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What is Pickleball and why do all the celebs love it?

With the approach of spring on the horizon, perhaps you’re considering taking your fitness al fresco soon.

Looking to try something new? The pandemic prompted many to take their exercise outside, and one particular sport has soared in popularity across the pond.

Enter: pickleball, a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis, which is considered slightly less physically demanding than other games, and centred around having fun. Of course in competition it can get quite aggressive, but casual players of all ages have taken to pickleball, making it the fastest growing game in America and it’s now growing rapidly in popularity in the UK. Oh, and the Clooneys, Kardashians and Leonardo DiCaprio are all avid fans. Intrigued yet?

How come everyone’s talking about pickleball?

The celeb's are all at it. Back in 2019, the Kardashians tried their hand at pickleball on their reality TV show while using their own method of scoring. Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly plays “every day,” according to Vanity Fair, and the Clooneys are also big fans. Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates are known to have enjoyed a game alongside Ellen DeGeneres, who is also hooked; and Robbie Williams and Novak Djokovic once played together at a charity event. The list goes on.

Now that it’s becoming more widely played outside of the US, die-hard fans are hopeful the sport might one day be played at Olympic level.

Why is it called pickleball?

The game of pickleball is understood to have been born in Washington back in 1965, when two dads invented the game to alleviate the boredom of their families one summer’s day and make use of on old badminton court.

As for the origins of its name, there are two versions: one related to a dog and the other to a boat, but it’s generally accepted that it was named by one of the inventor’s wife, Joan.

How do I play pickleball?

You can play the game on a badminton court. You’ll also need a lightweight racquet or 'paddle' and perforated ball which makes it easier to swing. Underhand serves and a two-bounce rule before starting volleys also feature. In rallies, the point can be won if you have served, but without a serving start you can only win the next serve.

The front lines on the court mark the no volley zone, known as the “kitchen”, where you can serve your opponents “dink” shots. In simple terms, this is a shot from kitchen to kitchen that manoeuvres the ball with more finesse than your routine smash shots. It makes it very hard for your opponent to return the shot after letting it bounce, as pickleballs don’t bounce very high.

Like in table tennis, a set is won by the first to 11 points won with a two-point margin.

Where can I play pickleball in the UK?

This locator on Pickleball England allows you to locate your nearest club.

What pickleball equipment & kit do you need and where to buy it?

You’ll need a paddle and pickleball balls. All the equipment you need is available at Pickleball World.

Credit: Evening Standard 2022.


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