Welcome to a complete Players Guide of Pickleball Rules, including scoring rules, serving, non volley zone, kitchen rules and a further discussion on pickleball singles serving strategies & pickleball court.
Apart from that, a fine addition to this article is the sport comparison of Pickleball vs table tennis, wiffle ball. With much assurance of study with ease.
Let’s move ahead.
Pickleball Rules | Scoring, Serving, Non Volley Zone, Faults, Court
Pickleball is a fast growing and well-known game in America. It’s unique, entertaining, competitive and above all the easiest game to learn.
Pickle-ball is basically an eclectic game, as it combines the elements of Tennis, Ping Pong (Table Tennis) and Badminton. In this game which you send a perforated wiffle ball back and forth with the help of a handheld paddle, over an exactly 34 inches net fixed in the middle of the court.
You can play it as either singles or doubles. The singles play against each other; one on one, while the doubles may be a clash of two teams; two on two.
Historically, pickleball was developed by three fast friends; Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington State, USA, in 1965. As story goes on; these three friends, generally referred as Three-Dads, were on their summer vacation, with their families, on Brainbridge island, near Seattle.
One Saturday, after they (three friends) returned to their families from golf ground (after playing golf), they found their kids bored and tired of their usual summertime activities. So, they decided to amuse their kids by playing any game with them in order to make their kids enjoy their vacation. Initially, they wanted to play badminton, but fortunately! they did not have all the needed equipment for badminton.
So, interestingly, they had to improvise with the equipment they had. And by so doing, they ended up creating a composite game that combines the elements of three games; badminton (court), tennis (modified net) and ping pong (honeycombed paddle and a wiffle ball).
Pickleball, as a game, has emerged from genuine handmade wooden equipment and straightforward rules into a very popular and much loved sport all over the US and Canada. The sport is growing internationally too. Many European and Asian countries have started adding pickleball courts. We have covered detailed history & equipment in Pickle ball here.
Pickleball Rules & Regulations in Detail
As like other sports, Pickleball has a set of approved rules & regulation as per Pickleball Association to play it accordingly.
1. Scoring Rules
In pickleball points are scored only by the serve and the receiving side cannot score a point. At the onset of the game, the player being on the right side (or even court) serves to the player standing in diagonally opposite court.
In case a point is added to the score, the server shifts to the left side (odd court) and serves to the opponent who is on the diagonally opposite court. The first and foremost object of the players, in any of the games, is to achieve victory against their opponents. In pickle ball game, this object is met by scoring as much as 11 points before one’s opponent.
Acquiring 11 points does not guarantee you success, but you must lead your opponent by 2 points setup. It means, you must be 2 points ahead of your opposite contestant when your score reaches the final destination; 11 points. Score is announced loudly with each serve by the server in both; singles and doubles.
The sequence of score in doubles has to be;
- Server’s score, 2. Receiver’s score, 3. The number of server (it’s usually 1 for the first server and 2 for the second server of the same team)
The sequence of score in singles has to be;
- Server’s score, 2. Receiver’s score
Note: As there is only one server in singles, so it’s generally understood that the server is first thus there is no need to mention it.
Announcing score in pickleball can be a bit exhausting, but overtime you become more used to calling it aloud.
2. Serving Rules
The serve is a shortened form of service. Similar to tennis, the serve starts off the game. Conventionally, the player who is on the right side of the court starts the serve. The player has to be inside the service box just behind the baseline.
Every serve in pickleball is made with underhand swinging motion. A serve is considered legal only when it crosses the middle net without colliding with it or touching it.
Remember! The serve must not fall in No volley zone; the kitchen
Types of Serves in Pickleball
There are typically two major types of the serve in pickleball. Let’s briefly talk about them.
- Forehand Serve
- Backhand Serve
1). Forehand Serve in Pickleball
It’s the most commonly used serve in pickleball. For attempting this serve, you have to stand, behind the baseline, in a way that your left foot be pointing forward towards the target and right foot to the side.
Now bring your hips forward in order to generate power, take the ball in your left hand, drop it and hit the ball (until it reaches as low as your waist) with an underhand swinging motion. That’s it!
Forehand serve comprises three types viz; High Serve, Power Serve and Soft Angle Serve.
a). High Serve: It’s a universal and excellent serve for all levels. When this serve is played, it lands deep in the court near baseline. Thus, keeps the receiver back and compels him to his own power and speed.
b). Power Serve: It is hit instantly with force. Similar to high serve, it lands deep in the court near baseline. This serve is played when your opponent is playing forward.
