How to play pickleball – 9 simple rules for beginners

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Able to learn how to play pickleball? You are not alone. it is the quickest rising sport in America, andnd it is tons of enjoyable.

Whether or not you are an absolute newbie, or a seasoned participant trying to refresh their grip on the sport, we have you lined with our fast information.

Simply comply with these 9 easy guidelines and you will be out taking part in very quickly.

What you might want to play pickleball

Earlier than you begin, you may want:

  1. Some pickleball paddles
  2. A native pickleball courtroom
  3. Pickleball footwear, or a snug pair of trainers
  4. Pickleball balls to play with

Learn how to play pickleball: the courtroom setup

Pickleball is performed on a badminton-sized courtroom (20′ x 44′):

how to play pickleball

The net is 36 inches excessive on the sideline, and 34 inches on the heart. Pickleball is most frequently performed as doubles with 4 gamers, two on every group (although singles is feasible as nicely). Every participant stands to the fitting and left of the centerline.

You’ll be able to hit two sorts of photographs:

  • Groundstrokes: hit off the bounce, typically from the baseline
  • Volleys: hit out of the air from a place nearer to the online

Either side has a 7 ft space known as the Non-Volley Zone, or “Kitchen”, the place no participant can hit volleys from. Not even a toe can contact the kitchen line throughout a volley (extra on that later).

Now that we’ve got the courtroom arrange, let’s get taking part in!

Rule #1: every level begins with a serve

The pickleball sport – and every level – begins with the serve. The participant on the fitting aspect of the courtroom, going through their opponents, begins the serve. You serve diagonally to your opponent, into the fitting or left service space:

how to play pickleball

The serve must clear the “Kitchen” (including the line) to count.

Rule #2: your serve have to be underhand

how to play pickleball rule 2

A pickleball serve have to be hit with an underhand stroke with contact under the waist. Your arm should transfer in an upward arc once you strike the ball.

You’ll be able to hit the ball out of the air (as most gamers do). Or you possibly can drop the ball on the bottom and hit.

The objective of the pickleball serve is to place the ball in play. That is fairly totally different than a tennis serve, the place the objective is to serve overhand aggressively to win the purpose.

Right here’s a fast primer from Wayne Dollard of Stage Up Pickleball Camps on tips on how to serve:

Rule #3: every level continues till a fault

After the serve, gameplay continues till a “fault” is dedicated. A fault ends some extent.

In pickleball, there are mainly 3 sorts of faults:

  1. The serve doesn’t clear the kitchen (together with the road)
  2. A shot is hit out of bounds – touchdown behind the baseline or outdoors the sideline
  3. A shot is hit into the internet

Word there isn’t a “let” in pickleball – which means if a serve hits the online, there’s no redo. The ball is performed because it lands.

We’ll additionally cowl 2 extra superior faults later in our guidelines.

Rule #4: you possibly can’t volley within the kitchen

The 7 ft zone on all sides marks the “non-volley zone,” or kitchen.

This implies you possibly can by no means hit a volley—which is a shot hit out of the air—whereas having any a part of your physique within the Kitchen. And even on the Kitchen line. And you may’t let your momentum carry you into the kitchen after a volley both.


Why this rule? When you play, you’ll see gamers on the internet have a massive benefit. They will hit any ball excessive sufficient with a downward “smash.” This shot places opponents proper on the defensive.

Pickleball’s inventors discovered standing proper on the web made volleying too straightforward. It was an unfair benefit and took the enjoyable away (for the defenders that’s!). And so the “Kitchen” was born.

Rule #5: you possibly can hit groundstrokes within the kitchen

In case your opponent hits a brief shot touchdown within the kitchen, what’s known as a dink, you can enter and hit from the kitchen.

Dinks are a defensive shot, and probably the most necessary elements of pickleball technique. Typically your finest transfer after transferring into the kitchen to subject a dink is to dink proper again to your opponent’s kitchen.

Rule #6: the ball should bounce on either side earlier than both group Can volley

Earlier than any participant can hit a shot out of the air (a volley), the ball should bounce a minimum of as soon as on all sides. This implies in case your associate is serving, and also you begin up on the kitchen, you’re in a harmful place…

Why? As a result of the returning group can hit a shot proper at you, and in the event you react with a volley, that’s a fault. You lose the purpose.

