Pickleball is a rapidly growing sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong into a unique and exciting game. The sport is played both indoors and outdoors, and it is suitable for players of all ages and skill levels. This article will guide you through the basic rules of pickleball, helping you gain a solid foundation to start your journey into this enjoyable and competitive sport.
1. The Court and Equipment
Pickleball is played on a court that is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, which is the same size as a doubles badminton court. The court is divided into left and right service courts, as well as a 7-foot non-volley zone, commonly referred to as the "kitchen." The net is set at 36 inches on the sidelines and 34 inches in the center.
Pickleball is played to 11 points (occasionally played to 15 or 21), and a team must win by at least 2 points. Only the serving team can score points. A point is scored when the opposing team commits a fault, such as hitting the ball out of bounds, into the net, or failing to return a serve or shot.
Pro Pickleball Coach Mark Renneson explains the Scoring and Serving Rules here:
Each point begins with a serve, which is executed underhand and must be hit below the waist. The server must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball diagonally to the opponent's service court.
In doubles play, each team member gets to serve before the serve switches to the other team (also known as a "side out"). After the "side out" the first serve of each new point is made by the player on the right-hand side. The first server continue serving until the receiving team wins the rally (although the score will not change because you only score when serving). Then, the "second server" gets to serve until the receiving team wins the rally. After the second server loses their serve, the serve switches to the "first server" of the other team.
In singles play, the server alternates service courts after each point scored. You will always serve on the right serve when your score is an even number, and you will always serve on the left side when your serve is an odd number.
4. The Double Bounce Rule
After the serve, both teams must let the ball bounce once before hitting it. This is known as the "double bounce rule." Once each team has allowed the ball to bounce, players can then volley the ball (hit it out of the air without letting it bounce) or hit it after it bounces.
5. Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen)
The non-volley zone, or kitchen, is a 7-foot area on both sides of the net. Players cannot volley the ball (hit the ball out of the air) while standing in the kitchen. If a player steps into the kitchen while volleying the ball, it is considered a fault. However, players are allowed to step into the kitchen to hit the ball after it has bounced.
Mark Renneson clears up misconceptions and myths about the kitchen in this Selkirk TV Video:
Pickleball is an exciting and accessible sport that offers both recreational and competitive play for people of all ages and skill levels. By understanding the basic rules of pickleball, you'll be well on your way to enjoying this fast-growing game.
You can also sign up for our free Intro to Pickleball Course to learn drills, basic strategy, rules, and much more!
And if you are just getting started in pickleball, here are several resources where you can learn more about helpful tips and equipment to get you started in the sport!
- The Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
- 5 Common Beginner Mistakes in Pickleball
- So Now You Play Pickleball - Where To Start For Pickleball Beginners
- Subscribe to Selkirk TV's Youtube Channel - over 1,000 videos with tips from the pros, highlights, tournament recaps, lesson series, and more!