10 Essential Rules of Pickleball You Need to Know

Pickleball is a fast-growing sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is played with a paddle and a plastic ball on a smaller court, making it accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. To fully enjoy and excel at pickleball, it is essential to understand and follow the rules of the game. Here are the 10 essential rules of pickleball that every player needs to know.

1. Court Dimensions: Familiarize yourself with the dimensions of the pickleball court, including the boundaries, non-volley zone, and the placement of the kitchen area.

2. Equipment: Understand the approved paddle specifications, ball requirements, and proper attire for playing pickleball.

3. Serving: Master the rules for serving, including where to serve from, the correct serving order, and the fault lines that must be followed.

4. Double Bounce Rule: Learn about the double bounce rule, which states that both teams must let the ball bounce once on each side before it can be hit out of the air.

5. Non-Volley Zone: Comprehend the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen, and the restrictions on hitting the ball while standing within its boundaries.

6. Scoring: Get acquainted with pickleball scoring, including how to earn points, when to switch sides, and how to determine the winner of the game.

7. Faults: Understand the various faults in pickleball, such as stepping into the non-volley zone during a volley or not clearing the net with your serve.

8. Let Serves: Know the rules regarding let serves, where the ball hits the net on a serve but still lands within the proper service area.

9. Out of Bounds: Recognize the boundaries of the court and the consequences of hitting the ball out of bounds.

10. Etiquette and Sportsmanship: Emphasize the importance of good sportsmanship, fair play, and respect for opponents and teammates throughout the game.

By familiarizing yourself with these essential rules of pickleball, you can confidently participate in matches, enjoy the game, and engage in competitive play while adhering to the proper guidelines and etiquette of the sport.

  • Court dimensions are an essential rule of pickleball – make sure you have the right size court to play the game properly.
  • Knowing the equipment required for pickleball is crucial – invest in the right paddle and balls for a better playing experience.
  • Understanding the serving rules is key – learn how to serve correctly to start the game off right.
  • Following the double bounce rule is important – let the ball bounce once on each side before volleys.
  • Respecting the non-volley zone is crucial – avoid stepping into this area to maintain fair play.
  • Knowing the scoring system is essential – understand how points are awarded to keep track of the game.
  • Avoiding faults is important – adhere to the rules to prevent penalties during the game.
  • Let serves are allowed in pickleball – learn how to handle a serve that touches the net.
  • Understanding out of bounds rules is necessary – know the boundaries to avoid losing points or making mistakes.
  • Pickleball etiquette and sportsmanship are vital – play with respect and fairness towards your opponents.

Rule #1: Court Dimensions

The court dimensions in pickleball are crucial for fairness and consistency. To understand the requirements, refer to the table below:

Overall Court Size: 20×44 ft
Baseline Non-Volley Zone
(Back Boundary) (Kitchen)
(Side Boundaries)
Running Length

The court dimensions in pickleball are specifically designed for a fair and enjoyable game. Players must adhere to these dimensions to ensure balanced and challenging gameplay.

Rule #2: Equipment

The paddle is the main equipment in pickleball. It is made of lightweight and durable materials like graphite or composite. The paddle should have a smooth surface without any cracks or damage that could affect play.

The paddle’s dimensions must follow the official pickleball rules. Its length should not exceed 17 inches, and its width should not exceed 7 inches. The paddle’s weight is a personal choice, but it should not go over 8.5 ounces. The paddle should have a grip that offers comfort and control during play.

Grips are usually made of materials like cushioned synthetic or perforated leather. Players must use a pickleball, which is a plastic ball with holes. The ball should have a diameter of 2.87 to 2.97 inches and weigh between 0.78 to 0.935 ounces. The ball should be in good condition without any cracks or deformities that could affect its flight or bounce.

Players should wear proper court shoes with non-marking soles to prevent damage to the playing surface. Appropriate attire should be worn, including comfortable and breathable clothing that allows for a full range of motion.

Rule #3: Serving


Rule #3: Serving

In pickleball, serving is essential. To play effectively, it is important to understand serving rules and techniques.

When serving, stand behind the baseline and within the sidelines. Hit the serve underhand and below the waist, keeping the paddle below the wrist.

For a proper serve, toss the ball in the air and hit it diagonally to the opponent’s service court. The serve must land within the service court without touching the non-volley zone lines.

Remember, the serve must be made with an underhand motion. It is not allowed to serve with an overhead motion like in tennis.

