Exmouth & District

Pickleball world

and pickleball life within our u3a

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash


Pickleball is probably the fastest-growing sport in the UK as of 2024. It’s been growing rapidly in the USA for over 20 years and is now set to gain the same level of popularity over here. Seen as a cross between tennis, table-tennis and badminton, it can be played by people of all ages. Like those games though, it needs a certain level of fitness and agility to play it well.

Played on a court the same size as a badminton doubles court, it’s usually played as doubles. Players use a ‘paddle’ and a hollow plastic ball across a net of a similar height to tennis. Like tennis, it involves serving, ground-strokes and volleys in games scored in a confusing number of different ways. More on that in the section on rules and regulations.

Because the ball is lighter than a tennis ball, it’s even more subject to the vagaries of wind when played outside. That’s why the majority of UK pickleball takes place in sports centres and halls.

Basic rules and regulations

Although the dimensions of a pickleball are identical to a badminton doubles court, the two service lines are six inches further away from the net. The ball is plastic, hollow and has a number of holes. It’s flight is something between a tennis ball and a shuttlecock and the bounce is lower than in tennis.

The two service lines also have a name – the ‘non-volley zone’ (NVZ) lines. Players are not allowed to volley when any part of their foot is in the area between this line and the net. This area is sometimes called ‘the kitchen’. Another example of the weird terms used within this game.

Like tennis, the serve has to bounce in the opposite service box. Unlike tennis, the return ALSO has to bounce anywhere on the other side of the net before it can be played. No serve and volley tactics here! The rally continues until the ball hits the net, goes out or there is a fault.

Scoring has two forms. The original method is similar to the old badminton style where both members of a team serve until each loses a point on their serves and the serve then passes to their opponent. Players can only score points on their own serve.

The second form of scoring, known as rally scoring, is simpler and similar to badminton today. The major difference though is that players stay on the same side of the court and the serve alternates between the two players until they lose it.

A full set of the rules can be found here: Full Rules of Pickleball

Pickleball within our u3a

There are currently 5 Pickleball groups with beginners sessions arranged when there’s enough demand. Although each group operates independently, most are organised and managed by the ‘Picklefather’, Bob Nicholls.

Because of the ongoing demand for playing Pickleball, most of the groups are usually full. That applies especially to the most advanced/experienced group, group 1. This has had a waiting list almost since the day it was formed. Entry is now only possible when an existing member drops out – and the player is of a good-enough standard.

As yet, there are no internal competitions or ladders. With the number of regular u3a sessions limited by the availability of courts at the two sports venues in Exmouth, it’s difficult to see how Pickleball can either grow or improve within our u3a.

Latest news

  • 2024/5 local Pickleball festivals
    We have 7 pickleball friendly festivals to look forward to this year. Last year we had 5 and now we have Honiton Pickleball and Torquay Tennis Club. THE FESTIVAL MONTHS (and date if known) OTTERY PICKLEBALL CLUB       = SUNDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER       OTTERY LED EXMOUTH U3A        … Read more: 2024/5 local Pickleball festivals
  • BBQ Friday August 2nd
    We are having a pickleball session and BBQ on Friday August 2nd. at Exmouth Tennis Club on the Maer. Open to all members of the existing u3a pickleball groups and their partners, it will start with some nice friendly games from 4pm and run through till about 8pm. The BBQ will be ready to use… Read more: BBQ Friday August 2nd

Various simpler summaries can be found via a Google search.

Useful links

The Pickler – plenty of tips and a bi-weekly newsletter with even more

Paul’s top tips – a level 2 couch from Runnymede

The perfect match scoring format? – as used by The Bourne Club

Advanced Pickleball – the blog with tips from a coaching group