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Want to Try A New Sport? Give Pickleball a Whirl

Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. The game was started in the summer of 1965 in the state of Washington by Joel Pritchard and a group of his friends. They attempted to set-up for badminton but were unable to find the shuttlecock. Instead of using a shuttlecock, they used a whiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and improvised the paddles, making them out of plywood.

The pickleball court is very similar to a doubles badminton court. The pickleball court is 20 feet by 44 feet for both singles and doubles competition. The net is hung at 36 inches on the end and 34 inches in the middle. The markings on the court are similar to a tennis court, with no alleys; but the outer courts (not the inner courts) are divided in half by service lines. The inner courts are non-volley zones and extend 7 feet from the net on either side.

Play and Scoring The ball is served with an underhand stroke and is directed diagonally to the opponent’s service zone. Points can only be scored by the serving side and occur when the opponent faults. Faults are classified as failure to return the ball, hitting the ball out of bounds, or stepping into the non-volley zone. The return of service must be allowed to bounce by the server (the server and partner in doubles) and cannot be volleyed. Consequently, the server or his partner usually will stay either on or near the baseline until the first return has been returned and bounced once. The first side scoring 11 points and winning by at least 2 points is the winner. In tournaments, games may be played to either 15 or 21 points with the players rotating sides at 8 or 11 points respectively.

Injuries and Prevention Pickleball is an excellent way of increasing your cardiovascular fitness level. With any physical activity, comes the risk of injuries, especially sprains, strains, and the more serious fractures. Injuries to the knee, ankle, and Achilles are the result of either pivoting or lateral movements on the court and injuries to the shoulder can be caused by the overhead swinging movement of the racquet. If you are hurt playing pickleball, utilize RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and, Elevation) for the first 48 to 72 hours. If improvement is not noticed within that time span or if you have decreased range of motion or increased swelling, consult a sports medicine specialist for a definitive diagnosis and course of action. The best form of injury prevention is for the athlete to start a general warm-up and stretching program prior to participating. Increasing the blood flow and stretching out shoulders, neck, back, hips, knees, and ankles is the best method to prevent injuries!

The one thing that any athlete should do prior to starting up this or any other physical activity or event is to consult a physician to ensure that they are medically cleared to participate.

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