Odessa, TX (The B) – Pickleball, a mixture of badminton, tennis, and ping pong rolled into one, is a sport that’s gaining popularity and has made its way to the area. The Odessa Country Club held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to unveil they now have two Pickleball courts of their own.
While Pickleball may be something new to our area, but the sport has been around and was actually invented over 50 years ago. During the summer of 1965, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell were trying to find an activity that their families could enjoy together. They had an extensive stockpile of sports equipment hanging around. They ended up giving ping pong paddles, a badminton net, and a couple of wiffle-balls a test run.
After a few trial-and-error rounds, the families began to make adjustment suggestions. First, the badminton net was lowered to resemble that of tennis. Next, they needed to create rules and a point system. As the game evolved, so too did the equipment. Arlen Paranto was the original designer and builder of composite Pickleball paddles. Being a Boeing Industrial Engineer, he had the knowledge and materials necessary to create the lightweight paddle. This paddle has a polymer honeycomb core with either a fiberglass or graphite surface and replaced the old wooden table-tennis paddles.
Up until the last 10 years of the sport, the principal ball for indoor play was the Cosom ball. There have been numerous developments in the manufacturing of and regulations regarding the indoor balls. They look like wiffle balls, but are slightly heavier. Outdoor balls have approximately 40 smaller holes and are heavier than indoor balls. This is to help compensate for the wind.
Next came a place to play. The surfaces used to play vary greatly. After the creating families returned home from their vacation, they needed a designated place to play their new game. Typical asphalt neighborhood streets were approximately 20 feet wide. This was perfect for their courts. Eventually, others decided to build tennis-styled cement courts in their backyards. During the winter months, players were forced to move indoors. Gymnasium hardwood floor areas got converted from volleyball to indoor Pickleball courts. With more and more tennis players converting to Pickleball, many tennis complexes are repurposing several of their courts to provide Pickleballers a place to play.
The competitive paddle sport courts are 44 feet by 20 feet. The length of the court is divided into four sections. The centerline of the court where the net is placed is located 22 feet from either baseline. Seven feet away on either side of the net are two more lines called the non-volley lines. The remaining 15 feet of court remaining on both sides are the service courts. There is a centerline lengthwise down the court, ten feet from either side.
Pickleball is usually played to eleven points, win by two. Matches are played best two games out of three. Or if competitors are playing one game, it is played to fifteen points, win by two. Games can be played as singles or doubles, with doubles being the most popular. An important rule is the double bounce rule, which the ball must bounce once on each side before either team may start volleying the ball in the air.
Every rally begins with a serve. Only the serving team can score a point by winning a rally. The player in the right service court will always serve first for a team. If the serving team scores a point, the two players switch places so the first server now serves from the left service court. The serving team will continue switching places until they lose a rally. When the serving team loses a rally, the second server will now serve from his current position. Once the serving team loses another rally, the opposing team now has two chances to serve.
Again, Pickleball is fairly new to the Permian Basin and people are still just now learning about the paddle sport. A few informative websites to get you up to speed: Pickleball Max, USA Pickleball Assn, and Play Pickleball.
The above orientation video has a run-time of 2:17 and is a good introduction to the sport of Pickleball.