Pickleball FAQs: Most Common Questions & Answers About the Sport of Pickleball

Pickleball FAQs

Below you'll find a list of some of the most common questions we get about the sport of Pickleball including basic rules, court dimensions, the history of Pickleball, player demographics and much more. 

 If there are any questions we haven't answered please let us know so that we can add it to our list of FAQs.

What Size is a Pickleball Court? 

Pickleball Court Dimensions: A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court: 20 feet wide (6.1 m) and 44 feet long (13.4 m) for both singles and doubles matches.

Pickleball Court Specs:

The total playing area (including space around the court) should be a minimum of ​ 30 feet wide (9.1 m) and 60 feet long (18.3 m).  A total size of 34 by 64 feet is preferred. The court lines should be 2 inches (5.1 cm) in width and clearly contrasting with the color of the court surface. Court measurements are made to the outside of the lines.

How High is a Pickleball Net?

Pickleball nets have a height of 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches high in the middle. A center support or post may be used to maintain the height of 34" at the center of the court.

The top of the net should be covered with a 2 inch (5 cm) wide white binding over the net cord. The net posts should be at least one foot outside the sidelines.

Why is it Called Pickleball?

One of the most common questions we get asked, especially from people that are just hearing about pickleball for the first time is: "Where did the name pickleball come from?"

We have heard two theories on the origins of the name:

  1.  The the mix of different sports (tennis, badminton and ping pong) reminded one of the creators of Pickleball of a "pickle boat" in crew that is made up of leftover oarsmen from other boats. **
  2. According to one of the game's creators , the game was named after the Pritchards’ dog "Pickles", who would chase the ball around and interrupt the game.
  3. **This apparently is the correct answer since they did not have the dog "Pickles" when they first started playing the game.**

Who Invented Pickleball?

​Congressman Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum  invented the game of pickleball in the summer of in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, WA. Legend has it the kids were bored so the dads invented the new sport by piecing together the equipment from three sports:  some old ping-pong paddles, a whiffle ball and a badminton net.

Who Plays Pickleball?

Currently the USAPA has almost 19,000 members (325% increase over the past 36 months).

For more general pickleball participation in the United States, the following information was extracted from the 2016 Pickleball Single Sport Participation Report of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).

Here are some interesting facts from the report:

  • 1.57 million were “Casual” participants who play 1-7 times a year
  • 930,000 were “Core” participants who play 8 or more times a year
  • The rate of growth in participation from 2014 to 2015 was 1.8%, from 2.462 million to 2.506 million (Note: this growth rate is likely underestimated since 2014 was the first year for including pickleball in the SFIA report and the base number is open to question)
  • Comparing Casual and Core participants:
    • Casual were 63% male and 37% female
    • Core were 73% male and 27% female
  • The age breakdown for Casual and Core are very different… with Core players being, on average, significantly older
    • ages 6-17: Casual 18.5%; Core 0.8%
    • ages 18-34: Casual 11.7%; Core 5.5%
    • ages 35-54: Casual 29.4%; Core 19.2%
    • ages 55-64: Casual 7.7%; Core 31.8%
    • age 65+: Casual 5.4%; Core 42.7%
  • 13% of Casual participants and 75% of Core participants are age 55 and older
  • The 2.5 million total participants represent 0.9% of the US population.
  • Where is Pickleball Played the Most?

    Regions of the US were Pickleball is played the most:

    • Pacific (CA, OR, WA) = 263,000
    • East North Central (WI, MI, IL, OH, IN) = 200,000
    • South Atlantic (FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, WV, DC) = 174,00

What is the Average Age of Pickleball Players?

Based on the Single Sport Participation Report of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) on Pickleball, 75% of Core Players are 55 and older (defined as players who play 8 or more times per year).


How Many People Play Pickleball in the US?

In 2016 there were 2.5 million participants in the US which represents 0.9% of the population. Approximately 1 out of every 111 people in the US play Pickleball...and the number is rising.

Where Can I Find a Local Court to Play pickle ball?

Since 2010, the number of places to play Pickleball has grown from under a 1,000 to over 5,000 (April 2017).  To find a local court click here to use the Places to Play directory and interactive map provided by the USAPA.   For players in the UK, you can check our our Interactive UK Pickleball Map here.

Pickleball Tournaments Near Me?

Here is a list of USAPA Upcoming and Recently Completed Tournaments​ and another list by pickleballtournaments.com.

Here is another list to look over upcoming Pickleball Events.​

When was Pickleball Invented?

Pickleball was created in the summer of 1965 and celebrated it's golden anniversary in 2015, marking 50 years since it became a sport. 

Where did pickleball originate?

The inventors of the game, the family of U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum who spent their summers on Bainbridge Island near Seattle.

