The first question you need to answer—how many people are you playing with, and how many courts are available?
That’s pretty much how we make the decision of which variation of the game to play.
2 or 4 players, 1 court
Classic Pickleball – As described in our Pickleball Game Review post, the classic game of pickleball is either 1 v 1 or 2 v 2 on a pickleball court. As a quick summary: each team trades off serving the wiffle ball diagonally across the court. Don’t step in the kitchen, unless the ball is going to drop into the kitchen. Each team gets at least 2 chances to score a point (hence the 3rd number of the scoring… 0-0-1, vs. 0-0-2. The third number will always be 1 or 2, referring to the server, and the first two numbers are your typical score keeping numbers). Have fun and play to 11, 15, or 21 (we’ve played with all different groups who play to one of those numbers).
Dinking Competition – A dink is when you hit the ball back and forth and close proximity, usually in the kitchen. You could hit the ball back and forth, trying to keep it just in the kitchen area, and see how many hits you and a friend can get back and forth without it touching the ground. This can be done with 2 or 4 players. The quicker the hits, the more exciting it gets!
4 + players, 1 court
Pickeball 4-Square – This can be exactly like the rules of 4-square, just with Pickleball paddles on a pickleball court! If the ball goes out after last touching your square, rotate through the line. Choose a king position at the start, and work your way through dethroning the king!
6 players, 1 court
6 Player Pickleball – Not sure if there is a more creative name for that… we will call it Pickle Speed for fun. In this version, you will play with 3 teams of 2. 2 of the teams will rally. When one team loses the point, the losing team has to run off and the team that was off will run on and receive the serve from the winning team. In this version, you can only score points on the serve (same as classic pickleball). The twist – the winning team doesn’t have to wait for the team running on to get set. If they have the ball, serve quick and catch the team off guard! It’s a great quick game with teams running on and off, back and forth. This version definitely is more of a cardio workout, but is totally worth it, especially if the courts are packed and you’ve only been able to secure 1 court for a larger group.
6+ players, 1 court
Around the world – Have you ever played Around the World in ping pong? Well there you go, it’s a similar thing! We recommend having at LEAST 6 players, but probably a minimum of 8 would be better for this. One person starts the serve, and will rotate around the court, the next person will receive and so on and so forth. If the wiffle ball goes out when you are supposed to be guarding the territory, you are out of the game! This goes on until a 1 v 1 showdown occurs, with the ultimate winner claiming victory!
Pickleball “Team Rodeo” – This is an interesting variation for large groups with few paddles. You only need 2 paddles – one for each side. Say that you had 12 people. 6 line up against the fence on one side, 6 against the fence on another. One player will run up to the line, hit the ball, run back and pass off the paddle, they will run up and hit, and so on and so forth down your line of people. This is a bit of a “team game.” Good communication for quick pass offs will be essential. First team to 11, 15, or 21 (you choose) wins!