How ’bout a nice game of pickleball?

The “fastest grow sport in the nation” hits the Philadelphia area!

By Nichole Baldino

All websites describe this sport as a mini-tennis game that combines techniques and ideas from tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. It’s played with wood and graphite paddles and unique plastic balls that are similar to a wiffle ball. Pickleball is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It’s named after the cocker spaniel of one of the co-inventors of the game who used to run after loose balls and hide them in the bushes, according to the official USA Pickleball website.

Pickleball, believe it or not, has a strict set of rules; the abbreviated version is five paragraphs long. It begins by stating that “the serve must be hit underhand and each team must play their first shot off the bounce. After the ball has bounced once on each side, then both teams can either volley the ball in the air or play it off the bounce. This is called the ‘double bounce rule’.” No volleying, or hitting the ball before it bounces, is permitted within 7 feet on both sides of the net. This area is also sometimes referred to as the kitchen.

Players can only win points while serving. The game goes to 11 points and a team must win by 2 points, however in some situations the directors can choose to make it 1 point to speed up play.Traditionally Pickleball is played 2 players on each team, however there can be single player games. In this instance, players must serve with their right hand when their score is even and left hand when it’s odd.

Philadelphia is hosting some Pickleball meet-ups at various locations. Currently, you can play outdoors at Pleasant Playground (6757 Chew Avenue) and indoors at Emlen Elementary School (6501 Chew Avenue) on Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm – 9:30 pm and Saturday morning 9:30am – 12:0pm. There are a few other locations and future locations in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs listed online.

Play ball!

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