Pickleball is a simple, enjoyable game that anybody can learn to play, but it is also a game rich in strategy. There are, nevertheless, a few basic guidelines on how to play the game of pickleball that every newcomer should grasp, from serving to volleying.
In general, pickleball players must remember the following to prevent making mistakes or “faults”:
- A serve should land in the receiving court.
- The ball should not hit the net on the serve or any return.
- A ball in play should not strike a player or anything he or she is wearing or carrying.
- A ball in play should not strike any permanent object before bouncing on the court.
- The ball should not be volleyed from the non-volley zone.
- The ball should not be volleyed before a bounce on each side.
- The ball should not bounce twice before being struck by the receiver.
- The ball should not be hit out of bounds.
1. Serving Guidelines for Pickleball
The general serving rule is that every serve must be lowered with one hand and hit with the underhand from below the waist without bouncing, pass over the net, and bounce past the diagonally opposite court on the non-volley line. Other guidelines to remember include:
- The server must begin the serve with at least one foot behind the baseline, and neither foot may touch the baseline or the court until the ball has been struck.
- Unless the server hit the ball into the net and it lands on the other side in the proper service court (known as a “let”), the server are only allowed one serve attempt per server.
- The server‘s feet may not contact the court or the imaginary extension of the sideline or centerline at the time the ball is struck, and at least one foot must be behind the baseline on the playing surface or on the ground behind the baseline.
- There is also the option of a ‘drop serve,‘ in which case none of the characteristics listed above apply.
2. Rules for Pickleball Serving Sequence
Pickleball’s service sequence can be quite confusing, especially when played in doubles. These guidelines will assist players in determining where and when to serve.
- In a doubles game, both players on each team serve until they commit a fault.
- During the first service of each game, only one player from the first serving team gets to serve before service is passed to the opposite team.
- The initial serve is always from the right hand court when service changes sides.
- Every time a team scores, the players alternate sides of the court for the next serve.
Rules for Singles Pickleball Serving Sequence
When playing singles, the server serves from the right side of the court when the score is equal, and from the left side of the court when the score is odd.
Rules for Doubles Team Pickleball Serving Sequence
When the first server in a doubles match loses the serve, the partner moves to the side of the court where their partner last served.
3. Pickleball’s Serving Team Rule
A coin toss determines who gets to serve first. The coin toss winner will have the choice of choosing a side, serving or receiving.
4. Pickleball Scoring Rules
The first rule of pickleball etiquette is that the score should be announced by the server. Only the serving team scores points.
Pickleball is traditionally played to a score of 11 points. The winning side, however, must win by at least two points. The game continues if a team has 11 points and the other team has 10.
Tournament games are sometimes played to 15 or 21 points and must be won by two points.
5. Rule for Pickleball Call-Outs
The call-out in doubles pickleball games involves three numbers (0-0-0). The first number represents the score of the serving team, the second is the score of the opponent, and the third is either a 1 or a 2 (referring to the serving rotation).
6. Pickleball Double Bounce Rule
Also called the “two-bounce rule,” this rule says that the receiving team must allow the ball to bounce before returning it, and the serving team must allow the ball to bounce before returning it.
No bounces are required after the first two returns. The player can next strike the ball with a ground stroke or a volley, depending on whether the ball bounces first.
7. Second Bounce Rule in Pickleball
This is undoubtedly the most significant and distinctive rule in pickleball. It’s a lesson that almost every pickleball player overlooks, especially if they’re the ones doing the service.
Before being returned, the ball cannot bounce on the same side of the net twice. A fault is awarded if a shot is not returned after the initial bounce.
8. Rule of the Out of Bounce in Pickleball
Pickleball’s ball cannot fall out of boundaries, unlike most racquet or paddle sports. The white lines on either side of the court define where the ball can and cannot be hit.
Each hit is expected to bounce within the opponent’s side’s parameters. This provides the player with a 20′x22‘ area in which to land any non-served shot.
The server loses its serve chance or gives the ball back to the opposing side if they hit the ball out of bounds. Unfortunately, the server will be at a disadvantage as a result of this blunder. Furthermore, it has the ability to change the game’s final outcome.
9. Pickleball Volleying Rules
Volleying, or the hitting of the ball before it bounces out of the air, has its own set of basic rules as well. This makes the game of pickleball one of the most interesting paddle sports for amateurs and professionals.
- Volleying is prohibited within the non-volley zone (or the kitchen) , which is defined as a region of the court within seven feet of the net on both sides and indicated with a line on pickleball courts.
- Volleying is not permitted in the non-volley zone, preventing net smashes.
- When volleying, stepping in the non-volley zone or even on the line is considered a fault.
- When the momentum leads the player into the kitchen or causes the player to touch the line after a volley, the player made a mistake.
- As long as the player is not volleying the ball, the player can be in the non-volley zone at any time.
10. Pickleball Line Call Rules
Pickleball, like most racquet sports, relies on the players’ honesty in calling in or out shots.
According to etiquette, players should call the lines as honestly and fairly as possible. On their side of the net, players should call the lines, and opponents will do the same. Unless prompted, opponents should never make a call on the opposing side of the net.
- Balls that contact any line on a serve, save the non-volley zone line, are deemed in.
- Serves that come into contact with the non-volley zone line are too short and result in a fault.
If a team can’t agree on a line call, the advantage is always given to the opposing team. If a team seeks an opponent’s opinion, the decision is final.
12. Pickleball Non-Volley Zone Rules
The kitchen, or non-volley zone, is a 7′ x 20′ rectangle on both sides of the net. This section was created since pickleball was supposed to be a family game, and players must stay back from the net when hitting the ball in the air. As a result, the number of smashes and potential injuries to an opposition player is reduced. This also aids in the formation of longer rallies.
Under the no-volley rule, a player is not allowed to enter the kitchen to volley the ball. This includes stepping on the line before or after the volley is actually played.
The player can enter the kitchen to obtain a ball that bounces in first. They can stand in the kitchen all day, but can’t play with the ball in the air. Stepping in after the ball has been missed or hit by the opponents is a mistake.