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What Is Pickleball? What Every RVer Should Know

What Is Pickleball? What Every RVer Should Know

Despite being around since the 1960s, pickleball has been gaining popularity over the last couple of decades. You’re seeing pickleball courts popping up in city parks, campgrounds, and RV resorts. It’s a game that young and old can play together and have a great time. If you enjoy staying active and plan to RV, pickleball might be an excellent activity for you to enjoy at your next campground!

What the Heck Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a popular racket sport that, like tennis, can be played as either singles or doubles (although doubles are most common). The rules are relatively easy to understand, and after a few games, you’ll have everything down pat.

You play the game with special pickleball paddles and plastic balls with perforated holes, often referred to as “wiffle balls.” They are much lighter than a tennis ball and experience less drag as they move through the air. The paddles are larger than table tennis balls, but smaller than tennis rackets.

A pickleball game is a mixture between badminton and tennis. There are specifically designed courts that look like miniature tennis courts that measure 20′ by 44′.

There’s a very short learning curve to get into the sport, making it an excellent game for families to enjoy together. Once you understand pickleball rules, you can start growing your skills.

How to Play Pickleball

What Does Pickleball Have to Do with RVing? 

Pickleball is an intergenerational activity that just about anybody can enjoy playing. Pickleball popularity grew quickly in retirement communities where older folks were looking for a way to stay active without putting too much stress on their bodies.

Snowbirds, often RVers, grabbed hold of the sport of pickleball. It began to gain popularity as RVers traveled around the country and introduced more and more people to the sport. Some created makeshift courts to introduce the sport to new audiences and eventually raised funds to create actual courts.

Campgrounds looking to attract these avid players to their parks have installed pickleball courts to create an interactive community culture for visitors. You’ll often find these at RV resorts or parks that cater to seasonal campers. Sometimes there will even be leagues and tournaments throughout the season.

There are estimates that around 100,000 people enjoyed playing pickleball in 2010. However, currently, over 8 million players are enjoying the sport!

Pickleball is also a very portable game. You can purchase a net that allows you to set up your own pickleball court when visiting a campground. As RVers take the sport to different campgrounds, more and more people are jumping aboard the bandwagon.

Pickleball racket and ball on court
Stay entertained while on the go with a vigorous game of pickleball.

Is Pickleball Easier to Play Than Tennis?

A pickleball court is a quarter of the size of a tennis court, which means less stress on joints and muscles. Physically speaking, pickleball is easier for the simple fact that it’s not all about power and running back and forth.

By learning how to control where the ball goes and how much effort needs to be applied to get it there, you can get very good at the game without overexertion. Practicing good communication with your partner also makes your movements more efficient over the smaller court size than in tennis.

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be in shape. You need the stamina to help ensure your accuracy and placement when hitting the ball. You’re not looking to overpower your opponent as much. You’re trying to place the ball in the most ideal location on their side of the court.

Pro Tip: No court to play pickleball at? You can still have lots of fun by playing backyard games. Check out these 7 Great Reasons to Try Backyard Camping and make your own fun at home!

Man playing pickleball at campground
Stay active while RVing by regularly playing pickleball.

How Do You Explain Pickleball?

Despite its name, pickleball doesn’t have anything to do with pickles. As mentioned, the pickleball gameplay is similar to tennis and badminton. The general concept of the game is to return the ball over the net to your opponents without fault. Game rules dictate how you can and cannot hit the ball to avoid these faults.

To begin, the server serves underhand diagonally across the net. After each point, the server and their partner rotate. The server can’t bounce the ball when serving, and the ball must bounce on the other side of the net before your opponents hit it.

If the ball hits out of bounds, into the net, or double bounces, it is a fault. If the receiving team was faulted, then the serving team scores. However, only the team serving can get the point.  The first team to score 11 points wins, and must have a two-point lead.

What Are the 5 Basic Rules of Pickleball?

There are a handful of basic rules that you must know to get started. First, the ball must stay within the white boundary lines. Anything outside of the lines is considered a fault. When you fault, the opposing team gets the ball. If they were serving, they’d get the point.

There is a proper way to serve, and failure to follow it will be a fault. You must serve the ball underhand and from below your waist. The serve must travel over the net diagonally into the opposite service court. If you fault on a serve, you lose your serve, or it goes to your teammate.

You need to follow the two-bounce rule, too. After the serve, the ball must bounce once on the opposing side before returning, then bounce once on the serving side of the net before returning before being hit in the air. This is one of the hardest rules to remember, as it can be tempting to hit the ball in the air before it bounces on each side of the net.

There is a 7-foot section at the front of each side of the net that is the no-volley zone, also known as the “kitchen”. You cannot bounce the serve in the no-volley zone, or it is a fault. Once the ball has bounced on each side, you can hit the ball and let it bounce in the no-volley zone.

Lastly, when it comes to scoring, you play games to 11, 15, or 21 points. You must also win by at least 2 points. Keep in mind that you can only score points when your team is serving. So this can make the game very interesting and result in many back-and-forth matches.

Two pickleball balls on court
The rules of pickleball are easy to pick up and enjoy.

What Else Can You Not Do in Pickleball? 

There are a few other things that you cannot do when playing pickleball. Hitting the ball twice will result in a fault for you and your team. Similarly, hitting the ball into the net, out of bounds, or failing to return the ball over the net is also a fault.

One easy rule to forget is that you must stay out of the no-volley zone unless the ball first bounces in the no-volley zone. If the ball bounces in the no-volley zone, you may enter it to return the ball, but must leave it immediately. 

Man playing pickleball at campground pickleball court
Whether you play competitively or for fun with friends and family, a game of pickleball is sure to be an enjoyable experience.

Do All Campgrounds Have Pickleball Courts?

No, not every campground has a pickleball court. However, they’re becoming increasingly more popular. As the sport continues to get embraced by more of the RV community, we anticipate we’ll see more pickleball courts sprouting up in campgrounds all across the country.

Pro Tip: Finding a campground that has everything you want is difficult! Use these tips on How to Find Campgrounds with WiFi to stay connected on your next adventure.

13 Fun and Easy CAMP Games and HIKING Games by Family F.E.D.

Why Is Pickleball Addictive? 

Pickleball is definitely an addictive sport. This is largely because it’s new to the scene, but also because it’s insanely fun. Young and old can enjoy the sport, share a laugh, and get a workout.

It’s also a great way to get to know your fellow campers and make a new friendship or two. Pickleball players are usually eager to share their sport with others, so don’t be shy! Stop by the courts to watch a game, and we bet you’ll be invited to rotate in and learn the ropes in no time!

Have you played pickleball in a campground yet? Tell us your go-to campground game in the comments!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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