Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the US and has become especially popular with RVers. We recently discovered this fun game and loved how easy it was to learn. It also gives you an opportunity to enjoy being outside and to meet fellow campers when you are traveling.
According to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association, over 4.8 million people in the US play pickleball. Because it has grown so in popularity, you can now find pickleball courts in all 50 states. People are flocking to this exciting game that does not need a lot of complicated equipment and can be enjoyed by athletes and non-athletes alike. Here are some tips for learning about this fun and social sport that you can play right at your campground on your next trip.
Guest Post by Robin Buck
What Is Pickleball?
Pickleball is an active court sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It can be played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton sized court which is 20 ft x 44 ft. You play with paddles which are smaller than tennis racquets but larger than ping pong paddles. The game ball is plastic with holes in it similar to a whiffle ball.
The game of pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, although we tend to see more doubles matches at RV parks. You don’t need any special clothing and can just wear anything comfortable for a court game. The equipment is inexpensive and doesn’t take up much room, making it easy to bring along in your RV. The game is governed by the USA Pickleball Association which promotes the sport, sanctions tournaments, and manages the rules.
Several versions can be found about the origin of the sport’s interesting name. Back in 1965 three dads were trying to cure the summer boredom of their kids and came up with the game. One story about the name involves the family dog Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it…leading to Pickle’s ball or pickleball!
Why Is Pickleball So Popular?
Pickleball is an inclusive and social sport. It can be played competitively or just for fun. While it can be fast-paced and challenging, it is also easy enough for all ages and abilities to play. We loved that everyone is so welcoming and ready to help you learn the game.
Pickleball is the perfect way to get exercise and stay fit while you are traveling. Because it is affordable, you can get started for much less money than it takes to play many other sports. Once you have a paddle and balls, you can play at campgrounds everywhere without any additional expense.
Another great thing about pickleball is that it was designed to be easy for anyone to learn regardless of age or skill level. Your whole family can take part and enjoy having fun together. You don’t need hours of training or experience to get out on the courts and start having fun. It’s great to meet new friends and have conversations with other campers. Pickleball is perfect for those who are competitive and for those just wanting to enjoy a game without too much strain on the body.
How Do You Play Pickleball?
One of the great things about pickleball is how easy it is to learn. You can get the hang of it quickly if you start with just a few simple rules. After just a short time on the court you will be enjoying the comradery of fellow RVers and having fun. Here are 5 key points to remember:
SCORING: Usually games are played to 11 points, but the winning team must win by 2 points. You can only score points when you or your partner are serving. When playing to 11 points, teams will switch sides of the court when the first team gets 6 points.
SERVING: The serve is done underhand from behind the baseline and is hit diagonally to the opponent on the opposite side of the court. The server keeps serving as long as they win the point, alternating between left and right service boxes on their side of the court. There is no second serve option like in tennis.
The Double Bounce Rule: The serve must hit the ground once before the opposing team can return it. Then the service return must also be allowed to hit the ground once before your team can return it. After that, the ball can either be played after one bounce or hit in the air as a volley. Anyone who lets the ball bounce twice on their side loses the point.
The Non-Volley Zone (NVZ): There is a 7-foot box next to the net on both sides of the court that is nicknamed “the kitchen.” Players are allowed into the NVZ if they are hitting a ball that has already bounced. However, as the name states, players can never volley the ball in the air from inside the NVZ. You can volley the ball from outside the NVZ as long as you do not enter the box. Serves cannot fall inside or touch the NVZ. You might hear the phrase “stay out of the kitchen” when playing – that’s the simple way to avoid giving away points!
Boundary Lines: The ball must stay inside the white boundary lines on either side of the court. If any part of the ball hits the line, then it is considered in bounds (except for the rear kitchen line, which is considered part of the kitchen). Each side is responsible for making the line calls on their side of the net.
With so many pickleball courts out there, many of them in RV parks and campgrounds, you won’t have to look hard to find a place to try this fun sport. You can also check out this website and search any area to locate pickleball courts around the country. The rules are easy to learn, and anyone can enjoy this exciting and social game. When we showed up as beginners, we were surprised at how welcoming and helpful the other players were. Don’t be afraid to give it a try on your next adventure. You will get the hang of it quickly and find that you have made some new friends along the way.
Robin and her husband, Mike, are Air Force veterans and empty nesters who travel full-time in their Entegra Anthem motorhome. Always ready to explore, they love nature and wildlife, meeting new friends, and discovering America’s many hidden gems. Robin chronicles their adventures and experiences on her travel blog RVing with Robin.