You’ve heard it time and time again! Pickleball IS America’s fastest growing sport. From the formation of Major League Pickleball (MLP) in 2021 to Lebron James and Tom Brady’s recent investment into their own pickleball teams, pickleball participants have skyrocket from 5 million players to 36.5 million American’s playing pickleball in 2022 alone. Needless to say, pickleball is causing a RACKET and has American’s dinking across the nation! Ready to play? Get started with our official pickleball rules and basic terms you need to know before hitting the court.
Pickleball is a cross between tennis and ping pong. It is primarily a team sport consisting of 4 players; 2 players per team – “doubles.” However, it can also be played with one player per team, commonly known as “singles.” Whether you play doubles or singles, the court size remains the same.
The Rules – Simplified
- Pick your teammate and your opponents – just two people per team, one team per side, 1 person per large rectangle.
- You can only score points on a serve. Game goes to 11 points and you must win by 2.
- The serve must always be underhanded, below the waste, with one foot behind the baseline of the court and hit diagonally across the court avoiding the kitchen – aka the “no-volley zone” (the long rectangles closest to the net).
- The player on the right side of the court always serves first. Switching court sides with his teammate every time a point is scored. Turning over the ball to his teammate once a fault is committed.
- Once both teammates fault on their serves, the ball is turned over to the opposing team.
- On the very first serve of the game, only one player will serve. Turning the ball over to the opposite team on a fault. After this round, both players on each team get the opportunity to serve.
- On a serve, both teams must let the ball bounce once before returning. After, the ball can be hit in the air or on a single bounce until a point is scored or a fault is committed. No double bouncing allowed – EVER.
- Players can only step into the kitchen – aka the “no volley zone” – once the ball bounces. Stepping into the kitchen and hitting the ball before it bounces is considered a fault.
- A ball touching any court lines is considered “in” and a ball that hits the net is still in play.
- Players are not confined to their rectangles and can step out of bounds as needed but must abide by the kitchen rules.
Take the official pickleball rules with you to any game.
Pickleball Terms You Should Know
- Ace: a serve that’s not returned by the opposing team.
- Banger: a player that consistently hits the ball with power and prefers not to dink softly over the net.
- Baseline: the serving line at the back of the pickleball court that run parallel to the net. Stand behind it when serving.
- Dink: lightly hitting the ball back and forth over the net in attempt to decrease high power movements.
- Fault: a violation of the pickleball rules. For example, not letting the ball bounce before hitting it on a serve.
- Kitchen: also known as the no-volley zone, are the long rectangles on either side of the net.
- Lob: a ball that is hit as high in the air and deep towards the baseline of the court.
- Sideline: the lines on each side of the pickleball court, perpendicular to the net. If the ball bounces beyond these lines, it is “out.”
- Two-bounce rule: on a serve, each team must let the ball bounce before returning. Team 1 serves. Team 2 let’s the ball bounce before hitting and returning. Once returned, Team 1 has to let the ball bounce before returning again to Team 2.
- Rally: is continuous play without fault.
- Smash: powerful overhand shot usually the response to a lob.