The paddle is what really puts the pickle in pickleball. It kind of looks like a cross between a tennis racket and ping pong paddle, and is made of different materials like wood, aluminum or graphite. Lighter-weight paddles give you better ball control and maneuverability on the court, while heavier paddles give you more power. The material also matters. Wooden paddles tend to be a little cheaper, heavier and less durable than graphite or aluminum.
A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court, measuring 20x44 feet. It’s laid out similar to a tennis court, with a sideline, centerline and baseline. The net height is 36 inches, with a 7-foot Non-Volley Zone on either side of the net called “The Kitchen.” But if you can’t find a court near you, we say make one. Because pickleballers are gonna pickleball. It’s what we do.
We know what you’re thinking. Yes, it looks just like a Wiffle ball. But it’s not. The pickleball is smaller and there are different balls for indoor and outdoor use. So make sure you’re playing with the right ball.
The indoor pickleball has larger holes that help slow them down. They’re also softer, easier to control and bouncier than the outdoor variety.
Outdoor pickleballs have smaller holes to help reduce the wind’s effects and are made of harder plastic for durability on the hard outdoor surfaces. They’re also heavier and travel faster than indoor balls, but are harder to control.
Those are the absolute essentials, but here are a few things you should definitely look into if you’re wanting to get the most out of your game.
You don’t need to dress like you’re in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon to play pickleball. Just your normal, everyday, non-restrictive workout gear will do. So, don’t stress. Whatever you already wear to the gym or to run should be just fine.
There’s a time and a place for work boots, high heels, and those shoes with the built-in roller skates, but a pickleball match is not one of them. Some comfy tennis shoes with good grip and solid support should do the trick. And make sure they fit, since you'll be stopping and starting a lot and you don’t want to twist an ankle or deal with blisters.
You have to carry your essentials around in something, right? A nice, durable gym bag sure beats a trash bag or bindle. Think of it as your pickle jar, so to speak.