Pickleball is a fast-growing sport in the United States. It has over 4.8 million players and has grown by 39.3% from 2020 to 2022. The game originated on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965 and has spread to 25 countries. Pickleball, a sport suitable for players of all ages and abilities, incorporates aspects of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, making it easy to learn.
To play pickleball, players need a paddle, a ball, a net, a court, and appropriate shoes. The court measures 44 feet by 20 feet, divided equally by a net. The left and right serving courts are marked by a center line with a free line seven feet from the net on either side, forming the kitchen. The outer boundaries of the court are the baseline and sidelines.
The rules and field size are the same for singles and doubles pickleball. The serving team scores, and the game ends with a foul, such as when the ball hits the net, goes out of bounds, or bounces twice on its side of the court. The server must perform a second serve on the court and enter the serving area of the opposing team. Both players of a doubles team can serve and score until a forfeit occurs. The server switches sides after each point until a foul occurs.
Players may not hit the ball in the kitchen area unless the ball bounces to their side. The two-bounce rule applies, requiring each team to allow the ball to bounce once on their end before returning it over the net. Players can throw the ball on the fly in the air or bounce it.
The kitchen area, or the non-volley zone or NVZ, is a rectangular area on either side of the net, measuring 7 feet by 20 feet, immediately adjacent to the net. The kitchen area is marked by a line on each side of the court and is also commonly referred to as the “no-volley zone” because players are not allowed to hit the ball while standing inside the kitchen unless the ball has bounced in the kitchen or has passed the kitchen line.
For players looking to improve their skills, strength training is beneficial. Strength training can improve muscle imbalances, posture, joint stability, weight control, coordination, and injury prevention. Strong legs are critical to pickleball, and the forward lunge is an effective exercise that increases explosive power, stability, and mobility. To perform the exercise, start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, step one foot forward, and bend both knees until they are at a 90-degree angle. Keep your core engaged, avoid bending your front knee past your toes, keep your chest up, and keep your weight on your front leg. Push off the front foot to return to the starting position, performing 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.