How to play pickleball

This rule retains the serving group again on the baseline to begin. With out it, the serving group may simply rush the online and achieve an unfair edge each time. The return group would wrestle to ever regain the serve and get factors, as we’ll cowl in our subsequent rule.

Rule #7: You solely win factors in your serve

In Pickleball, you solely win factors in your serve, and also you proceed serving till you lose some extent. After successful every level in your serve, you turn sides together with your associate and serve to the opposite opponent.

What occurs in the event you lose the purpose in your serve? We’ll cowl that under in Rule #8:

Rule #8: Each companions serve in a flip

In every flip, each gamers (in doubles) get the chance to serve. And in pickleball scoring, you’ll hear gamers announce three numbers, “Zero, zero… two.

What the heck is that third quantity? It tracks which of the 2 gamers on a group has the serve.

Let’s say the sport is tied at 3-3. If you happen to begin the serve (from the fitting aspect keep in mind), you’ll announce “3-3-1,” so everybody is aware of you’re the first participant in rotation serving.

If you happen to lose the purpose, the ball doesn’t go to your opponents. It goes to your teammate who will announce “3-3-2.”

Then in the event you’re associate loses their serve, the ball goes again to your opponents who will announce, once more, “3-3-1.” And your group will now have win factors on each opponent’s serves to get the ball again.

Ah and one exception to this rule… The primary participant to serve within the sport calls out “0-0-2.” That is so the beginning group solely will get one serve. If each gamers served to begin, the serving group would achieve an unfair benefit over the returning group.

Confused but? We promise it’s straightforward when you begin taking part in!

Rule #9: First group to 11 factors wins—however you need to win by 2

Following all the principles above, the sport continues till one group will get 11 factors. The catch? It’s a must to win by 2.

So if a sport’s tied 10-10, the subsequent rating doesn’t win. The sport continues previous 11-10. This rule can have video games on for a lengthy time. You’ll be able to have ending scores of 12-10, 15-13, and even 21-19. However these are sometimes essentially the most enjoyable video games!

Learn how to begin a pickleball recreation

The pickleball recreation all the time begins with a serve.

Pickleball Gamers Starting the Pickleball Game with a Serve

Who serves first? In response to the USA Pickleball Affiliation Rulebook, “any honest methodology shall be used to find out which participant or workforce has the primary alternative of serve.” You may flip a coin. We’ve seen some native courts dictate the north facet all the time serves first. So you’ll be able to ask a neighborhood or provide you with your individual manner.

As soon as the serving facet is decided, the participant on the proper facet of the courtroom goes first.

They announce the beginning rating, which is all the time “0-0-2.” Every workforce begins with 0 factors. The “two” signifies the beginning workforce serves at place 2. Which means they solely get one serve on the primary rotation (that is to stop an unfair benefit). The server then serves underhanded to the diagonal facet. If the serve is “in,” gameplay continues.

See extra: How Pickleball Scoring Works.

So to recap that’s:

  • Decide the primary serving facet by native guidelines or coin toss
  • Participant on the suitable facet of the courtroom serves first
  • They announce “0-0-2” because the beginning rating
  • Participant serves underhanded (out of the air or off the bounce) to the diagonal facet
  • If the serve is “good,” past the kitchen line however contained in the baseline and sidelines, the primary level continues

Learn how to play pickleball singles

Doubles is the preferred technique to play pickleball. However are you able to play singles? Sure!

Taking part in singles pickleball works similar to doubles. Besides you’ve gotten simply 1 participant on either side.

Pickleball Player Playing for a Singles Game

The main distinction is within the scoring – there’s no must name out the third quantity. The server calls out solely two numbers – the server’s rating (first), then the opponent’s rating (second).

Right here’s a scoring overview for pickleball singles:

5 Key Pickleball Single Scoring Rules

There’s no second server—so if you happen to lose the purpose in your serve, it goes straight to your opponent.

How have you learnt which facet of the courtroom to serve from in pickleball singles? In singles, the serve is all the time taken from the proper facet of the courtroom when the server has a good number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 factors). When the server has an odd variety of factors (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), the serve is taken from the left facet.

