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03/14/2024

Pickleball Terms & Definitions Explained By Experts

Pickleball Terms

If you have been to a pickleball court, you may have heard some unique pickleball terms. The Paddle Experts at JustPaddles have compiled a list of pickleball terms used at courts across the country for you! Everything from slang, court positioning, and equipment such as pickleball paddles, this list is for new pickleball players wanting to understand the game or experienced players who want to update their lingo. Any pickleball terms that we missed? Let us know! You can call or text 866-382-3465, email experts@justpaddles.com, or you can click here to live chat.

As pickleball grows so does the lingo. Let's go. 

A

Ace

An ace is a serve that your opponent does not return.

Approach Shot

The pickleball is struck while moving forward toward the net.

Around the Post

An Around the Post, also known as an ATP, is a shot that does exactly what its name describes. Instead of the ball going over the net like a traditional shot, this shot is hit from outside the sidelines, travels around the post that holds the net, and lands inbounds.

B

Backcourt

The area near the baseline.

Backhand

A backhand stroke is made on your non-dominant side. You know it’s a backhand hit when the back of your hand is facing the net as you hit the ball.

Backspin

Applying spin to the pickleball by making contact with a high-to-low motion causing the ball to spin in the opposite direction of its flight direction. Often referred to as a slice or chop.  

Backswing

When your pickleball paddle is swinging from the ready position before following thru to the forward swing.

Banger

In order to overpower opponents, this player likes to hit hard shots.

Baseline

Line at the back ends of the court.

Bert

When you hit an erne on the other side of the court in front of your partner. 

Blast Off

When the server shouts the score of 3-2-1, yell "Blast Off'' for good laughs and an automatic point (just kidding).

Body Bag

When you forcefully hit your opponent with a pickleball, most commonly in the chest.

Bounce It

Often shouted at their partner to alert them that they believe the ball is going to land out of bounds.

C

Carry 

When a pickleball shot does not bounce directly off the pickleball paddle, instead it is carried along the face throughout your shot.

Centerline

The line between the Non-Volley Zone, and base line to divide the court in equal halves

Champion Shot

A shot that bounces twice in the non-volley zone.

Chop

Slice from high to low to put backspin on the ball

Cross-Court

The court is diagonally opposite your court. When serving, you must hit the ball cross-court to your opponent.

D

Dead Ball

Called after a fault, the point is over.

Dig

A defensive shot with your paddle low, a wide stance, and absorbing the power of an offensive shot to make it “unattackable.”

Dillball

A shot that is inbounds and bounces once. A live ball.

Dink Shot

A dink shot is a soft and controlled shot that is intended to move downward shortly after it clears the net, landing in the no-volley zone or kitchen. (ideally at your opponent's feet).

Pro tip: slowing down the game with a dink is a great tool that every player should have in their bag of shots

Dinner

A dink winner. 

Double-Bounce Rule

The double-bounce rule dictates that when the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce once before returning, and then the serving team must let it bounce once before returning. ( two bounces.

Double Bounce

A pickleball bounces twice on one side of the court. A double bounce is a fault. 

Doubles Pickleball

Pickleball game played with 4 players, two on each team. Doubles can be plated in men, women, and mixed.

Double Hit

When the ball hits a player’s paddle twice before going over the net. If a double hit is the result of one continuous motion (meaning, without a second swing or push), it is technically a legal hit

Down the Line

A pickleball shot that travels parrel to the sideline, landing just in bounds

Drive

Forehand shot hit straight and low into the opposing backcourt.

Drop Shot

 A groundstroke shot that falls short of the opponent’s position

Drop Spin

A pickleball shot that is sliced or has backspin shortly after crossing the net. This is a very advanced shot.

E

Erne

When a player lunges over the corner of the kitchen out of bounds to get closer to the net and smash the ball without breaking the rule of placing your feet in the non-volley zone before the ball hits the ground. 

F

Face

The area of the pickleball paddle that you make contact with the pickleball. Check out our breakdown of pickleball paddle material HERE!

Falafel

A short shot due to hitting the pickleball with little to no power often falls much short of the net. 

Fault

 A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation. A fault by the receiving team results in a point for the serving team; a fault by the serving team results in the server’s loss of serve or a side out.

Flapjack

 A midair pickleball shot that you are not able to hit, due to the pickleball not having bounced once on each side of the court.

Flat Face

When a player keeps their pickleball paddle parallel to the net.

Flick Shot

A shot where the paddle is flicked downwards as you hit a ball that would otherwise barely lay in the kitchen and be hard to hit with power or speed.

Follow Through

While swinging your pickleball paddle, the forward motion towards where you are wanting the pickleball to go.

Foot Fault

While serving a player makes contact with the baseline before making contact with the pickleball. A Non-Volley Zone Foot Fault is when a player touches the kitchen or non-volley zone during play. Both of these result in a point for the opposing team/player.

Forehand

A forehand stroke is made with your dominant forearm is facing forward. This is typically the most comfortable and natural stroke.

G

Game

A series of points in which a team accumulates 11 points. Some games are played to 15 or 21. 

Golden Pickle

A variant of "getting pickled," or losing a game with no points scored.  What the other team metaphorically earns when they beat you using only their first server, going from 0-0-2 to 11-0-2 without losing a point.

Grip

How a player holds their pickleball paddle or the material wrapped around the handle to provide comfort and protect the pickleball paddle.

Groundstroke

A groundstroke is made just after the ball bounces off the ground.

H

Half Volley

A half volley is a groundstroke shot where the paddle contacts the ball immediately after it bounces from the court and before the ball rises to its potential height. Some refer to this as a “short hop”.

