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A pickleball craze is sweeping the nation—here's what you need to play

You'll be mastering your third-shot drop in no time

Pickleball rackets and balls on court next to net Credit: Bill Oxford / Getty Images

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Over the past year, pickleball—a combination of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton—has seen explosive growth. It was invented in Washington in the mid-'60s, but it's now the fastest growing sport in America, according to The Economist.

It makes sense: The COVID-19 pandemic left many people all searching for socially distant outdoor activities, and pickleball certainly fits the bill. But if you’re new to the sport and your beginner brain can’t tell a pickleball paddle and a tennis racket apart, you might be wondering what you need to get started. Here’s all the pickleball equipment the internet is raving about, from paddles and balls to nets and apparel.

1. A basic wood paddle set

Basic pickleball set with wooden rackets  on white background
Credit: Amazin' Aces

This set comes with all the basics.

If you’re wanting to break into playing pickleball, you’re going to need the most basic pickleball equipment. The Amazin’ Aces set is an affordable way to get yourself and your family in the game. Rated as some of the best pickleball paddles for beginners, this set features four basic paddles, four pickleballs, and a mesh bag for toting the whole mess around. It’s great for pickleball beginners, with Amazon users noting that it’s an especially good set for kids who might just want to goof around with their friends.

Get the Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Wood 4-Paddle Set from Amazon for $39.99

2. This portable net to play anywhere

Two people on pickleball court playing a set
Credit: ZENY

You won't need a nearby court with this net.

If you’re just venturing into pickleball, you can always try to find a court near you. If you’re just trying to tackle the game in the driveway, though, you’re going to want to pick up a net. Walmart shoppers love the ZENY portable pickleball net system, giving it a 4.7 star rating overall. Reviews mention that it’s lightweight and portable, “super easy to set up,” and “super durable.” It’s also less expensive than other nets, so you won’t feel like you’re breaking the bank for a fad you’re just starting to dabble in.

Get the ZENY Portable Pickleball Net System from Walmart for $60.99

3. A set of balls that the professionals use

Neon pickleballs laying on court next to racket.
Credit: Franklin

So good, even the professionals use 'em.

Stating the obvious here, but we think that if you’re going to pick up pickleball, you’re going to need some of the right balls to play with. Sure, you’ll probably get a few in your beginner set, but in case those go missing, break, or fly over a fence, you’ll want to have backups. Franklin’s X-40s are the official ball of USA Pickleball, and were even used by the pros at the US Open Pickleball Championships (yes, that’s a thing). They’ve drawn a 4.8 star rating on Walmart, with reviewers hailing their durability, bright neon coloring, and “fast” play.

Get the Franklin Sports X-40 Outdoor Pickle balls, 3 Pack from Walmart for $7.86

4. A court marker kit so you won’t need a referee

Yellow court markers
Credit: Franklin

These markers will help you stay out of the kitchen!

If you’re opting to make your own court, you might want to pick up a set of court markers, which could help settle any “it was in!” squabbles among friends and family. Bright, easy to use, and transportable, this kit is especially good for indoor pickleball spaces like gyms or rec rooms, with one Amazon user calling it the perfect set of “great, well-crafted non-slip rubber markers.”

Get the Franklin Sports Pickleball Court Marker Kit from Amazon for $16.06

5. A breathable workout dress that's easy to move in

Three women wearing workout dresses in orange, cream, and green.
Credit: Outdoor Voices

This sporty dress can be worn for all types of racket games.

The perfect combination of a cute dress and supportive athleticwear, Outdoor Voices Court dress seems like something you might see Serena Williams sporting, were she to pick up pickleball. Available in sizes XS to XL and lined with pockets perfect for holding everything from a phone to a backup ball, this dress will provide a little bit of support up top while also giving the fun flip action of a tennis skort on the bottom. For those looking for adorable pickleball attire, this is a great place to start.

Get the Court Dress from Outdoor Voices for $108

6. A bag to carry all your gear

Red bag with Wilson white text on front on white background
Credit: Wilson

This Wilson bag will hold all your pickleball essentials.

If the beginner kit’s mesh tote isn’t doing it for you, you can always pick up a backpack specifically designed for pickleball. The Wilson Super Tour Paddlepak can hold three paddles, a few balls, and even has a specialty shoe compartment. One happy customer describes it as “a dream for a pickleball enthusiast.”