Pickleball Singles Serve Positioning Graphic

It’s solely the server’s rating that determines which facet to serve from – not the mixed rating of server and receiver. All different pickleball guidelines on serving, faults, line name, and the Non-Volley Zone, or Kitchen, are precisely the identical in singles as in doubles.

Take a look at this text from The Pickler for extra on learn how to play pickleball singles and discover successful singles methods.

Learn how to play pickleball doubles

Doubles is by far the preferred technique to play pickleball. In doubles, two gamers are on every workforce and share a facet collectively. Every participant has the prospect to serve. The scoring is known as out as:

How to Play Pickleball Doubles

The serve quantity signifies which server on the workforce has the serve. Let’s say you’ve gotten 3 factors, your opponent has 2, and also you’re beginning the serve.

You name out “3-2-1” after which serve.

In case you lose the purpose, the serve will transfer to your accomplice, who will announce “3-2-2.”

Now all gamers know that in case your workforce loses one other level, you hand over the serve to your opponents. That is known as a “facet out.”

The place to face throughout pickleball doubles

Starting Player Positioning for Pickleball Doubles

In pickleball, the ball should bounce as soon as on either side earlier than any participant can volley (hit out of the air). This implies in case your accomplice is serving, you’ll stand again on the baseline. In case you began on the kitchen, your opponent may hit a line drive return to you and if you happen to volley, that’s a fault.

However how about returning? In case your opponent is serving to you, you’ll wish to stand behind the baseline to hit the return. But when the serve goes to your accomplice, your greatest place is correct up on the kitchen – able to volley. It’s because the serve will bounce as soon as in your facet, your accomplice will hit the return, and then you definitely’ll be clear to volley.

In pickleball, your greatest odds are enjoying up on the kitchen. Your accomplice ought to hit their return and instantly be a part of you on the kitchen. Do that – and also you’ll have the serving workforce on the defensive each time.

How pickleball scoring works

Scoring may be complicated, particularly for pickleball inexperienced persons. The pickleball rating consists of three numbers:

How Pickleball Scoring Works

The primary quantity is your workforce’s rating. The second quantity is your opponent’s rating. And the third quantity – the customarily complicated one – signifies who’s serve it’s. It is going to all the time be a 1 or 2. In pickleball doubles, every participant on a workforce will get the chance to serve.

So it’s essential to know which participant is serving. And since you swap sides after every level you win, you’ll be able to’t depend on your courtroom place to recollect who’s serve it’s.

Let’s say you’re serving. Your workforce has 2 factors, and your opponent has 1. In case you’re the primary one serving, you’ll announce: “2-1-1”

In case your workforce loses the purpose, the serve will go to your accomplice, who will announce “2-1-2.” Now all gamers know that in case your workforce loses the following level, the serve will go to your opponents. That is known as a side-out. And because you solely win factors in your serve, your opponent will announce the identical rating you probably did: “2-1-1.”

The one exception to this rule? On the very first serve of the sport, the rating begins: “0-0-2.” This implies the beginning serve workforce solely will get one serve. This rule ensures the serving workforce doesn’t get an unfair benefit.

Simply bear in mind to name out:

  • Your rating
  • Your opponent’s rating
  • Your serve place – both 1 or 2

After just a few video games, you’ll get the dangle of it!

Learn how to serve in pickleball

Each level in pickleball begins with the serve. Not like tennis, the aim of the serve in pickleball is to place the ball in play. It’s not an offensive weapon.

In response to USA Pickleball Official Guidelines:

  • The serve should be hit with an underhand stroke in order that contact with the ball is made beneath the waist
  • The arm should be transferring in an upward arc and the best level of the paddle head shall be beneath the wrist when it strikes the ball.
  • The best level of the paddle head can’t be above any a part of the road shaped the place the wrist joint bends.

Primarily the pickleball serve is an underhand serve that finishes with an upwards movement:

Pickleball Legal Serve Example

You may be taught the fundamentals on this video from Pickleball 411:

The pickleball serve is usually hit out of the air. In January 2021, the USA Pickleball Affiliation up to date the principles to permit for a “drop serve.” This implies now you can drop the ball and hit your serve off the bounce if you happen to desire.

The place to serve in pickleball

In pickleball, you all the time serve to the diagonally reverse service courtroom.

