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Pickleball Terminology & Glossary

Pickleball Terms image

If you have been to a pickleball court you may have heard some unique terms. We have compiled a list of terms used at pickleball courts across the country for you! From slang, court positioning to the equipment we have assembled a list for new pickleball players wanting to understand the game or experienced players updating their lingo. Have a term that we missed? Let us know, as pickleball grows so does the lingo!



An ace is a serve that is not returned by your opponent.

Approach Shot

The pickleball is struck while moving forward, towards the net.



The area near the baseline.


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.


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.


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


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

Bounce It

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




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


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


Dead Ball

Called after a fault, the point is over.

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

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. 


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

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.



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


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


 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.


 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.

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.


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



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


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


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


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”.



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.



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.


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.



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


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”.


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!


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



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


A shortened, slang name for paddle. 


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


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


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


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.



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



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.


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.


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.


The lateral border of the pickleball court.


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


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


A shot used to create a backspin on the pickleball.


An overhead shot that is hit with lots of power.


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


Third Shot Drop

The third shot of a game that 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



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.


Looking for the perfect pickleball paddle? There are hundreds of paddles on the market, which is why we have an entire page dedicated to Pickleball Paddle Reviews! If you need more information, give us a call at 1-866-382-3465, email us (, or utilize our LIVE CHAT to speak with a Paddle Expert today. We’re JustPaddles, and we’re with you from Click to Court!

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