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One of the most popular sports for people to play these days is pickleball. Contrary to its name, pickleball doesn't involve pickles in any way. Instead, it's kind of like a cross between ping-pong and badminton. Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America, and it's pretty easy for anyone to play, from little kids to elderly people.

The History of Pickleball

Pickleball was invented in the 1960s by Bill Bell and Joel Pritchard, who were looking for something fun for their families to do during an afternoon on Bainbridge Island in Washington. They had a badminton court, but they couldn't find any of the equipment to play badminton. What they could find was some ping-pong paddles and a plastic ball, so they used those. Over the course of a weekend, they tinkered with the height of the net, and then next weekend, they shared their invention with a friend, Barney McCallum, who helped them to create a set of rules for their new game. As they shared pickleball with friends, the sport spread.

But why is it called pickleball? You can blame boaters for that. Joan Pritchard, Joel's wife, named the new sport pickleball because the way it had been invented reminded her of pickle boats in rowing. A pickle boat is a rowing crew made of leftover members of other teams, and pickleball is a sport played with equipment left over from other sports. It's said that the name "pickle boat" comes from fishing fleets of yore; a boat that stopped to pickle its catch would be the last boat to return to port.

Benefits of Learning Pickleball for Kids and Adults

Like a lot of other sports, pickleball can give you a great way to exercise. Because pickleball is really fun, you're more likely to want to play it, and when you do, you can get a workout that's good for your heart, lungs, and muscles. You'll also work on your hand-eye coordination as you serve and hit the ball. Because it's played on a fairly small court, you won't need to run around like you would if you were playing tennis, which makes it easier to play pickleball if you're not in great shape. You also don't have to be good at sports: Pickleball is easy to learn and not all that hard to play, so anyone can do it.

Pickleball Equipment

If you want to play pickleball, you'll need to start by finding somewhere to play. More and more parks and playgrounds are adding pickleball courts all the time, and you can also find gyms with indoor courts. Then, you'll need paddles and a ball. Your equipment should also include a water bottle and good sneakers that will support your ankles as you move around the court.

Learning Form and Technique

Playing pickleball requires a few basic skills. Start by adopting the ready stance, facing the opposite court with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your knees bent. Then, you'll need to serve; the ball should be served underhand and below the waist. Once the ball is in play, stay on the balls of your feet as you move around the court. You can hit the ball either forehand or backhand, either before or after the ball bounces on your side of the court. As you get more experience, you can work on mastering different types of strokes. For instance, a dink is a gentle hit intended to make the ball bounce very low on the other side of the net, while a drive is a shot taken as hard as you can.

Pickleball Safety

Pickleball is a pretty safe sport to play, but injuries are always possible with any sport. To keep yourself safe, make sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you're playing doubles pickleball, this should include your partner: Communicate with them to avoid bumping into each other and getting hurt. You should also be sure to stretch before you play, which can lessen the odds of injury. Bring plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated throughout the game. But water belongs in a bottle, not on the court: Never play on a wet court, as you're much more likely to slip and fall.

Playing and Scoring the Game

Playing pickleball is pretty simple. One player serves the ball diagonally over the net, and then players on both sides hit the ball back and forth until someone fails to return it or the ball goes out of bounds. The team that's serving can score points: If their opponent fails to return the ball or hits it out of bounds, they get one point. If the team that's serving does one of those things, the next player gets to serve. If you're playing doubles, the right to serve rotates through both players on one side, then both players on the other side. Pickleball games are usually played to 11 points, and the winning team must win by two points.

Edited by: Ben Thompson