You Don’t Need a Racket Sport Background to Play Pickleball, Here’s Why


It’s often assumed that having a background in racket sports like tennis, racquetball, badminton, or ping pong gives players a significant advantage in pickleball. While many pickleball enthusiasts do transition from these sports, it’s a misconception that you need such a background to excel in pickleball. In fact, starting without prior racket sport experience can be beneficial in many ways. Let’s explore why.

The Myth of the Racket Sport Advantage

Diverse Athletic Backgrounds in Pickleball

Many top pickleball players come from a variety of athletic backgrounds, not just racket sports. Take Scott Golden, for example. Before becoming a pickleball professional, Scott played baseball, football, and even participated in BMX racing. Despite not having a racket sport background, he has reached the 5.0 level in pickleball, demonstrating that diverse athletic experiences can also lead to success in this sport.

The Blank Slate Advantage

When it comes to teaching pickleball to newcomers, Scott Golden emphasizes the advantage of starting with a “blank slate.” Players without a racket sport background don’t carry over any ingrained habits or techniques that might not translate well to pickleball. For instance, tennis players often struggle with excessive topspin or slice, which can cause the ball to land in the net. These players may take months to adjust their techniques to suit pickleball. In contrast, beginners without prior racket sport experience can learn the correct techniques from the start, potentially progressing faster.

Learning Pickleball: A Fresh Perspective

Adaptability and Openness

Players new to pickleball without a racket sport background often exhibit greater adaptability and openness to learning. They approach the game without preconceived notions, making them more receptive to coaching and new strategies. This openness can accelerate their learning curve and help them develop effective pickleball skills more quickly.

Focus on Fundamentals

Without prior racket sport habits to unlearn, beginners can focus on mastering the fundamentals of pickleball. Key skills such as proper grip, footwork, and shot selection can be taught and ingrained from the outset, leading to a solid foundation for future improvement.

Success Stories: Non-Racket Sport Athletes

Scott Golden’s Journey

Scott Golden’s journey to becoming a pickleball professional is a testament to the fact that you don’t need a racket sport background to succeed. His diverse athletic experience provided him with the physical fitness, hand-eye coordination, and competitive mindset necessary to excel in pickleball. By starting with a blank slate, he was able to learn and master the unique techniques of the sport without the need to unlearn any conflicting habits.

Other Notable Examples

Many other successful pickleball players have similar stories. They come from various athletic backgrounds, including soccer, basketball, and even non-sporting disciplines. Their success underscores the idea that pickleball is an inclusive sport, accessible to anyone willing to put in the effort and dedication to learn.


The notion that a racket sport background is essential for success in pickleball is a myth. In reality, players without such a background can have distinct advantages, including a blank slate for learning and a focus on mastering fundamentals. The stories of players like Scott Golden highlight that diverse athletic experiences can also lead to success in pickleball. So, whether you’re a seasoned athlete from another sport or completely new to the world of sports, pickleball welcomes you with open arms. Embrace the journey, and you might just find yourself excelling in this exciting and rapidly growing sport.


1. Do I need prior experience in racket sports to play pickleball?

No, you do not need prior experience in racket sports to play pickleball. Many successful players come from diverse athletic backgrounds and have achieved high levels of success in the sport.

2. What are the advantages of starting pickleball without a racket sport background?

Starting without a racket sport background allows you to learn the correct techniques from the beginning, without the need to unlearn any conflicting habits. This can lead to faster progression and a solid foundation in pickleball.

3. Can athletes from other sports excel in pickleball?

Yes, athletes from various sports, including baseball, football, soccer, and basketball, have successfully transitioned to pickleball. Their diverse athletic experiences provide valuable skills that can be applied to pickleball.

4. How can I improve my pickleball skills without a racket sport background?

Focus on mastering the fundamentals, such as proper grip, footwork, and shot selection. Be open to coaching and new strategies, and practice consistently to develop your skills.

5. Are there professional pickleball players without a racket sport background?

Yes, there are professional pickleball players who come from non-racket sport backgrounds. Their success demonstrates that dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn are key factors in excelling in pickleball.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Overcoming the Yips: Strategies for Pickleball Players

Navigating the Non-Volley Zone: Unlocking the Secrets of ‘The Kitchen’ in Pickleball