Maintain proper serving technique to avoid faults or violations. If the serve doesn’t meet the requirements, it results in a fault and the opponent receives the serve.

Rule #4: Double Bounce Rule

The Double Bounce Rule in pickleball, also known as Rule #4, ensures fair play and equal opportunities for both teams. To understand and apply this rule, follow these steps:

  1. During the serve, the serving team must let the ball bounce once before hitting it.
  2. After the serve, the receiving team must also let the ball bounce once before hitting it.
  3. Once the ball has bounced on both sides, it can be hit in the air or after one bounce.
  4. Hitting the ball before it has bounced on either side results in a fault, according to the Double Bounce Rule.
  5. If both teams successfully hit the ball after the double bounce, the rally continues until a fault occurs.

In a pickleball tournament, my partner and I played against a skilled duo. We followed the Double Bounce Rule, as stated in Rule #4, by letting the ball bounce before returning the serve. Our opponents also adhered to this rule. By following the Double Bounce Rule, we engaged in a competitive and enjoyable game of pickleball, filled with intense rallies and strategic shots.

Rule #5: Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone, also known as the NVZ, plays a central role in the dynamics of pickleball. Understanding the specifications of Rule #5 is crucial in order to excel at the game. Let’s break down the key points:

1. The non-volley zone spans a distance of 7 feet on both sides of the net, stretching backward from the net. This area is off-limits for volleys.

2. It is of utmost importance that players refrain from volleying the ball while positioned inside the non-volley zone.

3. Stepping into the non-volley zone during a shot or while attempting a volley will result in a fault.

4. After making contact with the ball, players must quickly and promptly exit the non-volley zone.

5. Players are only permitted to enter the non-volley zone once the ball has made contact with the ground, and only if they are not intending to volley it.

To adhere to these rules seamlessly, here are a few suggestions for gameplay:

1. Focus on improving your footwork and practicing shot placement to avoid inadvertently stepping into the non-volley zone.

2. It is crucial to maintain awareness of your position on the court at all times to prevent faults.

3. When approaching the perimeter of the non-volley zone, exercise caution and wait for the ball to bounce before entering.

4. Utilize strategic techniques that keep your opponents positioned closer to the non-volley zone, placing them at a disadvantage.

5. Always remember that the non-volley zone holds a fundamental role in the game, and upholding its integrity ensures fair and just play for all.

Rule #6: Scoring

Scoring in pickleball follows specific rules to determine the winner of each game. Here are the key points about

1. A game is played to 11, 15, or 21 points, based on the players’ agreement.

2. Only the serving team can score points, and points can only be scored on the serve.

3. If the serving team wins a rally, they gain a point and continue serving.

4. If the receiving team wins a rally, they do not gain a point but swap serve positions.

5. The serving team must score their points in even numbers. For example, if the serving team has 10 points, they need to win the next rally to reach 12 and win the game.

Rule #6: If the game reaches a score of 10-10, 14-14, or 20-20, it is called a “win by two” situation. The team must win by two clear points to win the game.

Pro tip: When playing a game where you must win by two points, stay focused and composed. Remember, every point matters, so stay calm and execute your shots with precision to secure the win.

Rule #7: Faults

When playing pickleball, it is important to understand Rule #7: Faults. Here are some key points to remember:

1. A fault occurs when a player fails to serve the ball into the proper service box.

2. If the serve goes out of bounds or hits the net, it is also considered a fault.

3. A fault is called if the server steps on or beyond the baseline before contacting the ball.

Let me share a true story that illustrates the importance of understanding faults in pickleball. During a competitive match, a player serving for the win made a fault by hitting the ball into the net. This mistake cost him the game, as his opponent gained the advantage and eventually won. It reminds us that even a small fault can have significant consequences in a competitive game of pickleball.

Rule #8: Let Serves


  1. When playing pickleball, follow Rule #8: Let Serves. This rule requires the receiving team to let the serve bounce once before returning it.
  2. Rule #8 ensures fair play and allows the serving team to start the point without interference.
  3. Letting the serve bounce gives both teams an equal chance to make a play and showcase their skills.
  4. Understanding and respecting this rule maintains a fair and enjoyable playing environment.
  5. Letting the serve bounce allows players to strategize and position themselves better for the return.
  6. Remember to wait for the ball to bounce before attempting to return it. Returning the serve mid-air is a fault.

