Pickleball Tips for First-time Players

What is Pickleball?

If you are looking to take up a new, exciting, and easy to learn sport, Pickleball might be for you. Pickleball is a sport that is quickly growing in popularity in the United States and different parts of the world. It was created in 1965 by individuals looking to provide a recreational outlet to cure their families’ summertime boredom. Their main objective was to provide a game in which all individuals may participate and enjoy together as a family. Pickleball is an attractive sport to try because it has a lot of action which provides a fun and great group social interaction. Most everyone can play this sport: children, teens, adults, elderly adults, novices, and experts.

mixed doubles players on pickle ball courtPickleball is a fun sport for all to enjoy

Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of various racquet sports like Tennis, Badminton, and Table Tennis (Ping Pong). Inventors of this sport likened this mixture of different sports to form one sport to the concept of bringing together leftover non-starter, non-varsity athletes during college crew rowing competitions and having them compete just for fun in what were called Pickle Boat Races. Thus, the name “Pickleball” was chosen for the name of their new sport.

Pickleball is played on a 20 ft wide x 44 ft long court that is the size of a Badminton court for doubles play and looks like a miniature tennis court. A net separates two 20 ft wide x 22 ft long sides of the court. Net height varies from the sideline to the center. The net stands at 36 inches high at each sideline and stands at 34 inches high at the center of the net and court. 7 feet away from each side of the net is an area called, “the kitchen” which is an area where no volleying is allowed. Between the end of the “kitchen” and baseline of each court, halves are a Right and Left service area that are divided by a centerline.

Pickleball equipment is very similar to Table Tennis equipment. Players use large paddles with extended handles that look like oversized ping pong paddles. The players use the paddles to hit a plastic ball with multiple holes. The ball used in pickleball looks like a small whiffle ball.

JOI and JOI Rehab Treat Pickle Ball InjuriesPickleball Paddle and Ball

Pickleball can be an individual or team sport. It is played with one player on each side of the net (singles play) or with a 2 player team on each side of the net (doubles). Doubles play is the most chosen form of Pickleball. The same court and boundaries are used for both singles and doubles Pickleball.

Is Pickleball Easier than Tennis?

Is pickleball easier than tennis? For the most part, the quick answer to this question is Yes!

Several factors make Pickleball easier than Tennis:

  • Smaller court dimensions- there is less ground to cover, especially in double matches. There can be less running and movement to chase the ball during play.
  • Higher potential extended bouts of action- There is a “Two Bounce Rule” which ensures more game action by making it possible for participants to play for more than one or two rallies. After a team serves to initiate action, the receiving team is required to let the ball bounce (1st bounce) before returning the ball back to the serving team’s court. Once the ball is returned to the serving team, another bounce (2nd bounce) is required before the serving team can hit it back. After the required 2 bounces take place, both teams can strike the ball with no more than one bounce or without a bounce at all.
  • Smashes at the net are not allowed- so it is easier to extend rallies. The previously mentioned no volley zone on the court, aka “the kitchen” is an area where volleying at the net is prohibited.
  • The Pickleball serve is more returnable- the use of an underhand technique with ball contact no higher than waist level is an acceptable serve.
  • Decreased physical exertion overall- the game is won with mental strategy and ball control more than speed, strength, and power.

What are Tips for Beginner Pickleball Players?

  • Choose opponents that are appropriate to your skill level- be challenged but not overwhelmed when learning the game.
  • Assume an athletic ready position/stance- when waiting for an opponent’s serve or return stroke. Stand with feet apart, knees bent, trunk slightly bent at the waist, paddle held near chest level and facing the opponent hitting the ball. Be ready to move.
  • Focus on strategically, well-placed shots and limit excessive power- decrease chances for error.
  • Establish position behind and near the non-volley line- achieve this as soon as possible. High percentage shots for scoring are possible here.
  • Practice how to hit the ball- practice serves, forehand and backhand groundstrokes, volleys, and lobs.
  • Communicate with your doubles partner- talk and help each other make plays.

How to Avoid Getting Hurt in Pickleball

Safety considerations:

  • Ensure a safe playing environment: make sure that the pickleball court is in good condition free of physical defects/hazards and is dry.
  • Use proper athletic footwear/protective eyewear- court shoes that are specifically designed for sports that involve side to side movement, start/stop movements, pivoting, and cutting. Protective eyewear can guard against direct blows to the eye by a fast-moving ball.
  • The majority of Pickleball Courts are concrete.  Unlike clay courts of tennis which are easier on your body, standing on concrete courts for a game can take its toll.  You may need an orthotic in your shoe to provide more support. 
  • Be prepared for emergencies- regarding Pickleball sports injury or medical-related issues. A cell phone, access to emergency contact numbers, a first aid kit, and even a portable AED device are helpful.
  • Consult your physician and get approval/medical clearance before starting Pickleball- especially if one has a medical history or current injury that may impact sports participation.

Watch this video to learn about Pickleball Injuries and How to Prevent Them.

Injury Prevention for Pickleball


  • Warm-up- to increase core body temperature and to warm up body’s bone, tendon, joints, and cardiovascular system in preparation for sports activity. Ten to fifteen minutes of brisk walking, cycling, or jumping rope can be performed.
  • Stretching- after a proper warm-up, stretching to the whole body is advised since Pickleball requires the use of upper and lower body muscles: neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, trunk, leg, ankle, and foot musculature.

During Activity

  • Avoid dehydration and heat illness- hydrate regularly by drinking water or electrolyte replenishing sports drinks (hydration may be done before, during, and after a match). Also, wear comfortable, moisture-wicking sports apparel.
  • Know your limitations- play within the limits of your abilities that are affected by your age, fitness level, athleticism, and experience level.
  • Discontinue activity, if an injury is sustained and/or if there is an onset of pain- playing through injury/pain, will usually make matters worse. Seek medical attention as needed.

Post Activity

Once the Pickleball match is over, a 10 to 15-minute cool-down period is advised to gradually reduce your heart rate and body temperature to normal levels. This can be achieved with gentle stretching and slow walking around the court. At this time, ice packs may also be used to address any post-play bone, joint, or muscle discomfort.

Read this article to learn more about Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball is a rapidly growing hybrid racquet sport in the U.S. that is easy to learn, inexpensive to play, and fun to enjoy with family and friends. This article also highlighted reasons why it is an easier sport than one of its predecessors, Tennis. Tips for beginner Pickleball players were also recommended. And information on Pickleball injury prevention was reviewed. Hopefully, this article has piqued interest in giving this new sport a try. Official Pickleball rules and more information regarding this sport are available from the USA Pickleball Association on the web at usapickleball.org.

Related Articles: Muscle Strain, Pickleball and Tennis Elbow

Pickleball Injury Treatment Near Me

If you have a pickleball injury that needs medical treatment, see an orthopedist or a sports medicine doctor at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute.  JOI offers the area's largest group of orthopedic and sports physicians to meet your needs and get you back in the game after an injury.  JOI also has 12 rehabilitation locations that specialize in treating sports injuries. To schedule with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

We are looking to grow our JOI Rehab Team, find out HERE about our current job openings.

If you have a pickleball injury or any other injury, call (904) JOI-2000,schedule online or click the link below.

By: Ron Salazar, MPT, ATC

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