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March 18, 2024

Serve Up Student Success with Pickleball!

If “staying out of the kitchen,” “dinking,” and “zero-zero-start,” sound familiar, you know we are talking…pickleball! 

As they say, “invention is the mother of necessity,” and two families vacationing on Bainbridge Island, Washington found themselves surrounded by bored kids. Using badminton paddles, a perforated plastic ball, and a lowered tennis net, they crafted the perfect recipe for a sport that would capture hearts and energize players of all ages. “The rest,” they say, “is history.” 

Whether you’ve played or not, this fun, engaging, and easy-to-learn sport is a wonderful way to get students engaged and learning.

Image courtesy of the course writer’s trip to Bainbridge Island, August, 2023.

Learn the Pickleball Lingo!

Understanding the unique vocabulary of pickleball adds an extra layer of excitement to the game. Introducing these terms in the classroom not only teaches sports jargon but also fosters a sense of belonging among students. If you’re not already a pickleball pro, here are some key terms to get you started:

Dinking: A delicate and controlled shot, usually executed close to the net, aimed at keeping the ball low and forcing opponents into a challenging position.

Zero-Zero-Start: The traditional way to begin a pickleball match. The serving team starts with a score of zero, and the serving team’s score is called first, followed by the receiving team’s score. The serving team only serves one time for the first serve of the match in an attempt to mitigate the advantage of being the first to serve. After the first serve and play, each side serves twice for the remainder of the match. 

The Kitchen: No, we’re not talking about cooking! The “kitchen” refers to the non-volley zone, a seven-foot space on either side of the net. Players are not allowed to step into the kitchen unless the ball bounces inside it, then they can step in to hit the ball, but then must immediately step out.

Two-Bounce Rule: The ball must bounce once on each side of the net before players are allowed to hit the ball volley-style (without letting it bounce).

A Sport for Everyone

Pickleball is a game of inclusivity! Simple and adaptable, pickleball works for students with different abilities. With its smaller court and quirky rules, students quickly get the hang of it. The inclusivity of pickleball encourages fun and boosts confidence of those who may be reluctant to participate in other sports. 

The sport welcomes players with disabilities, using modified equipment and court dimensions to ensure everyone can enjoy the game. With the right adaptations, the pickleball court is a space where all students can thrive and build essential motor skills.

Screen-Free Fun and Connection

Pickleball is so much more than hitting a ball over the net! The game builds connections, teaches students sports-personship, and provides a welcome escape from digital devices. In a time where we are saturated with screens, pickleball is a breath of fresh air.

Students will also learn the value of teamwork, communication, and friendly competition. Friendships forged on the court often extend beyond the game, creating a supportive community that enriches the overall school experience.

From its fascinating history to its physical and social benefits, this sport brings a myriad of educational opportunities to the table—or should we say, the court! In course 5533: Serving Up Student Success with Pickleball, you’ll discover how to teach students the rules, etiquette, and code of conduct on the court, as well as pickleball basics like the equipment needed, pickleball’s unique vocabulary, and of course, how to play the game!

This active, low cost, and easy-to-learn sport is sweeping our nation for a reason. So, grab a paddle, step onto the court, and let the learning, laughter, and love for pickleball begin!

About the Author

Susanne Leslie is a Professional Learning Specialist at Teaching Channel. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and a Master’s in Education. As a parent educator, Susanne’s specialty is Culture and Early Childhood instruction. In her current role, she writes courses and content, focusing on our Hybrid Blended Learning courses

Fun Fact: Susanne has jumped out of two (perfectly good) airplanes!


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