Story has it, the kids were bored on day so the dads came up with a new sport using a whiffle ball, ping paddles and an old badminton court that was on the Prichard's property.  The game evolved from there and the adults soon got more hooked that the kids.

What is the Purpose of the Double Bounce Rule in pickleball?

The double-bounce rule states that each team must let the ball bounce on their first shot, so the serve must bounce on the other side of the net and the return of serve must also bounce before playing it.   The idea is to avoid quick smash returns of serve or approaching right after the server to extend the rallies in Pickleball. For more questions and answers on Pickleball Terminology click here.

Is Pickleball an Olympic Sport?

​No, Pickleball is not in the Olympics.

Baseball, softball, surfing, karate, sports climbing and skateboarding have been added for the 2020 Summer Olympics.  So it could be added eventually.  2024? ...2028?

Although the sport is growing both in the US and Internationally, it has a long way to go before being considered. According to the Olympic charter, an Olympic sport must be practiced by women in at least 40 countries across 3 continents and men in at least 75 countries on 4 continents to be under consideration.

Can you Play Pickle Ball on Grass?

Basically-NO.

Although we've seen some people play around in yards, you really need a solid outdoor surface (asphalt or concrete) or indoor hard court made of wood or other appropriate material (badminton, volleyball court).

What is a Let Serve in Pickleball?

Basic Rules of Pickleball. The serve must be hit underhand and each team must play the first shot off the bounce. After the ball has bounced once on each side, both teams can either volley the ball in the air or play it off the bounce. To volley a ball means to hit it in the air without letting the ball bounce.

How Do You Score a Point in Pickle ball?

In Pickleball, you only score points when your team serves. This is why you hear players (or referees in tournaments call "side-out", like in volleyball. 

Normally games are played to 11 (win by two). Some tournaments are played to 15 or 21. Points are played until one team commits a fault and points only go to the serving team.

The 3rd number in the score indicates if it is the serving team's 1st or 2nd chance to serve. Score at start of game is “0-0-Start” because the first team to serve a game only gets 1 chance to serve. When they lose the point, serve passes to other team.

What are the Rules of Pickle-Ball?

​For a summary  of the official Pickleball rules, click here.

Why is there Non-Volley Zone in Pickleball?

The No-Volley Zone (AKA "Kitchen" or NVZ) prevents players from smashing the ball midair at the net. Players can only volley behind the 7 foot area. The rule is designed to extend rallies.

What's the difference between a Pickleball Ball and a Wiffle Ball?

They are both made of hard plastic and the size is almost identical (just under 3 inches diameter). The pickleball ball is slightly heavier than a whiffle ball (average .88 oz vs .7 Oz).

Holes on a pickleball are round and evenly spaced around the ball whereas the wiffle ball has 8 oblong holes on one side of the ball.

How many holes does a Pickleball Ball have?

Offcial pickleball balls ​can have a minimum of 26 to a maximum of 40 circular holes. Most outdoor balls have 40 holes, indoor balls usually have 26 although there is no set number for indoor vs. outdoor balls. Som are made with a different number of holes, like the P7 that has 32.The hole spacing and ball design must be done so the ball flies  straight. A manufacturer’s name or logo must be on the outside of the ball.  Click here to learn more about the different pickleball balls on the market.

​What are the maximum dimensions of a pickleball paddle? 

​The combined width and length of a USAPA approved pickleball paddle (including and edge guard and butt cap) cannot exceed 24 inches (60.96 cm).  Pickleball equipment manufacturers can modify the width and length of the paddle face as long as they stay within the 24 maximum. The most common pickleball paddle dimensions measure approximately 8" wide by 15¾" long (20.3 cm by 40 cm) although there are other paddle shapes, such as the "elongated" or "blade" style paddles that have a longer and narrower shape. There is currently no restriction on paddle thickness.

Is Pickleball the Fastest Growing Sport in America?

According to many people "yes" but it's a complicated answer, see below for more complete answer.​

What is the Fastest Growing Sport in the United States?

It's tough to get a straight answer on this one.  In 2014 multiple articles were written stating that "Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America". 

It depends if you look at number of new members added year over year, percentage increase, etc.  Another factor is what actually counts as a "player". It is a casual player who plays a few times a year, a certail number of times a year, is member of association, etc. 

We really don't want to get deep into the discussion of what is definitively the fastest growing sport in the US. We've read that in 2016 Lacrosse was actually America's Fastest-Growing Sport among high school sports but also read that rugby wast the fastest growing team sport overall in the US that same year based on % increase of active players.

Regardless of the title of the "Fastest Growing Sport in the US", we can confidently say, based on the numbers, that Pickleball is a fast growing sport both in the US and internationally.

How many calories do you burn playing pickleball? 

