Article Written By Zyle Cantago
How do you pronounce “Pickleball?”
Pickle ball? Pi-ckle ball? Pickleball. The first time I heard the name pickleball, it always struck me as odd. Usually, when you hear the name of a sport or a ball game, you can already probably imagine how it’s played or how it works. Take, for example, volleyball, football, soccer, table tennis, fencing, and basketball – okay I guess basketball and fencing are a bit hard to imagine only by their name, but I’m guessing that you can kind of see what I mean. Like in volleyball, you can probably imagine a ball being volleyed, right? And football, it is also possible for you to imagine doing something to a ball with your feet (probably kicking). The point is, you can usually tell a lot by a sport about its name.
However, not pickleball. I mean, what do you do with a pickle and a ball, right? For me, I figured that maybe it was one of those unusual games that people made up due to some kind of influence from pop fiction – like Wiffle ball from the Harry Potter series. I didn’t pay much attention to the game, until one day, for our Phys Ed subject in college, our instructor told us that we were going to play the wonderful game of pickleball.
Why play Pickleball?
“Why pickleball, Sir?”, one of my classmates asked. “Well, for starters – most of you probably already have experience in playing most of the common sports available to the public. If we chose from one of them, then some of you might have a sort of unfair advantage over your classmates due to your experiences and training regarding the game. So, to have a fair playing field among you, we’re going to choose a game that you haven’t played – and that’s pickleball!”, our instructor replied. And he was right, none of us had any idea what pickleball even is!
Then, for our theoretical session, he told us all about pickleball and the different things that surround it – particularly its history and how it was made up. Pickleball, like any sport before it – was a product of humanity’s ingenuity. Created using a Ping-Pong paddle, a lowered badminton net, and a spare whiffle ball in their family’s badminton court, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell decided to make up a sport that would help alleviate their family’s boredom. And so, they created pickleball. Essentially, a sport that’s made up/inspired by 4 sports.
Some quick FAQ’s about me
How long have you been playing?
I’ve played only very recently, with not much experience under my belt with tournament matches, but only drills and some very enjoyable friendly matches with my colleagues. I wouldn’t say that I’m a total noob since I’ve had experience with badminton and tennis so it was easier for me to adjust to the game than most of my classmates.
What level are you?
Honestly, I did not imagine that I’d be able to enjoy pickleball as much as I’m enjoying it right now. I thought that it was just going to be another complicated game that’s hard to understand, train, and play – but boy, am I glad to realize I was wrong.
I really liked the fact that this game, didn’t hurt at all! (at least not much or by my standards, not at all). It uses a soft Wiffle ball, but at the same time gives the excitement that tennis and badminton allows its players to display with their skills and athleticism. In playing tennis, I was really really scared of getting hit, but not with pickleball. I was able to use a lot of the shots, and similar shots I learned with tennis and badminton and the power that I used when hitting the targets for both sports in playing pickleball. One of my colleagues hit the ball with a “smash” shot, and I thought that it would hurt to get hit by it – but it didn’t, and that’s one of the amazing things about pickleball. It’s accessible to everyone.
What’s my favorite shot – and why?
I mentioned using the shots and/or similar shots I learned from previous sports I’ve played, and my favorite ones to use are the backhand punch and the block shot. I loved doing backhands and drop shots in badminton, so the backhand punch and block shots really suited me, but I had a hard time adjusting the force I had to hit the ball since it was a hollow ball that was a bit hard to adjust to.
If it wasn’t called the Kitchen, what would you call it?
Now, the weird part about this game was the “kitchen”. An area in the court where you’re not supposed to be in when hitting volley shots unless the ball bounces in it which then, allows you to play in it. It’s sort of a weird concept to get used to, but it gets easier the longer you play it. One of my classmates asked me, “Why would they call it a kitchen? Shouldn’t they just say no-volley zone?”. Well, yes – but I think Kitchen is cooler, it’s like you’re playing inside the house and you can’t play in the kitchen lest your parent might scold you, but sometimes you just can’t avoid it during certain circumstances. Plus, “pickle” in a “kitchen, seems fitting, doesn’t it? Haha!
What was the best game you’ve ever had?
Honestly, it wasn’t a game I had. Rather, it was a match among our instructors that taught us the game. Man oh man, the athleticism that they displayed whilst playing a match was amazing. From hitting balls casually and just making it go over to the other side and volleying it back, we started hitting smashes, dinks, blocks, and backspin return serve – my goodness, the possibilities were endless! They just showed us a sort of, “competitive” way to play pickleball, and we were excited and hyped to reach the levels that our instructors were playing at. Our way to play was not fun at all, it felt repetitive and boring, but now we saw that pickleball was really exciting too!
Where do you think you can improve?
I think I can and should improve my stamina, eye-hand coordination, and agility. The ball travels fast across the court and it sort of just shocks you how athletic you’d have to be to play this at a professional level. It was a fun and easy sport to pick up, but as you dedicate time and the drive to learn more – the learning curve gets a little more challenging and fun to go through! I’m just glad that the training for the beginner levels wasn’t really taxing on the body since that would’ve probably knocked the interest out of us and made us give up on the game!
What do you prefer, singles or doubles? Why?
Well, that really depends! Honestly, it depends on the day I play! Haha! I’ll tell you what though, the scoring system was one of the hardest things to learn for me! It’s a bit complicated, especially when playing doubles. However, since I like to play together with people, I mostly like playing doubles. It’s a fun way to develop camaraderie with your peers especially if you both are fun-loving people!
Why do you think this game is called pickleball?
At first, I didn’t know! It was very puzzling for sure and one of the stories I heard, was that it was because of the family dog of the people who made the sport, named “Pickle”. But, as we learned the history of the sport, we found out that that was just a marketing scheme made to further increase the popularity of the sport as it was just starting out. Well, it did increase in popularity and now it’s recognized as a full-fledged sport as it also has its own globally regulating organization of the sport!
This article was written to show a small story – a portion per se, of my adventures and my own experience with pickleball. As someone who lives in the Philippines, wherein playing pickleball is practically unheard of, being introduced to this sport by our instructors was a real blessing. It allows us to be more exposed to the cultures of the world, at the same time helping us enjoy a sport that’s not only fun to play, but keeps you healthy as well in the process! This was a real treat to write, and I hope that what you’ve read and found out through this article helps you see, how fun pickleball is and that you should try it today! It’s not an expensive sport for that matter as well!
So, in short – pick up a paddle, grab a whiffle ball, and start playing with your friends today!
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