Get the Wilson Super Tour Paddlepak from Wilson for $89

7. A sweat-wicking hat to keep you cool

grey mesh workout hat on white background
Credit: Under Armour

The sun's glare is no match for this sports cap from Under Armour.

Things can get bright out there on the pickleball court, so you’re going to want a good, breathable cap to keep out the rays. This unisex Chill Run Dash Cap from Under Armour is one size fits all and is made from a woven fabric for maximum comfort. It also features mesh panels and backing for strategic ventilation and what the brand calls an “Iso-Chill” sweatband to wick away sweat.

Get the Under Armour Unisex UA Iso-Chill Run Dash Cap from Under Armour for $32

8. This “I Have A Dinking Problem” shirt

Black shirt that reads "i have a dinking problem" in white text
Credit: 92shirts / Etsy

Who doesn't love a little day dinking?

Part of the fun of pickleball is just the act of goofing around when playing it with friends. There are hundreds if not thousands of jokey pickleball items on sites like Etsy, a lot of them based on the “dink” sound a pickleball makes when it hits a racket. This “I Have A Dinking Problem” shirt is the perfect statement piece for a pickleball beginner or a veteran, and will be quite the conversation piece. Etsy users also love it, saying it’s “a big hit at pickleball” and that it “makes people smile.”

Get the “I Have A Dinking Problem” T-shirt from Etsy for $12.99

9. A headband to keep flyaways out of your face

White man with brown hair wearing black headband
Credit: Temple Tape

Stay focused on the game, without your hair in the way.

If you’re playing pickleball right, you’re probably going to work up a sweat. Keep it out of your eyes with the set of breathable sports headbands that Amazon shoppers just love. Boasting almost 6000 reviews and a 4.4 star rating, Temple Tape’s headband set is a hit amongst shoppers, who claim it's the perfect product for keeping sweat out of your eyes during heated workouts. Plus, a good headband can always make you look like a pro, so even if you’re new to the pickleball court, grab a headband and you’ll naturally channel your inner Roger Federer.

Get the Temple Tape Sports Headbands, Set of 2, from Amazon for $13.95

10. A specialty pair of pickleball shoes

A pair of blue pickleball sneakers on white background
Credit: Wilson

Your pickleball game will be on fire with these specialized shoes.

You’ve heard of tennis shoes, but did you know that brands are making shoes specifically for pickleball now? It’s true, and players who have tried them seem to rave about them. Wilson’s Rush Pro 2.5 is a unisex shoe that offers wearers “increased rubber density on the outsole to maximize durability for pickleball,” according to the brand, and which shoppers say “felt great on the court, with the appropriate amount of ‘snugness’ and good support.”

Get the Wilson Rush Pro 2.5 Pickleball Shoe from Wilson for $99

11. A glove to prevent blisters

Hand in white glove holding pickleball racket
Credit: Franklin

Don't let sweaty palms weaken your game.

If too much pickleball has your hands feeling a little stiff and painful, try one of these Franklin Sports fingerless gloves, which are specifically designed with pickleball in mind. Made using the same process the company uses for its baseball batting gloves, these gloves offer an adjustable wrist strap to guarantee a secure fit and a padded thumb and index finger to help thwart grip fatigue. Amazon reviewers say the glove is especially good for hot games, when sweaty palms can become an issue.

Get the Franklin Sports Pickleball Glove from Amazon for $19.99

12. A high-end pickleball paddle to up your game

Pickleball racket with three yellow pickleballs on white background
Credit: Onyx

For when you're ready to upgrade to a more advanced paddle.

When you’re finally ready to take your pickleball game to the next level, you’re going to want to pick up a nicer paddle. The ONIX Graphite Z5 Carbon Fiber paddle has a comfort grip and a handle that mimics the shape of a tennis racket for those more familiar with the feel of those rackets. It comes “highly recommended” by Dick's Sporting Good's shoppers for its large sweet spot, wide body, and lightweight design. It even comes in five different colors, so you can really go wild and match it to your outfit.

Get the Onix Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle from Dick’s Sporting Goods for $89.99

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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