What is Pickleball?
A Quick Breakdown:
Pickleball is a paddle sport that takes aspects from tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It is played with a paddle, a hard plastic ball with holes, and a net. Various rules for the game help make it so all ages and genders can be competitive against one another. People love pickleball because it is great physical exercise, requires strategy, and is very social. The game is fairly inexpensive compared to other sports, as paddles can be found for less than $100 and most courts are free to play on.
What Are the Rules of Pickleball?
The game of Pickleball is pretty simple: each game begins with a diagonal serve from the right-hand service square then players continue by alternating with each following serve. All serves must be performed below the waist in an underhand manner while keeping both feet behind the backline. The ball must travel in the air, over the net, and into the appropriate diagonal service square. If this doesn't happen, it will result in loss of serve. If the ball hits the net and lands in the correct service square, the play can continue.
- When it's your teams' turn to serve in pickleball doubles, the player on the right side of the court will always be the first to serve.
Your score will dictate the side of the court you serve from.
- An even score will serve from the right side.
- An odd score will serve from the left side.
- More about Doubles in Pickleball
What is the History of Pickleball?
Pickleball was created back in 1965 by three fathers looking for a new way to entertain their families. They had initially set out to play badminton, but they improvised with paddles and a plastic ball after being unable to locate the necessary equipment. The net was quickly lowered from the 60-inch height used for badminton to the 36-inch height still used in pickleball today.
The following weekend they wrote the pickleball rules, and the first official court was erected two years later in one of the founder's backyards. By 1990, pickleball was being played in all 50 states. Today, pickleball is enjoyed by over 4 million people in the United States annually.
How Do You Play Pickleball?
How To Serve
- Must be performed underhand, and the ball must be struck below the waist.
- At least one foot must be behind the baseline, and neither foot may contact the baseline or court until the ball is struck.
- The serve must go diagonally crosscourt, fly past the non-volley zone line, and land within the opposite service court.
- Only one attempt on the serve is allowed. If the ball touches the net and lands in the correct service court, you play on. There is no let rule.
Pickleball Serve Order
- If playing doubles, both players on the doubles team get to serve and score points until they commit a fault (unless it is the first serve of the game).
- If it is the very first serve of the game, only one partner on the serving team gets to serve the ball.
- One fault from the opening serving team results in the serve being passed to the opposing team (after that both players get their chance to serve).
- The first serve by any team member is always made from the right hand side of the court.
- If a point is scored, the players on the serving team switch sides and the next serve comes from the left hand side of the court.
- Every point scored by the server requires them and their partner to keep switching back and forth until a fault occurs.
- Once the fault is committed the first server loses the serve and then the partner serves and they repeat the sequence.
- Once the second server commits a fault, the serve goes to the other team.
- When the other team takes the serve, the first serve is from the right hand side of the court.
- Both players on that team repeat the serving until each server has committed a fault.
- For singles players, the server serves from the right hand side of the court when the score is even and from the left hand side of the court when the score is odd.
- You can only score points when you are on the serving team.
- Games are typically played to 11 or 15, and in some situations 21. It's most common that games are played to 11 points.
- You must win by 2.
- The team’s first server will be in the right hand box when their score is even for receiving and serving.
- That player will be in the left hand box when their score is odd.
- The receiving team must let the ball bounce before they can return the serve.
- The serving team then has to let the return shot bounce on their side of the court before returning the shot.
- Once the ball has bounced once on each side of the court, both teams can return the remaining shots out of the air or after it bounces.
- This rule was implemented to eliminate the serve and volley advantage, and make for better rallies.
Non-Volley Zone (The Kitchen)
- Commonly referred to as the kitchen, it is the 7 foot area in front of the net on both sides of the court.
- It is against the rules to hit the ball out of the air while standing in the kitchen or on the kitchen line. You may strike the ball in the air as it floats above the kitchen line, as long as you are standing completely behind the kitchen line.
- It is considered a fault if a player steps into the kitchen or has a foot on the line to volley the ball. However, if a shot lands in the non-volley zone, the player is allowed to step in the NVZ to retrieve the ball.
- It is also considered a fault if a player’s momentum carries them into or touches the kitchen line.
- A player may be in the kitchen any time other than when they are volleying the ball.
- A ball striking any part of any line, (except the kitchen line on a serve) is considered a good shot
- A serve that contacts the kitchen line at all is considered short and is a fault
- A fault is any play that ends because of a violation of rules.
- If the receiving team makes the fault, it results in a point for the serving team.
- If the serving team commits the fault, it results in that player losing the serve.
- If a second fault is committed by the serving team, the serve transfers to the other team.
List Of Faults
- The ball hits the net and does not land inside the opposing court 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.
Who Serves First In Pickleball?
- Any fair method to determine the first serving team can be used (Example-Rock/Paper/Scissors). Some courts determine the first server by which team is on what side of the court (Example: North side always serves first).
Where Do You Play Pickleball?
Pickleball is a year-round sport that can be played both indoors and outdoors. Pickleball courts have smaller dimensions than tennis courts and are 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. A tennis net is often used to split the two sides of the court that is 36" tall and droops to 34" in the center. It also makes for a great barrier to stop any loose pickleballs! As the sport continues to grow, you will see more and more tennis courts being repurposed into pickleball courts. At the very least, many tennis courts get dual lines that support both pickleball and tennis. There is no better time than now to grab a paddle and get involved in pickleball. Be forewarned, because there is no guarantee that you won't become hooked after one time of playing!
How Do You Buy A Pickleball Paddle?
Choosing a pickleball paddle can be an intimidating process. With all the options of size, shape, hitting surface and core material, grip size, etc., it can be hard to figure out what the differences are and which paddle is right for you. That’s why we’ve created thev blog articles below to help you choose the right paddle.
- Best Youth Pickleball Paddles
- Best Pickleball Paddle for Spin
- Best Quiet Pickleball Paddle
- Best Pickleball Paddle for Control
- Best Pickleball Paddle for Beginners
- Best Pickleball Paddle for Power
Shop All Pickleball Paddles
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!