Pickleball is a sport that requires speed and instinct, as well as a great knowledge of the major pickleball rules. If the players are aware of the rules of pickleball, they have a great advantage over their opponents. Their chances of committing a fault will be slimmer, which will result in them taking the crown and winning the game.
As easy as the sport itself seems, there are a few technical rules that every person needs to familiarize themselves with if they want to be able to play the game fairly. Knowing the major pickleball rules really helped me stay on top of my game and win a couple of matches. This got me thinking of sharing all the rules with the novice players. In the article below, you will find each and every rule of pickleball that will help you make fewer faults and win the game.
What Is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a sport which I like to call a blend of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. This sport requires a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 players and is played in pairs. Each player holds a paddle in their hand and has to hit the ball towards the opposite side of the net. The game is scored based on the points won by each player.
Major Pickleball Rules
Even though the sport itself is quite simple, there are a couple of major pickleball rules that a person should be aware of before they start playing a game of pickleball. The rules are in regard to the court of pickleball, the size of the court, the net, the serve, double bounce, single bounce, scoring, and many other things. These rules make sure that a smooth and fair game is played. I have made a list of all of these rules and discussed each one in detail below.
- Pickleball Court Rules
- Pickleball Serving Rules
- Serving Sequence in Pickleball
- Pickleball No Volley Rule
- Pickleball Double Bounce Rule
- Pickleball Second Bounce Rule
- Pickleball Out-Of-Bounds Rule
- Pickleball Net Rules
- Pickleball Scoring Rules
- Double Play Positions in Pickleball
- Pickleball Call-Out Rules
- Faults In Pickleball
1. Pickleball Court Rules
The first set of pickleball rules that every player must familiarize themselves with is in regards to the court. Pickleball is played on a court, much like tennis. Similar to tennis, the court is divided in half by a net, with both players on each side of the net. However, court rules of pickleball are slightly different than tennis.
First of all, the court that pickleball is played on needs to be 44 feet in length and 22 feet in width. The net is placed right in the center of the court, with 22 feet x 20 feet space on both sides. The first court rule is that the edge of the 44×20 feet area of the court is the baseline of the court, and the ball must not go outside the baseline.
In addition to that, a line is marked 7 feet starting from the net towards both ends of the court. These 7 feet area on both sides of the net is called the non-volley zone, and the players cannot make a volley shot while standing in the non-volley zone. After excluding the non-volley zone from the court, each player on both sides of the net gets 15 x 20 feet of playing area.
2. Pickleball Serving Rules
The second set of pickleball rules that every player should know about is about making a serve. A serve is basically when one player starts the game by tossing the ball towards the other end of the net through their paddle. To decide which team will make the first serve of the game, a coin can be flipped. Any other method such as number selection can also be done to determine which team will get to make the first serve. A really important rule of serving is that the first serve can only be made from the right side of the court.
3. Serving Sequence in Pickleball
The rules above were all about how to make a serve; now comes the question, how to decide the sequence of serving? When a player makes a serve and gets his serve terminated, the right to make a serve is passed to his teammate. In case the teammate makes a serve, and the opponent’s team makes a rally, then the serve is passed to the opponent. In addition to that, when a server makes a serve from the right side of the court and wins a point, then he will make the serve again, but this time the serve will be made from the other side, i.e., the left side of the court.
Each player only gets one chance of making a serve, and if failed to do so, the right to make a serve is passed on to other players present on the court. There are three types of serves that include high soft serve, power serve, and soft angle serve. Each one of these three major serving types requires hitting the ball underhand. The basic and most important rule of underhand serving the ball is that the server must hit the ball with their paddle below their waistline. The player must hold the ball in one hand and then make an underhand serve with their other hand.
A really important thing to keep in mind is that when making an underhand serve, the server cannot throw the ball up and hit it while it is mid-air. In addition to that, a serve must be made in a way that the ball should not bounce on the court on the server’s side; when struck, the ball should pass over the net and land on the opponent’s side of the net.
