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How To Play Pickleball | The Ultimate Guide

You’ve likely seen people playing pickleball at some point in your life. Whether you are walking by a park or driving along a street, most can’t help but be curious about how you play pickleball. And based on the rapid growth across the sport, be careful because once you know how to play pickleball, you may not be able to stop.

How to Set Up Pickleball

To begin your pickleball setup, you will need to start by finding an appropriate court or open area with a hard surface. If you are playing on a court designed for pickleball, make sure that the net is 34 inches at the center and 36 inches at the posts. 

Pickleball Court

For those looking to create their temporary pickleball court, you’ll need to mark the proper court dimensions. A pickleball court is 44 feet by 20 feet in size. There are four service areas located in each corner of the rectangle court. The measurements of each service area are 10 feet by 15 feet. The non-volley zone is 7 feet deep on each side and spans the entire 20-foot length of the court. [Note: Regulation pickleball lines are 2 inches wide]

How to Score Pickleball

Scoring pickleball can seem a little overwhelming at first. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there before. Take the time to understand how to score a game of pickleball, and you’ll see the benefits the system provides. In pickleball, only the serving team can score. Pickleball is always played to a score of 11, win by two.

If you are keeping score for a singles game of pickleball, just announce the server’s score followed by the returner’s score. The serving team will always serve from the right service area when the score is even (and from the left service area when odd.)

Keeping score in pickleball doubles is made easy with a few easy tips. Remember, it is always: [Server’s Score - Returner’s Score - Serve Number]

A pickleball doubles game will begin with the second server and a score of 0-0-2. This minimizes one teams’ advantage to start the game. Each time the serving team wins a point, add one to their score. Each time the returning team wins a point, advance the serve by one. After the returning team wins a point against the second server, they become the serving side. An easy way to keep score in pickleball is to have one player from each team track the score of both teams and another player from each team track the service number. 

How to Play Pickleball

It’s time to pick up the pickleball paddles and play. So, how do you play pickleball? Pickleball is a paddle sport built around quickness, reactions, and intelligence. If you can master all three of these elements, you’re bound to be a good pickleball player.

The rules of pickleball

For starters, you’ll want to know the rules of pickleball. This knowledge will help you strategize your movements and shots around the court. Each point begins with a diagonal, underhand serve into the returning service area. The ball must bounce (but no more than once) before it may be returned across the net. The serving team must also allow the ball to bounce before they can send it back over. This is known as the “two bounce rule.” Once both bounces have taken place and assuming no fault has occurred, players/teams are free to hit a volley or the ball off one hop until the conclusion of the rally. 

Players may not step into the “kitchen” or non-volley zone unless the ball bounces. If they do, prior to the ball bouncing, or after they hit a volley, the point is won by the opposing team. Stepping in the non-volley zone is one of pickleball’s many faults. When a fault occurs, the opposing team wins the point. The following are faults in pickleball:

  • The ball hits the net or is hit out of bounds
  • The serve does not land within the correct receiving court
  • If the ball is hit out of the air before it bounces once on each side of the court after the serve
  • If the ball is hit out of the air while the player is in the kitchen
  • If the ball bounces twice on either side of the court
  • If any part of the player touches the net or post when the ball is in play
  • If the ball strikes a player

Pro Tip - Get To The Kitchen ASAP

As previously mentioned, all pickleball games are played to 11, win by two. If you are interested in learning more about the intricacies of pickleball, read our breakdown about what pickleball is all about.

Whether you are new to pickleball or a seasoned player, we are excited to have you at JustPaddles. Our goal is to spread knowledge and information about the sport we love. We love pickleball so much that we made it into our business. If you’re ever in the market to buy a new pickleball paddle, be sure to look us up. We’re JustPaddles, and we’re with you from Click to Court!


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