Pickleball: What’s the deal with Canada’s growing sport? 

By: Anson Wong 

Published on: March 13 2023

Photo: Ben Hershey (Unsplash)  

If you’re arriving in Canada, you might be surprised to learn one of the fastest growing sports here isn’t hockey or basketball, but pickleball. According to Pickleball Canada, 28 000 members have joined the organization as of December 2021. 

But the competitive scene is not the only place where popularity is growing. Several communities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) like Richmond Hill have put up nets to allow parkgoers to enjoy pickleball. These nets are available a couple of hours a day and are in response to the sport’s growing popularity. With fall on its way, this time of year is the perfect chance to try out the game for yourself. 

Rules of the game 

To play, you will need a wide open plain, a net, paddles for each player, and a pickleball. These items can be found in most sports stores such as SportsChek. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, Walmart sells equipment at a lower cost. Consider bringing sports apparel for easier movement and breathability. 

The rules of pickleball are simple, players are laid out similarly to a badminton court. Each game can be played individually in a singles match or with a partner in a doubles match. All players must be at least two metres away from the net; this is called the non-volley zone or “the kitchen.” Making contact in this area will result in the opposing team getting a point.  

When serving, the server on the right side of the court hits the ball diagonally. The starting serve must always be done with an underhand motion. Should they win, the server on the left will hit the ball next diagonally. The ball must always bounce at least twice for it to count. This means volleying the ball is not allowed. 

To win one team must have at least 11 points and be two points ahead of the opposing team. The game will continue indefinitely until this two-point gap is achieved. The team that achieves first wins a set. In total, two sets are required to win the game. 

Why the popularity? 

Pickleball’s popularity has been present even before the pandemic. Its appeal lies largely in how the rules are simple and easy to follow. This makes it ideal for almost all age groups, from children to seniors. More importantly, the strain on the body is less compared to other sports, meaning you don’t necessarily have to be in shape to play well. All players regardless of skill level can enjoy the sport, making pickleball easy to get into overall.  

Courts are also generous in the amount of space needed, requiring no more than 13 metres in length by six meters in width. In comparison, a tennis court would take 23 metres in length and 10 metres in width for a doubles game. Pickleball’s compact space allows for many more games to be played at once.  

With many parks and recreational areas being able to serve as courts to play, pickleball has become a popular sport where players can get to socialize. If you’re looking to play, consider registering at your nearest city. Richmond Hill for example, has time slots available for drop-in. If you’re looking to be competitive or want a regular team to play with, you can join organizations like Pickleball Canada.  

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