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16 May . 2023

What's The Big Deal With Pickleball?

‘Sweeping the nation’ is a pun that would be better off describing the renaissance of curling, yet pickleball has become the newest and greatest sport that’s taking over America. Some say it’s too boring to watch, others complain the ‘plink-plonk’ noise is distressing, but the scariest part is that pickleball can be genuinely…fun?

Tehaleh is no stranger to pickleball. Trilogy at Tehaleh has its courts on full display as residents gather in gaggles, pickle balling the days away. It can be said that master planned communities have had a proliferative effect on the sport’s spread. The smaller court size and slower ball movement makes pickleball feel more like ping pong than tennis, making it less impactful on the knees, back and hips. Plus, the social atmosphere is fluid. Short games, water breaks, changing partners: it’s a cinch to get along with your fellow players.

Generations brought together

The influence of elder pickleball players on the sport has certainly carried on beyond just one generation. Its popularity in gym class, at universities, in public parks, and private clubs has turned pickleball into a multi-generational sport. Anyone can drop in and play at a public court!

It's ping pong with pizzazz. Badminton with bounce. Tennis with checker tactics. Inexpensive. Competitive. Casual. Chatty. It’s a sport that says ‘come as you are’ while maintaining its own unique Pacific Northwest roots.

The sport not named after a dog

Just north of Tehaleh, a ferry away and nearly 6 decades ago, a group of Bainbridge Island neighbors found themselves so incredibly bored that they would create TikTok…no…pickleball.

Rumor has it the sport was named after the family dog Pickle who loved to chase after the ball, but this myth has been debunked – even though that story sounds better on paper.

Pickleball was inspired by pickle boats in crew. These pickle boats are made up of rowers of varied ability and skill. It’s a mish mash of talent. The best, the beginners, the ambitious? All there. The boat-inspired reason corresponds to an essential part of pickleball: switching teams and playing with just about anyone. No matter the skill level, any player is welcome.

Pickleball grew quietly over the years and in the past decade it has become the fastest growing sport in the US. On March 28th, 2022, pickleball became Washington’s official state sport. Sorry, birding!

Enough history! How do you play pickleball?

Without getting into the official rulebook, here are the basic rules that will get you started:

  • A game is played to 11.
  • All serves must be underhand (sorry Andy Roddick fans) and both feet need to be behind the back line.
  • You can only score if your team is serving.
  • Call out the score before serving.
  • Serve diagonally. An “in” serve goes beyond the “kitchen” line.
  • Get to know the kitchen: the line in the middle running parallel to the net divides the service area from the kitchen. The kitchen is the divided area closest to the net. You cannot hit the ball midair when you’re in the kitchen as it acts as a “do not enter” zone.
  • If the ball bounces in the kitchen you can enter the kitchen. If the ball is hit midair while you’re in the kitchen, you’ll lose the point on a fault.
  • Service rules. You get 2 serves per team. The first serve starts for the player on the right side. The second serve will go to the player who did not serve first. Well, why not say “the server on the left”? That’s because the first serve always starts on the right side of the court, and if you win 3 points as the server, and then lose the following point, the second player will not be on the left side.
  • Keep in mind, the first serve of a game is technically the second serve. To start the game, one team goes first (whoever has the ball, a flip of a coin, or rock/paper/scissors). If that server loses the service point, then the ball is handed over to the other team. This begins the regular service rules noted above. Why? Them’s the rules.
  • How about winning? It’s as simple as counting to 11…before your opponent does of course. If the score is, say, 10-10, the winning team must win by 2 points (i.e. 12-10). Never give up, never surrender.

While pickleball might seem intimidating at first, the community is willing to show you the ropes and teach you how to play. Some public places even provide extra paddles and pickleballs if you don’t have them, so you’re likely to find yourself in good company. The best way to learn is to get out there and play.

If you’re intrigued by Washington state’s official sport and want to be in a pickleball hotspot, reach out to us and we’ll show you what makes Tehaleh the perfect home for the pickleball curious.

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