C). Soft Angle Serve: Similar to a dink, it is hit slowly and delicately so it drops near the non volley zone. Remember, you can knock out your opponent by acquiring mastery over all types of serves, since they keep your opponent guessing how to face these shots.
2. Backhand Serve
Some players may resort to playing a backhand serve, when they find themselves unable to face the unhindered flight of the ball by adapting a forehand serve.
To achieve the mastery over backhand serve, players who having excelled in a forehand serve, practice this serve over and again.
Just as discussed above, in forehand serve, there too are some varieties of the backhand serve. Most frequently used, among those variations, is a right-handed player assuming a side-stride position, standing behind the baseline, pointing right part toward the target; the net or opponent.
The dominant foot facing forward and the other foot at side. The ball, being held in the left hand, is dropped and hit (until it reaches as low as your waist) with an underhand swinging motion. Backhand serve is considered both; easy to carry out by the server since it relies heavily on the server’s upper body and difficult for receiver while returning it for its normal position of the ball.
3. Double Bounce Rules
This rule is observed during the initial hit from the server and recipient. Let’s elaborate this bit further; the ball, after being served to the opposite side, must be allowed to bounce once before being hit.
In same fashion, the ball is hit back to the serving side which again repeats the same pattern of allowing the ball to bounce once before being hit. After the ball has bounced once on both sides, the ball should be hit without letting it bounce more than once.
4. Non Volley Zone in Pickleball
No volley zone is fondly nicknamed as kitchen. The kitchen measures 7 feet from the middle net on both sides of the court. It is considered danger zone for the players and thus they must not enter this zone during the game.
If this zone is unwittingly touched by the players with either their body parts or equipment, they are supposed to have violated the rule of the game
5. Pickle Ball line Calls Rules
Having knowledge of the line rules in pickleball is of the basic requirements. A player must be well-versed in pickleball line rules if he is really eager to excel in pickleball.
Let’s discuss pickleball line rules briefly.
Here below we have tried to address the important question & confusion you might be having regarding Line Call Rules in Pickleball
1). What is a line exactly?
Generally, it’s a narrow and continuous mark, as one made by a pen, pencil, marker or brush across a surface. More specifically, usually a white or colored band demonstrating a boundary or partition on the surface of a sport ground, field or court.
In pickleball you come across various 2-inches wide lines all over the pickleball court defining different areas of the court. These lines ought to be in striking contrast with the color of the court. However, you, most often, find white lines since the color of the court is somehow dark.
These lines are to indicate that one has to be on specific location for the serve, returning the serve, volleying or such other shots.
If any player or ball mistakenly trespasses these lines, touches any danger zone, falls outside of these lines, a precious point is lost.
2). Line Calls: What are “in” or “out” calls in Pickle Ball?
In: If the ball, after being served/hit, lands inside of the painted lines or touches inner side of those lines, on the other side of the court, is said to be in.
Out: If the ball, after being served/hit, lands outside of the painted lines or touches outer side of those lines, on the other side of the court, is said to be out.
Unlike tennis, where the ball, after being hit by the server, falls on the receiver’s end and it’s impact footprint touches at any point of the line, the ball is declared “in”.
While in pickleball, the ball is considered to have crossed the line thus declared “out” ball, if it’s impact footprint falls either completely outside the line or even touches outside line at any point.
Fortunately, it’s clearly mentioned in the much referred pickleball rule book that declaring the ball out before letting it bounce is regarded teammate communication. Hence, the ball may yet be hit even if it landed in. Conversely, calling a ball “out” after it bounces, is deemed a line call, which concludes the rally.
3). What is kitchen line in Pickle Ball?
The kitchen line is crucial in pickleball. It measures 7 feet from the middle net on both sides of the court. It is considered danger zone for the players and thus they must not enter this zone during the game. If this zone is unwittingly touched by the players with either their body parts or equipment, they are supposed to have violated the rule of the game.
4). What’s considered an out ball in Pickleball?
Unlike tennis, where the ball, after being hit by the server, falls on the receiver’s end and it’s impact footprint touches at any point of the line, the ball is declared in. While in pickleball, the ball is considered to have crossed the line thus declared out ball, if it’s impact footprint falls
either completely outside the line or even touches outside line at any point. Fortunately, it’s clearly mentioned in the much referred pickleball rule book that declaring the ball out before letting it bounce is regarded teammate communication.
