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The sport is a mash-up between tennis and ping pong—has been on the rise lately and it's easy to see why: Not only is it a great way to get in some exercise, but it's also low-impact enough that anyone can do it. You don't have to be a pro athlete (or even a regular gym goer) to have fun playing pickleball. It really is accessible for people of all ages. So, it's no wonder the game was named the "fastest-growing sport over the last two years," according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

If you're not already playing pickleball, now is a great time to start. It's easy to learn, but it can get competitive fast so you're going to want to get your game-face on! All you need is a pickleball set and your besties to play with.Pause Icon

So, what are the rules of pickleball? And what gear do you need to play? We're answering all your burning questions about the trending game, including what exactly is pickleball, anyway?

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, ping pong, and badminton into one family-friendly game. It can be played singles or doubles on a court that looks like a tennis court but is much smaller. Instead of tennis rackets, you use paddles and a plastic ball.

Why is it called pickleball?

First invented on Bainbridge Island, Washington back in 1965, pickleball was drummed up by some dads trying to keep their kids entertained on a rainy day. Now that’s something we can all relate to! But where did the funny name come from? There are two theories floating around. First, according to Pickleball USA, the wife of one of the founders (aka dads) started calling the game pickleball because the hodge-podge sport reminded her of the motley crew of rowers that would compete in "pickle boat" races at certain universities. The other story claims that the family dog, whose name was Pickles, inspired the name for the game.

What are the rules of pickleball?

Before you begin, you'll need to find a pickleball court. You can search online to find a court near you or look for a gym or recreation center that has a badminton or pickleball court. There are many pop-up pickleball courts and you can even make your own DIY court in your driveway with the right supplies. Once set up, you'll hit the ball back and forth (similar to tennis) until one player misses. Here are the rules:

  • To serve, the ball must be hit underhand and below waist level. The serve is made diagonally across the court, and it must bounce before the opposite player can hit it back.
  • A point is scored only if you're serving, and the game goes to 11 points (but take note: you must win by two points!).
  • If a point is scored, the serving team will switch sides—meaning the server will move from right to left.
  • There's also something known as a no-volley zone, also called "the kitchen," which is within 7 feet of the net. You're not allowed to volley the ball in this zone.

Still following? While these rules may seem confusing, once you play a game or two, you'll catch on. You can also check out the official rules at USA Pickleball.