Pickleball is aptly described as a cross between doubles tennis and ping pong, with both using the same strategy of returning the ball past your opponents and using less real estate to do so. While it is commonly done on tennis courts, it is also an indoor and outdoor activity, making it a year-round sport for the young and old.
How it works: A square sized paddle is issued to each participant, with a wiffle ball used for the action of the game. Various “stories” for how it originated exist, but my favorite is the Vlasic family created it to stir pickle sales, because they had soured in North America, and had lost their crunch.Ok, this isn’t true at all, but it doesn’t diminish the odd name.
The true origin story is that the game was founded by Joe Pritchard and Bob O’Brian, and the game is named after Pritchard’s dog. Two or four people can play, but most commonly, as I learned while at Yanity Gym by the Ridgefield Playhouse, there are four to a court, two per side. Players are surprisingly civil and conversant throughout it with nary a harsh word said to the other, not even in a teasing way. Ok I did hear one say, “your mother is a hamster and your father smells of elderberries”. Perhaps I had seen too many viewings of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Anyway, these taunts seemed harmless and jovial.
Scoring is relatively easy. Play typically goes to 11 like in Spinal Tap, however 15 or 21 points are also considered. A ball is only allowed one bounce per side before it is ruled ineligible to be returned, and a point is given to the other side. Any ball out of bounds before a bounce is made is given the same criteria. After a team scores each point, the player serving and their teammate switch sides on their courtside.
During play there are several things to be mindful of; the area closest to the net is the “kitchen” (non-volley zone) which comes back about a yard (3 -1/2 ft., totaling 7 ft for both sides) from the net. You are supposed to “stay out of the kitchen”, as if a cook were preparing a meal. Behind this to an area extending about 15 or 20 ft. is the play area. Behind this is the “base line,” like in tennis it is the area you serve from, always underhanded. I found Pickleball to be a good workout, not too stressful or vigorous, but built up a good sweat. Try it. Enjoy the crunch. •