How To Get Started In Pickleball: A Beginner’s Guide
Pickleball is in a unique position in that the sport isn’t that expensive and it’s also simple to learn.
The basics of what you’ll need
A pickleball paddle
The pickleball paddle is our tool of the trade. It’s the primary piece of equipment that you will own throughout your pickleball journey. It’s the centerpiece. We’ll go into more detail later, but I just want to give you some basics.
Pickleball paddles, similar to other sporting equipment, can be made up of different types of materials that do different things. Some manufacturers make paddles with plastic cores make them with aluminum cores. Others cover their paddles with fiberglass while some finish it with graphite.
There are a wide array of paddles to choose from. They typically range from $75 to $150 in price and have drastically different levels of construction quality. See some suggestions below.
There are certainly cheap paddles out there that you can choose from, but selecting a paddle as a beginner is more about what you should avoid, rather than what you should get. Here are some things you should avoid:
Nomex and aluminum core paddles.
Elongated or “blade” paddles. These are the skinny looking paddles.
Avoid wooden paddles of any kind.
Paddles that are under 6.5 oz, or over 9 oz.
As long as you avoid these types of paddles, you will be in a solid starting position.
Oh boy, shoes. The topic of shoes is a vast and slightly controversial topic in the pickleball world. There is a consensus on what shoes are fine for pickleball, but there is still some debate going on about this.
Spoiler alert: open shoes, hiking boots, and swim shoes are not suitable for pickleball. Where things get foggy is with running shoes. A lot of people will start playing pickleball with their running shoes because it’s the most common type of sports shoe seen and it’s the most convenient. But this can be a disastrous choice. To avoid injury in pickleball, you will need sturdier shoes, such as court shoes. Court shoes, similar to tennis shoes give you support on all sides of your shoe. This is great for the constant lateral you see in pickleball. Head over to our sponsor retail store, on Wilmington Rd, Match Set and get fitted for court shoes!
A place to play
There are a handful of ways to find local pickleball play locations. If you don’t know anyone that plays, then you’ll have to seek out some locations on your own. There are plenty of options available for you though, and most of them are inexpensive (another benefit of pickleball).
Basic game knowledge
If you’ve played any other kind of racket sport before whether it was tennis, ping pong or badminton you are already light years ahead. If you haven’t, don’t worry about it! Pickleball is easy to learn, and you will pick it up just by playing. There are plenty of beginner friendly pickleball locations out there as well that will help you learn the game.
The key is just to have fun. You can read up on the rules of pickleball here. But below are some key things to remember.
First, make sure you bring some water. It’s important to stay hydrated while playing pickleball.
The kitchen rule
This is one of the most notorious rules in pickleball. The kitchen (also called the non-volley zone) is a section of the court that is 7 feet from the net on each side. Here is the kitchen rule in a nutshell:
You cannot volley a ball while your feet are inside the kitchen, or if the momentum from you hitting a volley makes you step into the kitchen.
A volley is simply where you hit the ball in mid-air before the ball has bounced. If the ball bounces, you can safely step into the kitchen to hit it. But if it hasn’t hit the ground yet and you volley it while in the kitchen, then it’s a fault. Remember, this is only for volleys. If the ball has already bounced then you can be in the kitchen as much as you want.
The reason why this rule exists is so that people don’t stand at the net and just smash everything over. That would obviously be ridiculous. The kitchen rule stops this from happening.
The general strategy behind the kitchen is to put your feet 1-2 inches behind the kitchen line. When it’s time to volley a ball, make sure you force yourself not to step forward. It takes time to get used to, but it’s the best way to train yourself. Trust me, you will step forward into the kitchen many times and get a fault, but so do we all. I did it multiple times when I was a beginner.
The double bounce rule
This is another notorious rule that catches beginners all the time. Back when I was a beginner, this rule would get me at least a few times a match. It’s quite hilarious when someone messes up with the rule because it’s pretty easy to understand. Here’s the rule:
The double bounce rule means that the ball must bounce once after the serve and return serve.
What this means is that when someone serves the ball, the return server cannot hit it out of mid-air (volley). Also, when the return server hits it back over to the serving team, they also cannot hit it out of mid-air. Hence, the name “double bounce rule.” It must bounce on each side once before any volleys can begin.
I hope this guide has helped you get more comfortable with pickleball. When starting out in pickleball, just try to have fun and enjoy yourself. All of the minute details will reveal themselves over time and you’ll be able to tackle them one-by-one.
Looking to find or join a group? Let us know here and we will help pair you up!
Looking for places to play in town? Check out our locations and open play times here!
Looking for a lesson to get you started? Reach out to one of our pros, check out the list here!
Looking to find a beginner lesson or group? View some here or Let us know here!