The rackets are small, the name is nonsensical, and the balls are plastic. So how on earth has pickleball become one of the hottest pastimes in the country?
That is not for us to question. The trend is clear: This holiday shopping season will feature pickleball sets flying off the shelves faster and in greater volume than ever before. Experienced players and curious newbies alike will be hoping to find pickleball equipment among their holiday haul.
So what makes pickleball so popular? Many things — the plastic ball and badminton-sized court make it a perfect fit for gyms and health clubs, for starters. Instantly that makes it a four-season game, which — don’t laugh — was the entire inspiration for the invention of basketball in the late 19th century. It does not require much in the way of equipment, and unlike tennis, the nets are portable and easily stashed. The rules — see below — are relatively simple.
And it’s a way better workout than it looks on first glance. Throw in the social aspect and — bingo — hot new trending game.
Although, for a hot “new” trending game, pickleball has a long if obscure history. The game was invented nearly 60 years ago, and depending on which story you read, got its strange name either from the “pickle boat” tradition in crew or from the rambunctious dog of the game’s inventor, who was fond of stealing the ball during play.
Another great pickleball perk? It’s inexpensive, unlike many other games. (Yes, we’re looking at you, golf.) You can easily avail yourself of all the necessary equipment at a very reasonable cost. And with that in mind, here are some of the best pickleball sets for jumping on the pickleball bandwagon.
Franklin Sports Pickleball Paddle and Ball Set
BEST BEGINNER BUNDLE
The basics are here: two wooden paddles, two regulation balls, one super-low price — currently 57% off retail at Amazon. This set also comes from Franklin, a longtime trusted sporting-goods brand, so the quality is vouched for. Curious to try the hot new game? Start here with the best picklleball sets for beginners.
Adjustable Pickleball, Badminton & Volleyball Net
This pickleball set comes with everything you need to play pickleball and badminton. The height of the net can even be adjusted to accommodate volleyball games at the beach or local basketball court. Finally, this set also comes with bonus pickleball paddles, so if you’re looking for an all-in-one pickleball gift set, then this is a great option.
Helium Versus Pickleball Set of 4
BEST DOUBLES SET
Like tennis, pickleball’s doubles play is faster and often more fun than one-on-one. Call up your favorite couple to hang with and have them meet you at the gym or rec center, or bring this set in case you make new friends while on the court. Four quality paddles, two outdoor balls, two indoor balls, and a drawstring carrying bag is all you need if you’re joining an indoor league or just taking lessons.
Panel Sound USAPA Approved Lightweight Pickleball Paddles Set of 2
BEST INTERMEDIATE SET
So you like the game and you’re feeling a little more competitive? Time to bump up into these lightweight USAPA (USA Pickleball) approved fiberglass paddles. You’ll swing easier and get less fatigued with these as compared to the entry-level wood paddles. This set also assumes you’ll be breaking a hard sweat, so it comes with two absorbent towels along with four balls and the shoulder-sling carrying case.
Panel Sound USAPA Approved Pickleball Paddle Lightweight Pickleball Paddles Set of 2
$89.99 56% Off
FILA Accessories Pickleball Net Set
BEST BUDGET SET WITH NET
The gym or rec center comes with nets. Your house? Not so much. But if you have a nice level driveway and you want to play pickleball, step right up and grab this complete set from FILA. The all-weather net can be assembled and operational in five minutes or less, and the whole thing — net, four paddles, and four balls — breaks down small enough to fit into the small included carrying bag, and the entire thing weighs only 8.5 pounds.
Versix Strike 4F Complete Pickleball Set
BEST SET WITH NET
Here’s the top of the line all-inclusive pickleball bundle for the more competitive set. Four lightweight comfort-wrapped fiberglass paddles, a regulation 10-foot net, four USAPA-approved balls, a carrying bag, and a set of complete rules and instructions for play. This is the set for you if you take your fun seriously.
Franklin Sports Outdoor Pickleballs (12-Pack)
GOTTA HAVE BALLS
Yes, there’s a difference between outdoor balls like this set from Franklin and indoor balls. The outdoor variety are heavier and have more holes in order to stand up to wind. They can also sting a little if you get whacked with one, unlike the softer and lighter indoor balls. Regardless, you’re going to want a supply of balls on hand for when an impromptu match breaks out.