Skip to content

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!

How to Play Pickleball

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.

Pickleball Serving Rules

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's partner before switching to the opposing team. Serves should always be done underhand with the paddle below the waist. The server must keep both feet behind the back line when serving. When serving, the pickleball ball should be hit into the air without being bounced. The server isn't allowed to bounce the pickleball ball and hit it off the bounce. Only one serve attempt is allowed, except if the pickleball touches the net on the serve and lands in the proper service court. If this happens, the serve may be taken over again. At the start of each new game, the first team serving is allowed only one fault before they must give the pickleball ball up to their opponents. Thereafter, both members of each time get a chance to serve and fault before they hand the pickleball back over to the opposing team again. When the receiving team wins the serve, the right-hand court player will always start play.

Court Size

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 RULES

Double Bounce Rule

This can also been called the Two Bounce Rule. Following the serve, each side must make at least one ground-stroke, prior to volleying the pickleball ball (hitting it out of the air). Once these two bounces have occurred, the pickleball ball can either be volleyed or played off the bounce. 

Double-bounce rule serving and receiving

Non-Volley Zone ("The Kitchen")

Volleying means hitting a ball in the air without first letting it bounce. A player cannot volley a ball while standing within the non-volley zone, which is seven feet behind the net. It is a fault if the player steps over the line on his volley follow-through.

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.

Position of players at net when volleying

Fault

There are five possible pickleball faults. A fault can be committed when the pickleball ball is hit out of bounds, does not clear the net, is volleyed from the non-volley zone, is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side, or touches any part of the non-volley zone on the serve, including the line.

Scoring

A pickleball team can only score points when it's their turn serving. A player who is serving can continue serving until a fault is made by their team. If playing doubles, each player can keep serving until their team makes a fault, then the serve moves to the opponents' team, which is called a Side Out. The game is played to 11 points. A team must win by two points. To learn more about scoring and how to keep score in pickleball, read our blog here.