The Tennis Player’s Guide to Pickleball

Tennis can be a fantastic game, but it’s not the only game in the world. If you’re looking to transition to a new sport that still offers many of the same trappings, you may wish to try out pickleball. What is pickleball, you may ask? It’s a sport that combines the basics of tennis, badminton, and table tennis into something new and exciting. Played on a smaller court and with different equipment that tennis, it nonetheless provides for an exciting way to test out one’s skills and reflexes. The transition between sports is not always easy, though, and thus many tennis players do need a brief guide to the differences between the two games.

A brief guide to pickleball

Though the name might sound funny, this growing sport is attracting tennis players from all over the world to give something new a try. While you may notice that the two games are superficially very similar, the truth is that the differences between them can be quite shocking to those tennis players who are not prepared. There are major differences in the construction of the court and the equipment in this game, as well as the strategies needed by tennis players to make a successful transition between the two sports.

The court and net

One of the biggest differences you’ll find in moving over from tennis is the size of the court. The average court is about one quarter the size of a full tennis court, accounting for the entire pad. This means you can fit about four courts on the site of a single tennis court, so the amount of space you’re expected to cover in a single game is significantly different. If you’re familiar with doubles badminton courts, you’re looking at something that’s about the same general size and shape with a few minor adjustments.

The court also features a seven foot no-volley zone that essentially kills play within three and a half feet of either side of the net. This zone, also called the kitchen, is a major part of the strategy in the game. Players standing in this zone are not allowed to volley the ball at all, even if they are only standing partially in the kitchen. This can be a radical change for those who are fond of playing close to the net in tennis, but it’s a major part of the game. Understanding the change in the court is a huge part of being able to successfully adapt from one game to the other.

The final feature to which you’ll have to get used is the lower net. In this game, the net is lowered to thirty-four inches at the center. While not as drastic a change as the much smaller court, it can still throw off individuals who are conditioned to serving over a tennis net.

 

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The equipment

The other big change to which you’ll have to get used is the change in equipment. For those who have never played before, it might be easiest to imagine this equipment as something akin to giant-sized table tennis paddles that are used to bat around something that’s rather like a wiffle ball. As you might imagine, this makes play on this type of court much different than on a tennis court.

The shorter, smaller paddles of this game are perhaps the hardest thing to get used to in the game. The lack of reach can often stymie long-time tennis players, causing them to lose far too many points that they otherwise should have picked up. The paddles also have a very different type of weight to them than you’d find in the more robustly-engineered tennis rackets, which will cause you to alter the way that you deal with the ball and your own swing.

 

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One of the hardest things to realize in the game is that the ball will absolutely not move in the same way it would in tennis. The perforated ball doesn’t bounce quite like it does in tennis, nor does it have the same kind of aerodynamic properties. You will often find yourself trying to anticipate where the ball goes only to have it bounce or fly through the air in a manner that’s not consistent with your experience. Once you play a few sets, though, you’ll get used to the ball’s movement.

Strategy and rules

In some ways, the main strategies of tennis are very similar to those in this game. After all, good players know that the best way to score a point isn’t always by having the best shot – it’s by making your opponent make a mistake. As such, having a good deal of patience and willingness to learn the game as it should be played will often help you to quickly adapt to it.

One of the major changes will always be that of positioning. Because of the smaller nature of the court, there’s simply not as much time for a player to react in this game. This will not only impact how you move while playing, but it will also impact how you position your paddle. Because you will rarely have time to follow up after powerful returns, you’ll need to consistently remember to have your paddle in front of you.

The inclusion of the kitchen also plays a huge role in the game. It’s much more difficult, for example, to step into a return knowing that it will leave you in a vulnerable state that could force a fault. You’ll have to be very conscious of every movement you make in order to succeed at this game. This kind of body awareness is actually very useful for those who come from a tennis background and want to continue playing that game – the transfer in skills can help you to really develop an economy of movement in tennis that is otherwise difficult to acquire.

Blackstone Country Club Members Have Access to Pickleball Courts

If you’re a fan of tennis, you’ll certainly grow to love this game. While it shares many similarities with tennis overall, it is different enough that it will allow you to tackle a number of new challenges. If you are looking to adapt your tennis skills to a court that favors economy of motion and positioning over sheer speed and power, this may be the game for you. If you want to give the game a try, it may be time to look for a country club that supports both the sport and its players. If you’re starting to ask, “where is pickleball near me?”, make sure to schedule a tour with Blackstone Country Club. By becoming a member you can not only try your hand at a new sport, but will have access to the Northwest Valley’s premier private country club featuring our award-winning golf course, a 30,000 square-foot clubhouse featuring a wide range of amenities including an extensive fitness center, resort-style pool with private cabanas, a children’s play area and casual and fine dining.