Pickleball has brought a new level of sports frenzy to people all over the U.S. Here in New Jersey, we are no different. Facilities have been opening in different parts of the state for pickleball enthusiasts. In fact, NJ has just welcomed the largest pickleball club in all of the Northeastern region. (But more on that below.) The good thing about the sport is that you don’t have to wait around for the warm weather to show up. It can be played year-round among a small group of friends or family. All you need is to bring your competitive spirit to the court and most importantly, let loose and have fun. Here, we’ll tell you where exactly you can play pickleball in NJ.
What is Pickleball?
The sport of pickleball dates all the way back to 1965. It was founded in Washington state by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum. The story behind the sport’s origin was that both Bell’s and Pritchard’s families were spending time together without having anything to do. To cure the boredom, the two men used an old badminton court that was in Pritchard’s backyard and borrowed useless equipment lying around–a paddle and plastic ball—to start playing. Later on, McCallum was introduced to the new game that the other men were playing. From there, they came up with a set of rules and the rest is history.
When it comes to pickleball, you should mostly think of it as a combination of regular tennis, badminton and table tennis. You can enjoy the sport in either indoor or outdoor facilities that feature a badminton-size court and a slightly modified tennis net. The pickleball area also has a special “no volley” zone located right in the middle of the court. The equipment you need in order to play will be a paddle and a special plastic ball with holes all over. As for the number of players, there needs to be a group of two players or four people.
How to Play Pickleball
To begin, players on either side can start depending on who has the plastic ball. Then, that player takes the ball and uses an underhand serve to hit it over the next in a diagonal direction. Points are only awarded to the side that serves. The game continues on with the ball being hit back and forth between the playing sides. It can only come to an end if one side commits a “fault.” This means either the ball was sent out of the bounds or it landed in the “no volley” zone of the court.
There are also a specific number of points that a team needs to meet in order to be declared the winner. One must be the first team to earn 11 points, as well as lead by two points. Only then can they call out “victory.” It is also recommended to wear comfortable, athletic-like clothing since pickleball does require lots of movement.
Where Can I Play Pickleball in NJ?
To meet the sport’s rising popularity, NJ has recently opened up a number of pickleball facilities that residents of different regions can take advantage of. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor locations to play pickleball. Another thing to keep in mind prior to going to these facilities is that each has its own regulations and admission prices.
Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club – Ewing, NJ
As one of NJ’s highlighted pickleball locations, Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club is the largest pickleball club currently in the Northeast area. It was founded by two couples, Becky and Frank Gabriele and Sharon and Bob Voelzke, who hail from Pennsylvania. This club has a total of nine indoor pickleball courts, a players’ lounge and a special room reserved for events. Experienced and non-experienced players are all invited to join.
There are three different types of club memberships you can register for; annual individual memberships, annual family memberships and three-month individual memberships. However, membership is not required at the club. Non-members are allowed to participate in all of the club’s activities but are not allowed to book courts in advance. Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club also hosts several kinds of events throughout the year. Some events are divided by pickleball experience level. More information can be found on their website.
Courtside Racquet Club – Lebanon, NJ
This sports club based in Lebanon welcomes people of all kinds of experience levels. They offer “Pickleball Clinics” that feature 14 weeks of pickleball sessions. Different class times are available from Monday to Thursday. For the 2022 season, classes will begin on March 21 and go all the way through June 30. They also have a “Social Pickle” event that features from 16 players to 32 players. Members pay $8 for admission while non-members pay $10. More information can be found on their main page.
Township Tennis & Pickleball Courts – Livingston, NJ
Livingston welcomes their residents and other non-locals to join in the pickleball craze. If you wish to play in this NJ town, the Livingston Township Tennis & Pickleball Courts require registration beforehand. You can register either online or in-person at the Senior, Youth & Leisure Services (SYLS) office. The office is open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For Livingston residents, you will pay a $10 annual fee. As for non-residents, the fee will be $150.
Before you make your way to the courts, Livingston’s website emphasizes the requirement of having an ID to be able to play on all of the court locations. Pickleball players can go to the SYLS office to take a photo and receive an ID badge with their current address.
The Summit Area YMCA – Summit, NJ
This YMCA area offers instructional pickleball sessions which are entirely instructed by a USA Pickleball Ambassador. The instructional clinicals are directed towards beginners and are offered on Mondays and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. You can register for these classes on their website. There is also an “open play” session for advanced beginners that takes place on Mondays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. These pickleball amenities are free for YMCA members and for non-members, there’s a $20 day pass.
CenterCourt Sports Academy of Marlboro – Morganville, NJ
Pickleball enthusiasts are welcome to take advantage of the 50,000-square-foot building that has amenities including a locker room and café. Just recently, the center added two new pickleball courts to their indoor facility. Each of the indoor courts is climate-controlled. They hold a selection of pickleball programs, clinics, lessons, tournaments, social events, parties and open play. For the spring 2022 season, you can contact the facility directly to learn more about the pickleball classes offered.
Are you planning to play pickleball at any of these NJ locations? Let us know in the comments!
Main image by Ben Hershey