While everyone is talking about pickleball as a phenomenon that is gripping the USA and globally, there’s another similar sport based on pickleball which is about to make waves. It’s called Beckyball and in this piece we look at the ins and outs of Beckyball and dig deeper into how is it different from pickleball.
Beckyball is almost identical to pickleball. The main and subtle difference is that it is played on existing tennis courts and there is neither any need to build new courts nor superimpose lines on existing surfaces.
Come out and play on the courts that are already there and go unused for many hours a day. And yep, it can be played on both, hard surface tennis courts and soft or clay tennis courts.
What Are the Main Advantages of Beckyball?
Using existing courts save the construction cost of new courts and, in many cases, demolition of perfectly good tennis courts.
On top of the savings mentioned above, it allows people with joint and knee concerns to play on a soft court. This is a massive contribution to people looking for a surface other than a hard court, and there are so many of us.
Playing Beckyball requires two adjustments to the court, both very simple. The first is to draw a “kitchen” line.
The line can be temporary or permanent. More about the “kitchen” line later. The other is the net height.
Either leave the net height as is (36 inches) or lower it to 34 inches by sliding the net’s center strap to the right or the left. This is not a big deal in any case.
What are the Beckyball Lines?
Beckyball is played in the service areas of the tennis court. This creates a wider court, not by much, and a bit shorter court.
The more expansive court is less restricting for doubles play. (The vast majority of pickleball games are doubles).
You can see a comparison between a pickleball field and a Beckyball field in the diagram above.
Normal Pickleball Equipment. However, for play on soft/clay courts, people use high bouncing Pickleball balls, especially developed rubber balls and low-pressurized tennis training/practice balls. All are readily available online.
Players can choose between the established Pickleball scoring rules or a simpler scoring system which is more a Beckyball thing.
This simplified scoring can be explained below:
- There are different types of scoring systems which can be used; pickleball scoring, tennis scoring or the very simple Beckyball scoring
- The Beckyball scoring has one player doing all the serving in each game
- Team which is first to reach five points wins the game
- The first team to win five games wins the set
- Unlike in tennis, there is no going back and forth with advantages and deuces!
- The service must land ahead of the kitchen. The return must do the same.
- There are lets in this sport, and that occurs when the serving ball hits the net but lands beyond the kitchen line
- Ball hitting a line is always in.
The kitchen line is the same as the one used in pickleball and can be either painted as a permanent line or a removable tape can be used. The other options include using chalk or laying a special rubber line or line sections.
Clay courts allow an extra option and that’s to draw a line in the clay with the line sweeper.
In the picture above, we see the kitchen line just in front of the player, a depressurized tennis ball and a HarTru soft court.
How It Started – History of Beckyball
Beckyball was invented by Longboat Key resident, Yoram Ariely. This is what he has to say:
“One day, at 11.30 am, midseason in Florida, I played on a beautiful Har-Tru court and realized that only one court out of 10 was occupied. And this is while people are scrambling to find playtime on Pickleball courts.”
“This, plus the thought about all the people I know who quit playing tennis because it became too difficult or too demanding on the joints clicked together to create Beckyball. And, it goes without saying Rebecca is my wonderful wife.”
The State of Beckyball
According to Ariely, Beckyball did not catch on as fast as he thought it would despite the apparent advantages. But, the places that adopted the game are die-hards, which gives him the strength to continue promoting the game.
The main reasons for the slow adoption according to Ariely are:
- Pickleball is a huge success, both as a sport and a social phenomenon. People do not want to break the mold.
- Club owners and coaches are reluctant to give Beckyball a chance due to the extra work involved. But once they are willing to experiment they will probably find out how much their members benefit from it.
“Especially the ability to play on soft courts will be an attraction to old and new members. My experience is that once you give it a serious try it catches on.”
“There is not much money to be spent. There are no new courts, no new equipment; it is all out there already.”
Final Words on Beckyball
Beckyball can be described as a sport that combines a lot of elements of pickleball and a few from tennis to make it a lot easier for those playing it. It needs just one extra line to be drawn on tennis courts, one which is seven feet from the net for the kitchen.
The shorter but wider area than pickleball gives it an interesting twist.
It remains to be seen, however, how quickly will it catch on and become a mainstream sport.