What is pickleball?

Pickleball combines three sports no one really likes—tennis, ping pong, and badminton (yes, badminton is still a thing)—to form a fourth racquet sport that was meant for the elderly and young children, but people in their 20s and 30s are totally ruining it.

It’s also (and you’re going to think I’m kidding here) played with a wiffle ball. They call it a pickleball, but once you see it, you’ll know. That’s a goddamn wiffle ball.

Like tennis, pickleball is played as individuals or teams, based on one’s goals:

  • Individuals: For people who want to get out of the house
  • Teams: For people who want to be outside, but not move

Is pickleball fun?

Do you think getting sunburned fun? Is screaming at your partner for a weak serve while the two of you hold fiberglass paddles, fun for you? Then yes, pickleball is very, very fun.

And you should already know this, because someone in your life has been telling you pickleball is fun for the last six months.

Can you get hurt playing pickleball?

Yes. The most common injuries to look out for in pickleball are sprained ankles, pickleball elbow, and rotator cuff tears, which may require surgery. If you tear your rotator cuff playing pickleball, you should probably just give up.

Why is it called pickleball?

The guy who made it had a dog named Pickle or something. Or maybe Pickle was his last name. I forget.

Slang names for pickleball include lazy tennis, geriatric badminton, and “a weak excuse to drink Gatorade.”

Isn’t pickleball for old people?

While it was designed as a game for the whole family to play, pickleball spent its first four decades of existence in purgatory, mainly as part of the YMCA Silver Sneakers curriculum. It was also frequently played in Active Older Adult (55+) communities. Then one day, it spread through retirement homes like gonorrhea and out into the world. Eventually, players of all ages began playing, as was its original intention.

How is pickleball different from tennis?

It’s much, much, much more annoying to anyone who lives near public tennis courts. The dull, metronomic sound of a wiffleball smacking fiberglass rattles one’s bones, and has already forced many Americans into early retirement. Sadly, most of those people moved to Florida—where they were immediately surrounded by old people who also can’t get enough of this fucking sport.

Why not just play ping pong?

I mean, yeah. Fair question. Totally valid that you’re asking this. Ping pong is by far the best of the three racquet sports. It requires far less movement, seamlessly integrates alcohol consumption, and can be played in air conditioning. If you’re keeping score, ping pong is up 3-0.

The main drawback to ping pong, of course, is that one can also get really into ping pong over a long weekend at their cousin’s cabin, impulse buy a table off Amazon, and not have any space in their basement until 2031, when they sell that dusty table at a yard sale for $20.

On the other hand, public tennis courts are free. Your hard-earned tax dollars at work!

Is pickleball a fad?

Maybe so, but it’s getting Americans to like exercise, so god bless it. It’s already lasted a hell of a lot longer than Pokémon GO did, I’ll give it that.

Do Europeans call pickleball something different, like we call football “soccer”?

Yes. As pickleball is still in its infancy, a corrupt governing body like FIFA has not yet been established to choose a uniform name for the sport or launder money.

Here are some names other countries use for pickleball:

  • Australian rules pickleball
  • France: cornichon balle (played on clay courts)
  • German:  Essiggurkeball!
  • Spanish: Pickle pelota
  • Norwegian: sylteagurk ball*

Is pickleball an Olympic sport yet?

God, I hope not.

* Norway has already integrated sylteagurk ball into their country-wide school curriculum. With a student-teacher ratio of 12:1, students ages 5 through 17 play sylteagurk ball for one hour each day while listening to Mozart over the court speakers in an effort to promote a healthy, functioning brain. Norway also recently released the first-of-its-kind sylteagurk ball rehabilitation program for prisoners—of which the country has eleven total—where they learn pickleball and other life skills to prepare them for their eventual release.