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The year was 1965. Three dads, whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities, came up with a new game which is part tennis, part badminton, part ping-pong, and a whole lot of fun — pickleball! Played indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net, pickleball utilizes paddles and plastic balls with holes. It can be played as doubles or singles, and enjoyed by all ages. It's also really popular in school physical education classes.

Like ping-pong, wooden paddles are used to strike the ball. Like tennis, the object of pickleball is to keep hitting the ball over a net until your opponent cannot return the ball. When this happens, if you or your teammate has served the ball, you win a point. Otherwise, no point is given, but you win the serve. Points can only be won by the serving team. The first player or team to reach 11 points (win by 2) is the winner.

Since pickleball is designed for fun and exercise, it has a two-bounce rule which eliminates the serve and volley advantage and extends rallies. When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce on its side of the net before returning, and then the serving team must also let it bounce on its side of the net before returning. After the ball has bounced once in each team’s court, both teams may either volley the ball (hit the ball before it bounces) or play it off a bounce (This is called a groundstroke).

The non-volley zone is another unique feature of pickleball. In the area within 7 feet on both sides of the net, volleying is prohibited preventing players from executing smashes close to the net. Sometimes the non-volley zone is referred to as the kitchen.

Often players will hit a dink on a ball that bounced in the non-volley zone. Dinks are soft shots hit intended to arc over the net and land within the opposing non-volley zone either straight across or diagonally crosscourt. Dinks that land close to the net are the most difficult to return because of the steep angle required by your opponent to get the ball over the net.

Other shots include a lob — a lofted shot that sends the ball high overhead and deep into the other court — and an overhead smash — a hard, overhand shot directed downward into the opponent’s court. A drop is a soft shot hit off a bounce from deep in your court, which lands in the other player's non-volley zone close to the net. This is a very difficult shot to return.

You may be familiar with pickleball from your gym class or back yard, but pickleball is also played in tournaments that draw thousands of spectators. People of all ages compete in pickleball tourneys which offer thousands of dollars to the winners. Think about that the next time your gym teacher says you are going to play pickleball in class!

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