Have you heard of pickleball? If you haven’t, you will. It’s the fastest-growing recreational sport in America, according to a report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. As of 2019, more than three million Americans are playing the game, a crazy combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong. There’s even a Pickleball television channel.
As newbies, we’ve found pickleball to be a great way to get exercise and spend time with friends, especially mixed doubles. Right now our goals aren’t very lofty. We’d be happy not to get pickled, the equivalent of getting “skunked.”
The game has been around since the sixties and is especially popular with older seniors. In fact, more than 20 percent of all players are 65 or older. It’s perfect for people who love tennis but can’t get around the court like they used to.
And because the court is smaller, you don’t have to chase as many balls around. You also don’t need a great overhand serve.
Pickleball is played on a tennis or badminton court. Paddles are lightweight and resemble ping pong paddles but they’re heavier and give you greater control. You serve underhand across a net and the game is on.
Although it’s purely recreational for most people, professional tournaments are played on a regular basis around the country. The championship match for any tournament is played on the “Pickledome” court.
The game is growing so fast, tennis and recreational centers can’t keep up with the demand for court time. Many tennis centers have added pickleball lines on the courts so they can do double duty. Other centers are adding purpose-built pickleball courts.
The sport is also one of the most popular activities at retirement communities. Many new lifeplan communities are incorporating pickleball courts into their development plans and, in some cases, they’re replacing tennis courts.
Pickleball is all about fun. To give you an idea, here’s some of the more colorful slang used in the game:
Dillball: A shot that is inbounds and has bounced once, a live ball.
Falafel: A dead or short shot due to hitting the ball with little or no power.
Kitchen: Slang term for the Non-Volley Zone.
Non-Volley Zone (NVZ): The seven-foot front section of the court on either side of the net. Pickleball players are not allowed to volley the ball in this zone. It includes all lines surrounding the zone. Also known as “The Kitchen” and the NVZ.
“Pickle!”: Warning shouted out by the server to alert all players on the pickleball court they’re about to serve.
Pickled: The equivalent to getting “skunked” in other sports, scoring zero points in a whole game. If you lose a pickleball game 11-0, you’ve been “pickled.”
Pickledome: Court where the championship match in a tournament is played. Something similar to center court in tennis.
Pickler: A pickleball addict. A pickleball freak who can’t stop talking about the sport!