A really critical thing to keep in mind is that the ball cannot be struck to go forward in a straight line. It should only go forward towards the opponent’s side in a diagonal line. This rule applies to a single game as well as a double game. Furthermore, while making a serve, the server must stand behind the baseline of the court.
In case of violation of these serving rules, the serve is terminated, and either the opponent player or the teammate gets to make the second serve to start the match. If the serving rules if violated and a fault is committed by the first server of a team, then the serve will be passed to the second player of the team. If the fault is committed by the second player of the team, then the serve will be passed to the opponent team.
4. Pickleball No Volley Rule
Volleying in pickleball refers to hitting the ball mid-air before it hits the ground. No volley rules are a critical part of pickleball rules; therefore, if you want to ace and win every game of pickleball, you need to be aware of the non-volley zone and the rules regarding that zone. Firstly, the non-volley zone is the area that starts from the net and goes 7 feet forward on the court, on both sides of the net. Non-volley zone is also referred to as the kitchen.
The first no-volley rule is that after the ball has bounced on both sides of the net once and a double bounce has happened, then the players can hit the ball mid-air before it touched the ground. However, a really critical rule here is that the ball must not be struck mid-air while standing in the no-volley area. Even if the player steps on the lines of the no-volley zone to hit the ball, it is considered a fault. An important point to note here is that if the ball has bounced in the player’s side of the net once, then the player can hit it while standing in the non-volley zone.
5. Pickleball Double Bounce Rule
Another important set of pickleball rules which make sure that the game of pickleball is played smoothly is that is double bounce rule. The double bounce rule states that when a server makes a serve, and the ball goes towards the opponent’s side of the court, it must bounce once on the court before the opponent can strike it and throw it back towards the server.
After the opponent’s strike, the ball must bounce once on the server’s side of the court before it is struck again. Once the ball has bounced one on both sides of the net, the double bounce rule is observed, and a rally is started. After the double bounce, each player present on both sides of the net is free to hit the ball mid-air, which means make a volley, or they can let it bounce once before striking it.
6. Pickleball Second Bounce Rule
The second bounce rule is a really critical one; therefore, you must know it by heart if you wish to win every game of pickleball or simply improve your pickleball playing skills. The second bounce rule implies that the ball can only bounce once on each side of the net before it is struck. If the ball bounces on the court twice before the player strikes it towards the opponent’s side of the court, it is considered a fault.
7. Pickleball Out-Of-Bounds Rule
The pickleball court has baselines, which denote the playing area where the players have the freedom the hit the ball and let it bounce. The area that is outside of the baseline of the court is known as the out-of-bounds area. The major rule regarding the out-of-bounds area is that the players are not allowed to hit the ball in that area. If the ball lands in the out-of-bounds region, then the serve is lost, and the other team gets to make the serve.
8. Pickleball Net Rules
The first rule of the net is that the net should be placed right in the center of the court, with 22 feet x 20 feet space on both sides. This is a really critical rule if a fair game has to be played. The net ensures that fair shots are being played, as there is an equal amount of space on both sides of the net.
In addition to that, the net that is placed in the middle of the court has to be 36 inches tall. It is important to make sure that the net should be precisely 36 inches tall from the sides, and from the center, it can be 34 inches tall, as the net sags slightly from the center.
9. Pickleball Scoring Rules
Scoring rules are critical when it comes to pickleball, as these rules make sure that a fair and square game is being played. The first scoring rule of pickleball is that only the team who is making the serve can win a point. If the players on the right side of the net are making a serve, then only they can win the rally and hence, the point. If the opponent team wins that rally, they do not win a point; instead, the serve is passed to them.
In addition to that, a point can also be scored when the opposing team makes a fault. After getting the serve, they will be able to win a point. Furthermore, a really critical thing to keep in mind is that a game of pickleball is played up to a total of 11 points. However, that is not always the case; both of the teams can decide the number of total points before the match, if they want to, the game can be played to 15 and even 21 points.
