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How To Play Pickleball | Beginners Guide To The Rules

How To Play Pickleball

If you have never heard of pickleball before then we are glad to inform you. This sport is quickly gaining popularity due to its ease of accessibility and how much fun it is. Anyone can learn how to play pickleball as the rules are quite simple. All you need is a court which most major cities already have which is probably located in your local park – you may have walked past it a thousand times without noticing. With small pickleball paddles and a very forgiving ball this is a safe sport that provides plenty of heart-pumping exercise. Play with partners as well to really up the competitive level. But before you do that read below so you will have a leg up on your opposing team.

We will go through the pickleball rules you need to know to get started and enjoy your game of pickleball.

1. The Court

Pickleball is played on the same size court as badminton, 20’ x 44’, and is split into three sections that are identical for both sides of the court.

  • 2 x service squares
  • 1 x non-volley zone

The net extends the entire width of the court and is 36” high.

The pickleball court remains the same for both 1v1 play and for 2v2 matches, so the best pickleball set will be perfect for either.

2. Serving

To serve the ball, the server must keep both feet behind the back line. Starting in the right-hand service square, the server will serve to the service square diagonally across from them. A server must swing underhanded and must keep their racquet below their waist when they hit the ball. The ball must be struck on the upward motion of the server’s swing, and the ball must also bounce in the diagonal service square before the receiving team can return it. If a serve’s first ball bounce is within the non-volley zone then that is a fault and the serving team loses its serve and it switches to the receiving team. Only one serve attempt is allowed.

3. The Two Bounce Rule

The double bounce rule affects the serve and the return. When serving, the opposing team must let the ball bounce within the service square. This is the first ball bounce. During the return, the ball must bounce in either of the service boxes on the serving side of the court. Once these two bounces happen, the double bounce rule has been satisfied and both sides are now allowed to volley whenever they want.

4. The No Volley Zone

The no volley zone is a 7’ section that is on both sides of the net. No volleys may be performed by a player who is within this non-volley zone. It is considered a fault if a player steps in or on the line of this zone either before, during or after a volley shot.

This non volley zone rule is meant to protect against smashes or spikes.

5. Scoring & Winning

To win, a player or team must be the first to score 11 points. You must win by at least 2 points for the game to end, and you can only score points when you are on the serving side. If a “point” is scored by the non-serving team or player then no point is recorded but that team now gains control of the serve.

Pickleball Top Tips

Pickleball Top Tips
  • Get to the kitchen line early – by doing this you can put pressure on your opponents. Don’t rush too early though, you don’t want them to smash the ball right at you
  • Keep your opponents back and away from their kitchen line as much as possible – if they are always returning from way back then the chances of you scoring points will be great
  • Make sure your serves always get in play – if you are faulting a lot then giving your opponents free points will not work in your favor
  • Choose your attack spots carefully – yes you want to score points but not at the expense of costing you any
  • You don’t have to score on every shot – make sure when you go for the point that you are in a good position to do so

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can play pickleball with only 2 players. One player will stand on either side of the court and all the same rules of team pickleball would apply. The court is also the same. Unlike tennis which denotes a smaller playing area than a tennis court for two players, pickleball is played on the same court for both 1v1 and 2v2 so the ball out of bounds area is the same.

Players only get one hit per side. The ball must be returned over the net and within the lines of your opponent’s side of the court. If it’s after the serve, you may volley the ball over the net so long as you are not standing in the non volley zone.

The two bounce rule is only in effect during the serve and the subsequent shot. A serve must ensure that the ball bounces within the diagonal service box before it can be returned. That return must also bounce once before the serving team can hit it. After those two bounces occur then either team can now volley whenever they want. The double bounce rule eliminates the serve and volley advantage.

Yes, you can slice serve in pickleball. This is a tough maneuver to master but with some practice you can confuse your opponent and make it very difficult for them to return the serve. Slicing refers to the spin you impart after you hit the ball. By “slicing” your paddle through the ball you put extra spin on the ball so when it hits the ground its bounce is unpredictable. 

No, you cannot hit a pickleball with your hand. If the ball inadvertently hits your non racquet hand or any other part of your body then the ball is dead and the server switches sides – service passes to the other team. If the ball hits your racquet hand anywhere below the wrist then the ball is considered to still be in play.

Conclusion

Whether playing doubles or one-on-one, pickleball is a great way for people to enjoy a racquetball game in a leisurely manner. It is great for kids as the court is small and the ball is relatively big, making it easy for children to see and react. Learn how to play pickleball and get out there for a great source of exercise, and a great way to get outdoors and enjoy some sun.

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