Hence, the ball may yet be hit even if it landed in. Conversely, calling a ball “out” after it bounces, is deemed a line call, which concludes the rally.
6. Pickleball Singles Court, Scoring & Strategies
1). Singles Court in Pickleball
Unlike tennis, pickleball usually has the same court for both; singles and doubles. It is typically a badminton sized court which is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide.
A). Pickleball Singles Scoring
The pattern of scoring in singles is different (in one case) from that of doubles. As in singles, you don’t find second server. So there is no need to call yourself as the 1st server (it’s normally understood), and thus the only server calls just two numbers separately such as; his own score first and opponent’s score afterwards.
Note: The server has to serve from right side of the court if his score is in even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8 etc). On the other hand, if the score of the server is in even number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11 ), he has to serve from the left side of the court.
B). Pickleball Singles Strategies
In pickleball singles, strategies are of vital importance since one has to cover a wider area than in doubles. Various strategies come to your rescue in singles, as they provide you with ability to use host of shots with alacrity, promptness and agility. Let’s discuss some common strategies being adapted in pickleball singles:
2). Serving Strategies in Singles
- One should execute serve while being close to the center-line in order that he can efficiently respond a return by being able to cover both the sides; left and right of the court.
- One should hit a ball quite deeper into the receiver’s court in order to make it very inconvenient for the receiver while responding to it and also prevent him from getting to the non-volley line.
- When the situation is otherwise, suppose you are at the baseline, while your opponent is near the the kitchen, you have to play a shot that must clears the net and lands in the kitchen or hit a lob to make the ball fly over your opponent and lands behind him but inside the court. Remember, practice makes a man perfect. Practice and master these strategies yourself.
What is Skinny Singles in Pickleball?
Confused! At first it boggled my mind too and following questions struck to it at once: Should I have to be skinny for playing skinny singles? Can a heavy weight play skinny singles? Is it nly for skinny people?
Let’s find out the answers.
Skinny singles has nothing to do with your physique. No worries whether you are naturally thin, heavy weight, having robust and bulky body, you can still play skinny singles. On the other hand, it is concerned, merely, with the side of court of pickleball.
In skinny singles you are allowed to use only one dimensional court; either one side of it or in a diagonal direction. Skinny singles is very popular among the elderly since it minimizes the area of a pickleball court to a half and thereby offering them a short area to cover.
It’s ideal for those who don’t want to cover entire court of the pickleball. Skinny singles is supposed to be an excellent physical exercise for all ages.
Rule # 7. Pickle Ball Safety Rules
Unlike tennis and other racquet sports, pickleball is quite convenient on our body and lot easier to play too taking in account the size of the court and equipment being used in it.
Prima facie, it doesn’t involve any risks, nevertheless you ought to be bit careful while playing it. Here is a list of precautionary measures one can adapt to be on the safe side and enjoy playing pickleball all along one’s whole life.
- Never rush for shots at the cost of your own safety. Bruised knees or elbows and fractured bones worth more than saving a point. So, just forget the ball that wasn’t, at any moment, in your control.
- Be careful while running backwards during lob shots.
Just take your time to completely settle on your feet, having eyes on the ball, and then run towards the ball. You better know that “HASTE MAKES WASTE”.
- Avoid forcing your body to do what it can’t. (Avoid physical strain)
As prevention is better than cure. So, you had better prevent your intentions from pushing your body towards unattainable things.
Choose a shot that is under your control, grab a paddle that is easy and light on your hands, wear clothes and shoes that are comfortable.
- Pay proper attention to your beloved body.
Give yourself a respite, if you feel exhausted, used up, dizzy or bit sick. Your body is dependent on you and you are dependent on your body. You can outperform only if your body is well taken care of. Take rest, take care of dehydration, pay heed to proper food, chest pressure, shortness of breath, blood pressure and pain in different parts of the body; arms, back, neck and jaw etc.
- Must maintain communication with your teammate while playing doubles.
As gap of communication between teammates may not only cost a point, but also provide a huge blow to your body as a result of collision. You better be shouting “mine or yours” while responding the ball coming from your opponent so as to save both; a point and your body simultaneously.
Hopefully, you will act upon our valuable suggestions. Play pickleball with safety because it always comes FIRST!.
8. Rules of Faults & Penalties in Pickleball
A fault is synonymous with a mistake made by players and thereby losing a point to their opponent. Like tennis, squash and badminton, pickleball also has an invalid serve, such as one that lands either outside the court or inside the danger zone.