The first team to score 11 points wins the game. However, in order for a team to be declared the winners, there must be a difference of 2 points between the prospective winning team and the opponent team. For instance, the winning team will only win the match if they have 11 points and the opponent team has 9 points. In case one team has scored 11 points, but the opponent team has 10 points, then the game will not end till there is a gap of two points between both teams. The match is ended, and a team is declared the winner when there is a difference of two points.
10. Double Play Positions in Pickleball
When a double match is being played, then the positions of the players on both sides of the net are slightly different than those of a single match. In a double match, there are two players on both sides of the net. Both players of the team that is making the serve have to stand behind the baseline. This is an important t rule, as not just the player who is making the serve is supposed to stand behind the baseline, but his teammate has to stand behind as well.
On the other side of the net, the player that is on the left side of the court has to stand near the net, right behind the non-volley zone. The second opponent player has to stand at the back, behind the baseline of the court. In addition to that, the server can only hit the ball diagonally towards the opponent’s side of the net. If failed to do so, the serve will be passed to the teammate of the server.
11. Pickleball Call-Out Rules
This seems like a small part of the game, but call-out rules are important if a fair game needs to be played. Call out basically keeps the players informed of their score, as well as who gets to make the serve. When a call-out is being made, it consists of a total of three numbers. The first number denotes the score of the team that is currently the serving team.
The second call-out number is the score of the opponent or the receiving team. The third call-out number is the most interesting one; it basically tells who gets to make the serve. If the call out is 1, that means that the first player of the serving team will make the serve to start the rally. In case the call out is 2, it means that it is the turn of the second player of the serving team to make the serve.
12. Faults In Pickleball
Faults in pickleball denote violation of rules; if a player makes an out-of-bounds shot, it is considered a fault. In addition to that, if a player makes a volley shot in the non-volley area, it is considered as a fault. If a player is making a serve and they make a fault, they will lose their serve, and the serve will be passed to their teammate.
Furthermore, it is also a fault when a player hits the ball into the net instead of passing it over the net onto the other side of the court. Striking the ball and making it go from under the net is also a fault. In addition to that, the faults of one team also result in the opponent team earning a point.
Can you bounce the ball before you serve in pickleball?
Yes, the ball can bounce as many times as the server wants it to before they hit it and throw it towards the other side of the court. Unlike other shots of the game, the serve is not bound to be made right after the first bounce of the ball. However, a really important thing to keep in mind here is that the player who is making the serve is only given 10 seconds to make the serve, so they have to hit the ball and make the serve in those 10 seconds, or the serve will be passed to another player.
Is it better to serve first in pickleball?
It is not important that the side that is making the first serve will win the rally and score a point. The major disadvantage of serving first is that the serving team has to stand outside the baseline of the court, while the receiving team has a player standing right next to the net. Therefore, it is easier for the receiving team to return the serve and strike the ball back towards the serving team. If you are quicker, then serving first is good for you; otherwise, you should stick to receiving first.
What are the basics of pickleball?
The basics of pickleball include hitting the ball right after it bounces once on the court and before the second bounce. In addition to that, making a proper serve as well as hitting the ball in a diagonal direction towards the opponent’s side of the net also comes under the umbrella of the basics of pickleball.
Do you get two serves in pickleball?
No, every player present on the court is only allowed to make one serve. If the server commits a fault, then they lose the serve, and their serve is passed either to their own teammate or the opponent team. The only option where a player is allowed to make two serves is when the ball touches the net when the serve is being made. If the ball touches the net and falls into the service court, it is considered a let, and the server is permitted to make a second serve.
What is poaching in pickleball?
The term poaching in pickleball refers to a player crossing the center line and moving from their playing area into their teammate’s playing area to make a shot. In a double match, each player on both sides of the net has their own playing area, divided by the centerline of the court. If you cross the centerline and move into your teammate’s area to hit the ball, it is called poaching. Poaching is not exactly a fault, but some players do consider it offensive.
Pickleball is a sport that is not just won by speed and practice. Winning a game of pickleball requires a lot more than mere speed, which you will only find out if you properly familiarize yourself with the major pickleball rules. I have shared each and every rule above that will help you play a fair game, as well as reduce your chances of making a fault and losing a point.
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