If it seems like just about everyone is talking about pickleball, you're not imagining things. Pickleball, tennis' more accessible cousin, is America's fastest-growing sport. More than 2.5 million people play annually, which might explain why the sports world's elite -- LeBron James, Kevin Dunant, Drew Brees, Naomi Osaka and Pat Mahomes included -- have invested in the sport. MLP, or Major League Pickleball, is set to add 12 more teams to its existing 12-team league this year.
There's never been a better time to play pickleball. Bonus, you don't need to be sporty to be good at this sport.
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What you need to know about pickleball
If you haven't been coerced by your overly-enthusiastic sporty friend to grab a paddle and play, your time is coming. Pickleball is growing by leaps and bounds because it's easy to play. More importantly, pickleball is really, really fun.
How did pickleball get its name?
Pickleball has actually been around since 1965. Pickleball lore attributes the sport's name as a nod to the originator's dog, Pickles. Other pickleball myths attribute the name to "pickle boats," a rowing term used to describe a motley crew of rowers put together to compete in random races.
Where do I play pickleball?
Pickleball courts can be indoors or outdoors, though a driveway (minus the cars), level backyard or any flat space can substitute for an official court. Many public tennis courts have converted courts into pickleball courts. A quick Google search with help you find local, public courts.
Do I need to be an athlete to master pickleball?
No. In fact, you don't even need to master pickleball to play the game. The scoring rules might take a minute to remember, but the game requires less athletic ability to master than tennis.
Isn't pickleball just tennis with cocktails?
Well, not exactly. But we like the way you're thinking.
Pickleball is played on a shorter court than tennis. The paddle is lighter than a tennis racket, and a pickleball ball is lighter than a tennis ball. Because of this, pickleball is served with an underhand or drop serve -- a more approachable serve than tennis' more sophisticated alternative.
How to shop for pickleball paddles, balls and gear
If you're new to pickleball, we suggest pausing on a big investment and easing in with high-quality, but affordable gear. Here's what you need to know.
How to shop for a pickleball paddle
Look for a lightweight paddle that balances core materials and thickness. Your paddle shouldn't feel uncomfortably heavy, but it should feel like it has enough heft to get the ball across the net. You'll want to look for a grip that's comfortable in your hand.
Avoid choosing a pickleball paddle that's too light. You'll miss shots because you're swinging too hard, and the shots you do make will have less power than desired.
Are all pickleball balls the same?
Pickleballs may look like a whiffle ball, but there's actually more to them. When choosing a pickleball ball the weight is key. The ideal pickleball is weighted enough so it won't go missing in the wind, but light enough to stay in play. Choose a quality welded ball that won't crack under pressure. The seam on a balls can impact play so avoid seamed balls when possible.
Wilson Juice Energy Pickleball Paddle
Wilson's Juice Energy Paddle boasts a wide body shape to maximize performance. This paddle's wide sweet spot creates an intensified back and forth. This paddle is a winner, especially for doubles players. It's approved by USA Pickleball for competition.$75 at Amazon
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Shop pickleball balls
Franklin Sports X-40 Outdoor USAPA Approved Balls
These premium quality outdoor pickleballs are constructed with 40 machine-drilled holes for balanced flight pattern and reliable spin. These welded pickleballs are seam free for precise play. They come in four vibrant colors.