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The swiftly growing sport of pickleball is capturing the hearts of individuals spanning all age groups by melding the best aspects of tennis, badminton, and table tennis into an exhilarating game that offers a unique and accessible experience for everyone. This article explores the origins, rules, and widespread popularity of pickleball.

Pickleball is a paddle sport involving a perforated plastic ball, played in singles or doubles over a 34-inch-high net. Originating in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, it has distinct rules, court dimensions, and paddles compared to tennis and table tennis. The court measures 44 feet long by 20 feet wide, with a larger paddle than in table tennis, and the ball has less bounce. A 7-foot non-volley zone exists on each side of the net, and side-out scoring applies, where only the server can earn points. The game's dynamics come from minimal bounce, non-volley zones, and underhanded serves.

Initially limited to the Pacific Northwest, pickleball grew in popularity, becoming the fastest-growing US sport in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Its success is attributed to its easy learning curve, inclusivity for various ages and fitness levels, and affordable startup costs. Thousands of pickleball tournaments, including the US National Championships and US Open, now take place across the US, supported by two professional tours and a league. The sport's popularity extends globally with numerous international competitions.

The game's etymology is debated; it was either named after a dog named Pickles or derived from a crew term "pickle boat." The founders include Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell. Pickleball's invention was a response to a lack of equipment for badminton, and it evolved from experimenting with various balls and rackets. Pickleball, Inc., formed in 1968, manufactured paddles and kits to meet demand. The first formal tournament occurred in 1976, and the US Amateur Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established in 1984, publishing the first rulebook and hosting the National Doubles Championships. The sport's growth led to its official recognition as Washington state's official sport in 2022.

Pickleball's popularity surged further due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with numbers of players and events steadily increasing. Several investors, including NBA player LeBron James, supported professional pickleball, leading to the formation of the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) and Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) tours in 2019, followed by the Major League Pickleball (MLP) in 2021. Notably, MLP attracted investments from NBA and NFL players. Professional leagues have increased exposure, contributing to pickleball's global recognition.
The sport's world records include the longest rally of 16,046 consecutive shots in 6 hours and 11 minutes. While pickleball isn't an Olympic sport, organizations like the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) and the World Pickleball Federation (WPF) are actively working towards its inclusion in future Olympics. Both federations have numerous member nations and organize events such as the Bainbridge Cup and the World Pickleball Games.

KEYWORDS: Pickleball sport, Pickleball game, Pickleball rules, Pickleball origins, Pickleball equipment, Pickleball court, Pickleball groups, Pickleball skills, Pickleball benefits, Pickleball tournaments

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