Faults rules in Pickleball are discussed as below.
- When you, knowingly or unknowingly, trespass non-volley zone and make a volley from there, it’s declared as a fault.
- When your paddle mistakenly touches or drops inside the surface occupied by the non-volley zone as you hit a volley. It is, though unintentional, a fault.
- While hitting a volley, you cannot drop your snacks, drinking water bottles, sunglasses, wrist watches, keys, gloves, handkerchiefs or even your sports shoes in the non-volley zone. Still considered a fault.
- In doubles, if you, in a attempt to respond your opponent’s shot, hit your partner’s paddle or touch him being in the non-volley zone. It’s a fault in either case.
- When hitting a volley, you might lose your balance and slip down but, in an attempt to save yourself from falling down, you manage to use either of your hands to keep up the balance by touching any part of the non volley zone. That’s a fault.
- If the momentum of your body takes you all along to the non-volley zone, it is a fault. No matter the ball is out or dead.
- It’s still considered a fault even if you were flying up or jumped to hit a volley while being inside the non-volley zone and, after hitting a volley, try to land outside the non volley zone.
Code of Ethics for Playing Pickleball
Without code of ethics a game becomes messy and haphazard. So, it’s very essential to show utter honesty and sportsmanship. Your honesty, integrity and reputation are at stake if you are notorious for unfair line calls.
Remember, pickleball is a very social game as it involves a great number of community members who are well aware of your conduct and personality, in case you try to be mischievous or unjust while being on the court, your social life may also be effected. Therefore, you had better be complying with the moral standards of the game and thus maintaining an upright and trustworthy personality.
1. What type of ball is used in Pickleball?
Pickleball uses a ball that is quite similar, in look and material (plastic or rubber), to a wiffle ball but has multiple holes in it. It comes in multiple colors such as white, yellow and green. There are two types of pickleball; indoor and outdoor.
2. What is Considered a dead ball in Pickleball?
A ball is considered to be dead after its being declared as out. Simply, an out ball becomes a dead ball soon after crossing the confines of the court. Dead ball is no longer effective until it’s reserved or replayed.
3. What is a carry in Pickleball?
Carry – When the ball, after being hit, travels beyond the required distance.
4. What do you mean by poach in Pickleball?
Poach: Usually in doubles, an act of usurping the ball that is destined to go to your partner. In simple terms, to play or hit the ball that belongs to your other partner of the team.
5. What is a side-out in Pickleball?
Side-Out: The side-out is observed when the server, after committing a fault, loses the serve and thus the serve automatically shifts to opponent’s side.
6. What is a rally in Pickleball?
A rally is a continuous exchange of shots between two players or two teams. The rally goes on and on until one side misses the shot and loses a point.
7. What is the major difference between two
famous shots; a dink and a lob in the Pickleball? A dink: is a delicate and gentle strike, struck softly with the pickleball paddle, so as to make the ball just cross the net and land in the kitchen.
A lob: contrary to the dink, the act of striking the ball in a high arc with more force than that of a dink, so as to make it fly over the opponent who has just advanced and come near the net.
8. What is an ace in Pickleball?
Ace – When a serve is retained by the opponent.
9. Who can play Pickleball and is there any age factor in it?
Pickleball is an ageless sport. You may see infants on the court watching eagerly to their parents playing the game. Here, I mean not those babies mewling and puking in nurses’ arms (kidding).
Generally speaking, whosoever has come of a sensible age and has acquired physical movements (that allow you maintain your balance while being on the court, and hold a paddle quite firmly) can play it be it a child, a teenage, an adult or even the elderly. In nutshell, pickleball is a fun for all ages.
10. Name the games from where the rules of Pickleball have evolved?
Pickleball is an eclectic game which has evolved from tennis, ping pong and badminton. It has adopted the rules of these three seemingly different games.
IFP: International Federation of Pickleball has published the rules of pickleball with title “IFP Official Tournament Rulebook”.
11. What to wear to Play Pickleball?
What to wear when playing is at your disposal. It’s you who decide what is better and comfortable for your body. In pickleball, players often wear anything comfortable and suitable for the climate.
The attire may be athletic shorts, trousers, sweatpants, wicking clothes, fancy t-shirts, caps etc. It’s quite common for females to wear tennis-style dresses and skirts.
Let’s now wrap up on this, I am quite sure that this informative, research based, authentic and interesting article has provided you with the most valuable knowledge of the basics as well as essentials of the much loved game PICKLEBALL.