True story: During a tense pickleball match, the serving team executed a perfect serve. The opponents, determined to make a quick return, forgot about Rule #8 and attempted to hit the ball before it bounced. The result was an immediate fault and a lost point. This serves as a reminder of the importance of following the rules, including the crucial Rule #8: Let Serves.

Rule #9: Out of Bounds


  • Rule #9: Out of Bounds is crucial in pickleball.
  • A ball is out of bounds if it lands outside the court boundaries.
  • Players must hit the ball within the court to keep it in play.
  • Hitting the ball out of bounds results in the opponent earning a point.
  • The court boundaries may vary depending on the facility and level of play.
  • To avoid penalties and loss of points, players should be aware of the court boundaries and strive to hit the ball within them.
  • Understanding and following Rule #9 is crucial for fair play and maintaining the game’s integrity.
  • Players must be aware of their position on the court and adjust their shots to prevent hitting the ball out of bounds.
  • Practicing accuracy and control can greatly reduce the chances of hitting the ball out of bounds.
  • Awareness of Rule #9 and honing skills will contribute to a more enjoyable and competitive game of pickleball.

Rule #10: Etiquette and Sportsmanship


Rule #10: Etiquette and Sportsmanship

Respect opponents and teammates: Treat opponents with respect and fairness, both on and off the court. Sportsmanship is crucial for a positive playing environment.

– Avoid trash talking: Refrain from negative comments or disrespectful behavior towards opponents. Stay calm and composed during the game.

– Follow the rules: Adhere to the game’s rules and regulations. Understanding and respecting the rules ensures fair play and sportsmanship.

– Acknowledge good shots: Applaud opponents’ good shots. Show appreciation for their skill and effort, regardless of the point’s outcome.

– Avoid arguing with officials or opponents: Don’t engage in arguments or disputes with officials or opponents. Accept their decisions gracefully and focus on playing your best.

– Control your emotions: Keep your emotions in check during the game. Avoid displaying frustration, anger, or excessive celebrations that disrupt the game or offend others.

– Avoid gamesmanship: Don’t use tactics like stalling, excessive timeouts, or distracting behaviors. Play the game with integrity and respect for opponents.

– Practice good court etiquette: Use appropriate language, avoid excessive noise, and be mindful of the time and space on the court. Consider the comfort of others while playing.

Did you know? Practicing good sportsmanship enhances the playing experience and fosters camaraderie and respect among players.

Some Facts About 10 Essential Rules of Pickleball You Need to Know:

  • ✅ The sport of pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton, and Ping-Pong. (Source: PaddleTek)
  • ✅ In doubles pickleball, the first serving side has only one serve, while each side thereafter has two serves. (Source: Good Housekeeping)
  • ✅ After the serve, the pickleball must bounce once on each side before it can be hit without touching the ground. (Source: Pickleball Guide)
  • ✅ Volleys are not allowed within the “kitchen,” a designated area on the court located 7 feet on either side of the net. (Source: Pickler.com)
  • ✅ Only the serving team can score points in pickleball games. (Source: Pickleball Rules Blog)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic rules of pickleball?

The basic rules of pickleball include serving the ball underhand, scoring points only for the serving team, following specific serving and fault rules, and allowing the ball to bounce once on each side before being hit.

What is the two-bounce rule in pickleball?

The two-bounce rule in pickleball states that the ball must bounce once on each side of the net before it can be hit without touching the ground. This rule ensures a fair and equal opportunity for both teams to return the ball.

What is the “no-volley” rule in pickleball?

The “no-volley” rule in pickleball, also known as the no volley zone or the kitchen, prohibits players from entering a designated area near the net and hitting the ball before it bounces. This rule prevents players from gaining an unfair advantage by volleying the ball from a close distance.

How is scoring done in pickleball?

In doubles pickleball, the serving team is the only team that can score points. The score is called out in three numbers, representing the serving team’s score, the receiving team’s score, and the server number. The game is typically played to 11 points, with a margin of 2 points required to win.

Are there any specific rules about the pickleball court?

Yes, the pickleball court must be set up properly with specific dimensions and lines. The net should be 34 inches high, and there is a designated no-volley zone called the kitchen, which is a 7-foot area on either side of the net where players cannot volley the ball.

Who are some celebrities involved in pickleball?

Celebrities like Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Leonardo DiCaprio are investors in the sport of pickleball. Their involvement has helped in raising the popularity of the sport, which has seen a 40% rise in the past two years and has over 4.8 million players nationally.

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