The Basic Pickleball Rules You Need to Know Before Playing

Night Train Pickleball coach showing and talking to students.

Pickleball has gained immense popularity in recent years, attracting players of all ages and skill levels. If you’re new to the sport or looking to brush up on the rules, this article is for you. Understanding the basic pickleball rules is essential for an enjoyable and fair gameplay experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the key rules and regulations that you need to know before stepping onto the pickleball court. Let’s dive in!

Court and Equipment

Pickleball is typically played on a court with dimensions of 20 feet by 44 feet. The court is divided into two halves by a net that is placed at a height of 36 inches at the center. Players use solid paddles made of composite materials to hit a perforated plastic ball over the net.

Serving

To start a pickleball game, the serving team must make an underhand serve diagonally cross-court to the opponent’s side. The serve must clear the non-volley zone, which extends 7 feet on either side of the net. Each player gets one opportunity to serve before it switches to the opponent’s turn. The serve must be made behind the baseline and land in the diagonal service court. If the serve touches the net but lands within the proper service court, it is called a “let” and is replayed.

Scoring

Pickleball follows a server scoring system, meaning points can be scored by the serving team. Games are typically played to 11 points, and a two-point lead is required to win. The serving team scores a point if the opposing team fails to return the ball or commits a fault. The serving team rotates sides and the server switches after each point is scored. When the game score reaches 11-10, the team that reaches 11 points must win by two clear points.

Faults and Double Bounces

Certain actions result in faults, which award a point to the opposing team. Faults include stepping into the non-volley zone and volleying the ball (hitting it in the air without letting it bounce) while standing inside the non-volley zone. The ball must bounce once on each side after the serve before volleys can be made. If the ball is hit before the required bounce or if it is volleyed from within the non-volley zone, it results in a fault. Additionally, a ball that lands out of bounds or touches the net without crossing over is considered a fault.

Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone, also known as the “kitchen,” is a seven-foot area on either side of the net. Players are not allowed to volley the ball while standing inside this zone. However, they can enter the non-volley zone to play a ball that has bounced. It’s important to note that a player’s momentum can not carry them into the non-volley zone after a hitting volley.

Conclusion

Understanding the basic pickleball rules is crucial to enjoying the game and playing it fairly. By familiarizing yourself with the court dimensions, serving guidelines, scoring system, faults, and the non-volley zone, you’ll be well-equipped to step onto the pickleball court with confidence. Embrace the rules, practice your skills, and get ready for a thrilling pickleball experience that combines strategy, agility, and camaraderie.

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