What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle sport played using a perforated, plastic ball over a tennis-type net on a badminton-sized court. The game can be played in a singles or doubles format. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn!

The Basics

To begin play, the ball is served diagonally crosscourt in an underhand motion without bouncing the ball in the server's court.

Points are scored by the serving side only and occur when the opponent faults (fails to return the ball, hits ball out of bounds, etc.). The server continues to serve, alternating service courts, until the serving side faults. The first side scoring 11 points and leading by at least a 2-point margin wins. If both sides are tied, then play continues until one side wins by 2 points.

Serving

Service always begins on the right-hand court, and alternates between the left- and right-hand court after each point scored by the serving side. The serve switches after a fault is made by the serving side. In a doubles format, the serve switches to the 1st server'ss partner before switching to the opposing team.

Court

The dimensions and measurements for the standard pickleball court are 20 feet wide by 44 feet long for both singles and doubles matches. Court lines should be 2 inches wide and measurements should be made to the outside of the lines.

Pickleball court showing zones: non-volley zone, net (3 ft tall), left/right service areas, sideline, centerline, baseline

Pickleball Terms

Carry

Hitting the ball in such a way that it does not bounce away from the paddle but tends to be carried along on the face of the paddle during its forward motion.

Cross-court

The court diagonally opposite your court.

Dead Ball

The term used to describe the ball after a fault is declared.

Dink Shot

A soft shot that is intended to arc over the net and land within the non-volley zone.

Double Bounce

A ball that bounces more than once, on one side, before it is returned.

Double Hit

One side hitting the ball twice before it is returned over net. Double hits may occur by one player or could involve both players on a team.

Drop Shot

A groundstroke shot that falls short of the opponent’s position.

Drop Shot Volley

A volley shot that is designed to “kill” the speed of the ball and return it short, near the net, to an opponent positioned at or near the baseline.

Fault

A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation.

Groundstroke

Hitting the ball after one bounce.

Half Volley

A groundstroke shot where the paddle contacts the ball immediately after it bounces from the court and before the ball rises to its potential height.

Hinder

Any element or occurrence that affects play.

Let

A serve that hits the net cord and lands in the service court. Let may also refer to a rally that must be replayed for any reason.

Lob

A shot that returns the ball as high and deep as possible, forcing the opposing side back to the baseline.

Non-Volley Zone

The section of court adjacent to the net in which you cannot volley the ball. It includes all lines surrounding the zone.

Second Serve

A term used to describe the condition when a serving team begins the game or subsequently loses the first of its two allocated serves.

Overhead Slam / Smash

A hard, overhand shot usually resulting from an opponent’s lob, high return, or high bounce.

Passing Shot

A volley or groundstroke shot that is aimed at a distance from the player and is designed to prevent return of the ball.

Rally

Continuous play that occurs after the serve and before a fault.

Replays

Any rallies that are replayed for any reason without the awarding of a point or a side out.

Service Court

The area on either side of the centerline, bounded by the non-volley line, the baseline, and the sideline. All lines are included in the service court except the non-volley line.

Side Out

Declared after one side loses its service and other side is awarded service.

Volley

Hitting the ball in the air, during a rally, before the ball has a chance to bounce onto the court.

Rules

Double Bounce Rule

Following the serve, each side must make at least one ground-stroke, prior to volleying the ball (hitting it out of the air).

Non-Volley Zone ("The Kitchen")

A player cannot volley a ball while standing within the non-volley zone.

Line Calls

If any part of the ball lands on the court lines, it is considered in (except in the case of the Non-Volley Line)

First Serve

To begin a new game, only one partner from the first serving side is only allowed to serve. After the first fault, the serve switches to the opposing side.