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How to Play Pickleball

We are going to go over the basics of what you need to know to begin playing the game of Pickleball. If you have no clue what pickleball is, do not fret, just visit our what is pickleball page that is dedicated to informing people about this life changing sport. If you DO know what pickleball is and are wanting to know how to play, you are in the right place! We encourage you on watching our videos that explain everything you need to know to get started playing pickleball.

Intro & Definitions

Before we get right into the gameplay of pickleball we are going to go over some of the components of a pickleball court that are essential to learning and understanding how the game is played.

Service Courts: These big squares on the courts, are called service courts. There are two right service courts, one on each side, as well as two left service courts, again, one on each side.
CenterLine: The centerlines are the lines that divide the service courts that are on the same side as one another.
Non-Volley Zones: The Non-volley zone, also known as the “kitchen” is the area of the court extending from either side of the net, until it reaches a service court. The line that separates the Non-volley zone with the service courts is called the Non-volley line, or the kitchen line.
Sidelines: The sidelines are the long lines that stretch from end to end along the length of the court
Baselines: And the baselines are the lines that contain the depth of the court.

Hover over the court below to help better learn the parts of a pickleball court!

7 ft Sideline 44 ft 44 ft Sideline 10 ft Baseline 20 ft Baseline 20 ft 10 ft 10 ft 10 ft 7 ft Non-Volley Zone Non-Volley Line Centerline Centerline Non-Volley Zone Non-Volley Line Left ServiceCourt Left ServiceCourt Right ServiceCourt Right ServiceCourt

Serving & Scoring

When starting Pickleball, there is no official way to decide which side goes first, but a common way to decide is either a coin toss or picking a side that always goes first, like the north or the east side. Whichever team is serving is known as the serving team, while the other team is known as the receiving team. One of the unique things about Pickleball is how the score is kept. This is often the most confusing part to someone who is just learning how to play. When keeping score, you must keep track of three different numbers that must be spoken aloud before each serve by the server. The first number is the serving teams score, the second number is the receiving teams score, and the third number is the server number. Each side will always get at least two serves, one per person, with exception to the very first serve of game, where the serving team is only guaranteed one serve. The first person to serve, will be server number 1. Whoever is in the right service court when a side starts to serve, will be server number 1, again, with the exception to the very first serve of the game, which in this case will be server number 2. So on the first serve of the game, serving from the right service court, the server will call out, 0-0-2. Again, 0 for the serving teams score, 0 for the receiving teams score, and 2 for the server number. The server will then serve the Pickleball, standing behind the baseline, and serve underhand to the adjacent service court, or the right service court on the other side. For a serve to be valid, it must land within the bounds of that right service court. All lines are considered in, except for the non-volley line, or the kitchen line. If the ball lands on the non-volley line on the serve, the serve is lost. This server will continue to serve as long as he wins the point. In Pickleball, you can only score a point when your team is the serving team. When a point is scored, the server number stays the same, but the serving teams score will increase by one. Also, every time a point is scored, the players on the serving team will switch positions, and the same server will serve again. If this isn't making sense we suggest watching the video, pickleball is much easier to learn visually.

Basic Rules & Gameplay

A unique rule to the game of pickleball is the double bounce rule, which is unofficially called the second bounce rule. The double bounce rule means that before the ball can be hit out of th air, it has to bounce on each side of the court one time. After this second bounce, either side is free to hit the ball out of the air without letting it touch the court. A crucial part of pickleball to understand is the rules associated with the non-volley zone, or the kitchen. a volley is described by the IFP as “hitting the ball in the air before the ball has a chance to bounce onto the court”. Simply stated, you may not step into the non volley zone and hit the ball out of the air UNLESS the ball has already bounced inside of the non volley zone. In that case, you may step into the "kitchen" and hit the ball, but it is important that you step out before you hit the ball again. For a visual on these rules and some basic gameplay checkout how to play pickleball part 3! (video to the right)