How To Play Pickleball

Pickleball is a fast-growing sport that many people of all ages and skill levels enjoy all over the world! It is a combination of badminton, tennis, and ping pong and is played on a court that is similar in size to a doubles badminton court. In this article, we’ll be breaking down some of the key elements any pickleball player should be familiar with including some of the most important rules, how to score points, and strategies of the game so you can learn how to play pickleball!

Pickleball Rules

Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate pickleball player, it’s good for you to know the pickleball rules and basics of the game. For the most up-to-date, detailed look at the official pickleball rulebook for 2023, please visit USA Pickleball’s website.

Basic Knowledge Of The Setup

Pickleball is played with a perforated plastic ball that is similar in size and weight to a Wiffle ball. There is a different ball to use for indoors versus outdoor.

The game is played on a pickleball court that is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, with a 7-foot non-volley zone (also known as the “kitchen”) on each side of the net. Unlike a tennis court, pickleball courts are smaller.

The net is 34 inches high at the sidelines and 36 inches high in the center.

The game is played with pickleball paddles that are somewhat similar in shape to a table tennis paddle, but slightly larger. Unlike tennis racquets, these paddles are not perforated meaning they do not have any holes.

Basic Rules To Play Pickleball

The server must serve the ball diagonally, from the right service court, and each team must let the ball bounce on their side of the court before they hit it back. The serve attempt must be executed in an underhand motion.

As of 2023, the official pickleball rulebook states that you cannot release the ball with spin on it and then serve the ball with additional spin on it. With that being said, you can still do a spin serve with no fault.

The two-bounce rule indicates that, after the ball is served, players on each side of the court need to let the ball bounce once before hitting it to the opposing team’s side of the court.

After achieving the two-bounce rule, the ball can be hit after one bounce or it can be hit out of the air.

The ball can be hit with any part of the paddle, and players are allowed to use different shots such as volleys, dinks, and smashes.

The ball must be hit over the net and into the opponent’s court.

The ball is considered out if it hits the net post or cable, or if it goes out of bounds.

A serve is considered in as long as it is within the opposing team’s service courts and diagonal from the server. The center line is considered in; However, if a serve touches the kitchen line or falls within the kitchen, the serve is considered out of bounds.

The serving team scores a point if the opposing team commits a fault (such as hitting the ball out of bounds, into the non-volley zone, or into the net).

During doubles play, if the first serve is no good, or if the serving team does not get the point, then the next serve goes to the opposing team’s court.

After the first rally in pickleball, if the first server loses their point by missing the opportunity to return a ball or by fault, then the second server, on the left service court, serves on the same side of their court.

Pickleball games are typically played to 11 points, and a team must win by at least 2 points.

How To Score Points In Pickleball

A game of pickleball is typically played to 11 points and a team must win by at least 2 points. For example, if the score reaches 10-10, the game continues until one team wins by 2 points.

The game can also be played to 21 points and in that case, the team must win by at least 2 points as well.

In tournament play, a third game to 11 points is played if the score is tied after the first two games.

Only the serving team can score a point. If you are on the receiving team, you must act defensively and have good strategies in place to get the ball back to your first server so you can start earning points. This can be done by getting the opposing team to cause a fault or not be able to return the ball.

Pickleball Strategies

Serve Strategically

The serve is an important shot in pickleball. A good serve can put your opponent on the defensive, giving you an advantage in the point. Try to mix up your serves, hitting some deep, some short, some to the middle of the opposing team’s service court, some to the corners, and even by adding spin to your next serve.

Play Smart Volleys

Volleys are shots hit before the ball bounces. They are important for keeping the ball low and making it difficult for your opponent to hit. Be sure to keep the ball low and hit it softly so that it doesn’t give your opponent an easy shot.

Use The Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) To Your Advantage

The non-volley zone (also known as the “kitchen”) is the area on each side of the net that players are not allowed to step into and hit if the ball is in mid-air. Use this area to your advantage by hitting the ball or landing your dink shot just over the net and into the non-volley zone, making it difficult for your opponent to hit the ball.

Communicate With Your Partner

You may see pickleball played in singles play but you’ll often see people playing doubles, so communication with your partner is key. Call the ball, call the shots, and work together to keep the ball in play. A good pickleball tip is to have whoever is serving on your side, as the person who should have the responsibility of calling the ball.