A 160 pound adult can burn about 250 calories playing pickleball for 30 minutes of casual play (a 200 lb adult would burn about 350 calories). During more aggressive, competitive game the same players could burn 350 and 475 calories playing pickleball for 30 mins (160lb vs 200lb adult). This higher calorie range would be a more intense game with lots of stop and start action and very short rest time between serves. Calorie calculations are rough estimates and would greatly depend on the pace of play. 

How many steps do you take playing pickleball per hour?

We've tested with a FitBit and racked up about 7,000 steps playing pickleball for about 90 minutes.  Against more competitive opponents we got up over 10,000 steps in about the same amount of time.  With any digital pedometer, I think the number of pickleball steps is going to be a rough estimate: the start and stop action, lateral steps, split steps/hops won't always register as steps (or might be counted twice).  Regardless of the exact number of steps, we took thousands of steps, pickleball is definitely a good way to get moving and keep in shape! 

What distance do you move or miles run playing pickleball?

At the 2017 US Open Pickleball Championship, some volunteers wore a Fitbit.  Some of the Pro players registered steps that were the equivalent of over 13 miles- that's the same as a half marathon!!  This is an extreme example, these were professional pickleball players playing a full tourney day with several games back to back.  But it is a great testament to the sport and proves the naysayers wrong who say it's not a physically demanding sport! 

Pickleball Ball Size: 

Ball should weigh between .78 and .935 ounces (22-26.5 grams) and have diameter between 2.784 and 2.972 inches (73-75.5 cm).

What is the difference between pickleball and paddleball (platform tennis)?

With so many racket sports, people that have never played often confuse them.Although some people refer to it as “paddleball,” the sport is really called platform tennis. It is also called paddle tennis or just "paddle". The court measures 44’ x 20’ and is centered on a raised deck measuring 60’ x 30’ deck. The court is surrounded by a 12' high structure, 16-gauge "chicken wire" fencing. Players can play off the walls similar to squash and racquetball.

The paddles are made of composite material, the face of the paddle has aerodynamic holes drilled in the head. The ball is rubber.

Platform tennis vs pickleball:

Although both platform tennis and pickleball are played on a 44'x20' court there are very few similarities. Platform tennis uses tennis style scoring (Love, 15,30,45) and "deuce" when score is tied. Although both sports only allow one serve attempts (compared to two in tennis), the serve in paddle can be overhand whereas pickleball serves must be delivered underhand.

How long do pickleball paddles last?

A competitive player will replace their paddles (due to wear and tear) about once a year, although any of them switch even earlier if they get new paddles from their sponsors so they don't even use them one year.  Average recreational players should get about 2-3 years out of a graphite or composite paddles.  Wood paddles in theory could last 10 years but because these are often used at camps, schools and other high-volume venues, they tend to be more abused and suffer more wear and tear so after a few years can look pretty beat up.   No straight answer here...but most of our readers are frequent recreational players with graphite or composite paddles- they should average about 2 years use per paddle.​

Difference Between Tennis Court and Pickleball Court?

I've heard some people (that have never played) say that pickleball is a "small tennis court game". Although at first glance, a pickleball court does resemble a tennis court there are several important differences.  A more appropriate comparison would be badminton-sized court since the two sports share a court of the same dimensions. 

Tennis Court Dimensions vs. Pickleball Court Dimensions

Dimensions: 

Tennis Court:  Doubles court is 78 feet x 36 feet wide.  Singles match, the court’s width is 27 ft

Pickleball Court: 44 feet long by 20 feet wide. 

The next major difference is that the tennis court has a doubles alley (4.5 ft wide on either side whereas there is no doubles alley in Pickleball since doubles and singles play are played on the same court.   

The pickleball court has a No Volley Zone (NVZ) measuring 7 feet deep on either side of the net followed by the service boxes each measuring 10x15 feet.  One way to think of it is from the net to the baseline is flipped on a pickleball court, compared to a tennis court that has the service boxes flush to the net with the ​

pickleball court

Source: USAPA.org

dimensions of a tennis court

Source: tenniscompanion.org

Is it called a pickleball racket or pickleball paddle. 

Although many newcomers to the sport call it a racket, especially converts or crossover players of other racquet sports like tennis, the weapon of choice is called a pickleball paddle, not pickleball racket or racquet. 

Of course, most people will understand since it's pretty obvious what we are talking about but it's better to switch and call it a paddle to avoid confusion. Also if you are searching for info to improve your skills or looking to buy gear, you'll get many more results (and more accurate information) if you search on the correct term. 

Just as an example the google search term "where to buy pickleball paddles" ​has more than twice the search results as "where to buy pickleball rackets".

If your still interested in the topic we actually wrote a short article about the different names here.


If you have any other questions, please contact us so we can add them to the list.   If you are looking to learn the basic terms, please click here to see our list of pickleball terms.



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