Head

Part of the pickleball paddle above the handle that includes the face.

Hinder

Any element or occurrence that interferes with play. 

K

Kitchen

Slang term for the Non-Volley Zone. The 7-foot section on both sides of the net, in which a player cannot enter or touch unless the pickleball enters the kitchen.

L

Layout

When a player throws their body horizontally to return a zinger.

Let

A let is a serve that hits the net and lands in the proper service court. Let serves used to be replayed, but in sanctioned tournaments play continues.

Line Calls

Verbally said or shouted indicated that the shot was inbounds or out of bounds. Another way to show to the opposing team is index finger up means that the shot was out, and a parrel flat hand means that the shot was inbounds.

Lob

A lob is a shot that returns the ball as high and deep as possible attempting to make it over the opposing side’s reach. This forces a tough shot from the backline. While many use the lob, it can be difficult to not leave it up for a slam for the opposing team.

M

Midcourt

The area between the Non-Volley Zone and the baseline. 

N

Nasty Nelson

While serving, you try to catch the opposing team off guard, aiming to hit your opponent that is not set to receive the serve.

Non-Volley Zone

The 7 feet area on both sides of the net. Players are not allowed to enter the Non-Volley Zone unless a pickleball is bounced within the zone. This is widely referred to as the “Kitchen.”

O

Overhead Shot

Any pickleball shot that is started above your head and driven downwards.

Overhead Slam

A powerful overhead shot hit downward, often from lobs left short or high bounces. Great to follow with a fist pump!

OPA!

It can be heard at some courts after the 3rd shot has been hit, signaling that a volley has begun

Open Face

Holding the pickleball paddle with the face tilted upwards.

P

Paddle

The most important piece of equipment in pickleball. Check out our large selection of pickleball paddles at www.JustPaddles.com!

Paddy

A shortened, slang name for a pickleball paddle

Painting the Line

A great line shot that lands right on the line.

Passing Shot

A volley aimed at a distance from the player to prevent a return. 

Permanent Object

Any object around the pickleball court that may interfere with the flight of the ball. Includes walls, fences, fixtures, the referee, seating, and any other object around or above the court.

Pickle!

Warning shouted by the player serving to alert opposing players the server is soon to serve.

Pickled

Equivalent to being “skunked” in other sports, scoring zero points in a game. The score would be 11-0. 

Pickledome

The court where the championship match in a pickleball tournament is played. 

Pickler 

A pickleball addict, someone who can’t put the pickleball paddle down!

Poach

In doubles, when a player crosses over to their partner’s side to hit a shot.

Put Away 

A shot that doesn’t have a chance to be returned. The opposing team can barely put a paddle on the pickleball.

Punch Shot

A quick, short volley shot with a short backswing and follow through.

R

Rally

is a continuous play that occurs after the serve and before a fault.

Rally Score System

The side that wins the rally wins the point and the right to serve.

Ready Position

Ideal position to receive the ball for return. Paddle is in front of the player’s body at chest height with a neutral grip. Weight is evenly balanced on toes and knees are slightly bent. 

Receiver

The player diagonally opposite of the server who will return the serve.

Replays

After any discrepancy, the point can be replayed without awarding the point or a side out.

Reset

To stop a rally to bring it into the kitchen for dinking

S

Side-Out

A side out is declared after one side loses its service and the other side is awarded service.

Second Serve

The second serve by one team after having faulted on their first serve.

Serve

An underhand stroke used to put the pickleball into play. A serve must be made contact with the pickleball under the waist of the player.

Serve Number

Shouted before serving, to show which server the player is, followed by the score. 

Service Court

The area on either side of the centerline. All lines are included in the service court, besides the non-volley zone.

Service Out Side Scoring

The current pickleball service system that indicates you need to be serving to score points.

Shadowing

A strategy used in doubles pickleball to work together as a team. In shadowing the players will move in synch to approach the net and to retreat. Imagine a rope is tied to your partner, so if one moves, the other has to move.

Sideline

The lateral border of the pickleball court.

Side-Out 

When one side (team) loses its service and the other side is awarded service.

Singles 

Playing pickleball with 2 players. One on each side of the court, one on one! 

Slice 

A shot used to create a backspin on the pickleball.

Smash

An overhead shot that is hit with lots of power.

Split Step

A stance with a slight bounce to allow for a quick reaction. 

Stacking

A strategy in which two players are on the same side of the court before the serve or return, and then transition to separate sides after.

Stroke

Swinging motion of striking the pickleball. Examples are backhand stroke and forehand stroke.

T

Technical Foul

In tournament play, a referee may add a point to a teams score when their opponent violates one of the rules calling for a technical foul, outside of standard faults of play. Such as foul language and unsportsmanlike play.

Third Shot Drop

The third shot of a game typically happens near the baseline and is returned so that it lands perfectly in your opponent’s kitchen.

Top Spin

Applying spin to the pickleball creating a downward spin on the pickleball.

Transition Zone

An area between the baseline and the non-volley zone.

Truck Driver

Your opponent asks "What's the score"? You tell them it's ''truck driver'',  the score is 10-4. 

Two Bounce Rule

After the ball is served the returning team must allow the ball to bounce one time before returning, and the serving team must allow the return to bounce one time before beginning a volley. 

U

Unattackable Ball

A drop shot, dink, or reset show that doesn’t bounce high enough to be attacked and returned. The bounce height is below the top of the net. 

V

Volley

A shot that is hit in the air, during a rally, before the ball has hit the ground. 

Volley Llama

 An illegal shot, where the pickleball player hits a volley shot in the non-volley zone.

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