing the terms below will make you more pickleball-literate:
- Approach Shot: A hit allowing player to come to net.
- Let: Replay of a point.
- Match: A series of games; winner is best of three.
- Non-Volley Zone: Area where no volleys are allowed.
- Pace: The speed of the ball.
‘Sweet’ Skill & Strategy
This game uses similar tactics and skills as other net/wall racquet-type games. Some of the most common skills include:
- Groundstroke: A shot hit after the ball hits the ground.
- Volley: A shot hit before the ball hits the ground.
- Lob: Designed to look like a groundstroke, but hit higher, softer and deeper.
- Drop: Designed to look like a groundstroke, but hit to the frontcourt.
- Serve: Underhand shot used to begin each point.
- Smash: A shot hit hard from above the player’s head.
- Deception: Perform each shot in a way to make it look like all other shots.
- Base Position: Return to center of either baseline or NVZ after each shot.
- Move Opponent: Hit shots to open space to force opponent to move.
What are your experiences teaching or playing pickleball? What advice would you give to someone who has never played the game or a teacher wanting to add this to their curriculum? Post a response below and let us know.
Dr. Scott Townsend
Dr. J. Scott Townsend holds a Doctorate in Physical Education Teacher Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Supervision. He has worked extensively with curriculum and instruction models, more specifically focused on sport education. Read more posts by Dr. Scott Townsend –>
Dr. Derek Mohr
Dr. Derek Mohr, Professor in Health and Physical Edcuation at Appalachian State University, holds a Doctorate in Physical Education Teacher Education with a cognate in exercise physiology from West Virginia University. His focus area is in sport, activity, and fitness pedagogy. Read more posts by Dr. Derek Mohr –>