Pickleball Games, Always Serves to the Diagonally Opposite of the Court

Your serve should utterly clear the kitchen line, and land between the sideline and baseline to depend. “On the road” for the baseline and sideline is nice (however not on the kitchen line).

The place to face when serving

You could stand behind the baseline when serving in pickleball. Your foot can’t contact or move the road throughout your serve.

It’s best to stay behind the baseline till after a 3rd shot is hit. In case you have been to run as much as the kitchen after serving, you’d threat violating the double bounce rule.

Serving methods

Whereas the aim of the pickleball serve is to put the ball in play, you can use it to your benefit.

Pickleball Player Serving Strategy

Listed below are 3 methods for bettering your pickleball serve:

  • Serve deep. Your opponent will seemingly return your serve and cost the kitchen. This places you on the defensive. The deeper you serve, the extra you’ll be able to put them on the defensive.
  • Maintain it low. Low photographs make it tougher in your opponent to hit an aggressive shot again.
  • Add spin. By altering the angle of your wrist in your serve follow-through, you’ll be able to put every kind of spins in your serve. An surprising spin can throw your opponents off guard, and trigger unforced errors on the return.

What’s the double bounce rule in pickleball?

Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball Game

The double bounce rule states the ball should bounce a minimum of as soon as on either side earlier than any participant can volley the ball out of the air.

Let’s say you’re serving in a doubles recreation. You serve your opponent. That’s one bounce. In case your accomplice was standing up on the kitchen and your opponent hit a shot in direction of them, they may not hit it out of the air. Your workforce should permit the return shot to hit in your facet to fulfill the double-bounce rule.

That is why though you’ll be able to stand wherever in pickleball, it is senseless to begin up on the kitchen in your workforce’s serve.

The one participant that sometimes begins on the kitchen is the participant not receiving the serve on the return workforce. It’s because the ball will all the time have bounced twice earlier than ever being hit by this participant.

After the ball has bounced on either side, all gamers are free to maneuver to the kitchen space and start volleying – which is essentially the most strategic place to be in pickleball.

Why the double bounce rule? It was created to stop the serving workforce from gaining an unfair benefit.

To summarize:

  • Ball is served
  • Return workforce should let serve bounce
  • Serving workforce should let return bounce
  • The ball has bounced twice, any participant could hit a volley till a degree is received

Study to play pickleball close to you

A Beginner Learning to Play Pickleball

The easiest way to be taught pickleball? Exit and play!

Pickleball has change into America’s quickest rising sport for a cause… it’s very easy to choose up!

Listed below are 3 nice methods to seek out courts close to you so you’ll be able to follow the whole lot you’ve discovered on this article:

Use our Pickleball Courtroom Finder

Our Pickleheads Courtroom Finder is the simplest technique to discover a courtroom close to you.

Set your location and you’ll browse on a map from over 6,000 pickleball courts. See which courts have strains, if it’s essential to carry your individual internet, hours of operation, facilities, and extra.

Simply bear in mind our courtroom finder just isn’t a reservation system, so all the time examine together with your native courtroom’s guidelines. You might must pay a small charge or wait to play if the courts are busy.

Discover pickleball courts close to you

Verify your native parks

Parks & recreation facilities handle pickleball courts everywhere in the nation. And new ones are being added on a regular basis. Typically these courts are free to play, however all the time examine to see if it’s essential to make a reservation or pay a charge.

Go to tennis facilities

Visit Tennis Center for Pickleball Sessions

Many tennis facilities are including pickleball, both by constructing new courts or outfitting present tennis courts with strains for pickleball. Verify to see if they’ve open play classes devoted to pickleball. And all the time ask if it’s essential to carry your individual internet! Persons are even constructing pickleball courts within the yard if you happen to’re so fortunate to fulfill such a pal.

Backside line

Pickleball Players Showing Sportmanship after the game

Pickleball is a straightforward and enjoyable recreation to learn to play. Simply bear in mind:

  • Each level begins with the serve
  • You serve underhand
  • Play till a fault
  • Keep out of the kitchen (except it is a dink)
  • Ball should bounce as soon as on either side (earlier than you volley)
  • You solely win factors in your serve
  • Each gamers serve (except you are first to serve)
  • You win at 11

And that’s it – now get on the market and play!

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