what is pickleball?

What is Pickleball and How Do You Play? 

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. It is played using a paddle, a plastic ball (similar to a wiffle ball) and a tennis-type net on a court about the size of a badminton court. Players can participate as singles or doubles. The game is easy for players at all levels and all ages to learn, but it can also become an action-packed, fast-paced game for more experienced players.

How to Play Pickleball: The Basics

Begin with either a single player on each side of the net (singles) or with two (doubles). To start, the first player will serve the ball using an underhand motion (without bouncing the ball on the server’s side) diagonally across the court and over the net to the other side of the court.

Pickleball Scoring

A point is scored when the serving side serves and the opponent faults, does not return the ball or hits the ball out of bounds.

Since only the serving side can score, the server will continue their serve, alternating service courts, until the serving side faults. In doubles, each player keeps serving until their team faults. Then the serve is “side out” or turns over to the opponent(s). The first player (singles) or team (doubles) that scores 11 points with a 2-point margin wins the game. The winning team must win by at least 2 points. So, if the game is tied, the game continues until one side wins by a 2-point margin.

Fault

A fault can be committed in five ways:

  • The pickleball ball is hit out of bounds.
  • The ball does not clear the net.
  • The pickleball is volleyed from the non-volley zone.
  • The pickleball is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side.
  • The ball touches any part of the non-volley zone on the serve, including the line.

How to Serve the Pickleball

When serving a pickleball, always toss the ball underhand and hold the paddle below the waist while keeping your feet behind the back line. Always hit the ball in the air without allowing it to bounce.

If you are serving, always begin play on the right-hand side of the court, alternating between the left- and right-hand sides of the court after the serving side has scored a point. The serve ‘turns over’ to the opponent when the serving side faults.

In doubles play, the serve switches to the server’s partner before switching to the opposing team.

When you serve, you are not allowed to hit the ball off a bounce—it must be in the air. You are allowed only one serve attempt unless the pickleball ball touches the net on the serve and lands in the proper service court, in which case you may serve again.

The first player serving at the beginning of any new game is allowed just one fault before giving up the pickleball to the opposing team. In doubles play and after the first serving player faults, both members of each team will be able to serve and fault before they turn the serve over to the other team. When a receiving team wins the serve, they must start the play with the player on the right-hand side of the court.

Pickleball Court Size

(Applies to both singles and doubles play)

A standard pickleball court: 20 feet in width x 44 feet in length

Court lines: 2 inches wide

Measurements are made to the outside of the lines

Special Pickleball Rules

Non-Volley Zone

A volley is when the ball is hit in the air without bouncing. The non-volley zone is the area seven feet behind the net where the ball cannot be volleyed. If a player steps over the line while following through on a volley, it is a fault.

Double Bounce Rule or Two-Bounce Rule

Following a serve, each side must make at least one ground-strike before the pickleball can be hit without bouncing (volleying). After these two strikes have occurred, the ball can either be volleyed or played off the bounce.

Line Calls

If the ball lands on the court’s lines, it is considered “in” unless it lands on a non-volley line.

First Serve

Only one partner from the first serving side is allowed to serve to begin a new game. Once the first team commits the first fault, the serve switches to the opposing team.