Here are the pickleball rules you need to know now

By Trey Sizemore •  Updated: Over a week ago •  6 min read  •  Beginner

Pickleball is a fun and exciting sport that has been rapidly growing in popularity over the past decade. It’s a unique blend of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, making it an incredibly engaging and addictive game for players of all ages and skill levels. However, like any sport, pickleball has its own set of rules that govern gameplay. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the essential pickleball rules every player should know.

What is Pickleball?

Before we dive into the rules, let’s briefly cover what pickleball is. Pickleball is a paddle sport played on a badminton-sized court with a perforated plastic ball and solid paddles. The game is typically played in doubles, with two teams of two players each. The objective is to hit the ball over the net and into the opposing team’s court, scoring points by causing the other team to fault.

The Basic Pickleball Rules

  1. The Court Pickleball is played on a rectangular court that measures 20 feet wide and 44 feet long for both singles and doubles play. The court is divided into two equal halves by a net that sits 36 inches high at the sidelines and 34 inches high in the center. The court also features a 7-foot non-volley zone on each side, commonly referred to as the “kitchen.”
  2. The Serve The serve is an essential part of pickleball and has several rules to follow:
  1. Scoring in pickleball is straightforward:
  1. Double Bounce Rule One of the unique rules in pickleball is the double bounce rule. After the serve, each team must let the ball bounce once in their respective court before returning it. This rule applies only after the serve, and after that, the ball can be hit before or after it bounces.
  2. Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen) The non-volley zone, or kitchen, is a crucial area in pickleball. Players are not allowed to step into this zone to hit a volley (hitting the ball before it bounces). Doing so results in a fault, and the opposing team scores a point. However, players can enter the non-volley zone to hit a ball that has bounced.
  3. Faults In pickleball, there are several ways a fault can occur:

When a fault occurs, the opposing team scores a point, and the server rotates to the next player on the serving team.

  1. Line Calls Pickleball has specific rules regarding line calls. If a ball lands on any part of the line, it is considered in. Players are responsible for calling lines on their respective side of the court.
  2. Serving Order In pickleball doubles, the serving order must be maintained throughout the game. The initial serving order is determined by the team that wins the coin toss or other fair method. The serving team continues serving until they commit a fault, at which point the serve rotates to the opposing team.

Advanced Pickleball Shots and Strategies

  1. The Dink Shot The dink shot is a crucial strategic shot in pickleball. It involves hitting a soft, low-bouncing shot that lands just over the non-volley zone line, making it difficult for the opposing team to return. Mastering the dink shot can significantly improve your gameplay.
  2. The Lob Shot The lob shot is a defensive shot that sends the ball high and deep into the opponent’s court, giving you time to recover your position. It’s an effective way to reset the point and force your opponents to retreat from the non-volley zone.
  3. The Third Shot Drop The third shot drop is a common offensive strategy in pickleball. After the serve and the return, the third shot is hit softly and low, causing the ball to drop into the opponent’s non-volley zone, making it difficult for them to return.
  4. The Poach Poaching is a strategy where a player moves from their side of the court to intercept and return a ball intended for their partner. This can be an effective way to catch the opposing team off guard and gain an offensive advantage.
  5. The Stacking Strategy In doubles play, the stacking strategy involves positioning one player at the non-volley line and the other player slightly behind, creating a formidable defensive wall. This strategy can be highly effective in controlling the court and forcing the opponents to make difficult shots.
  6. The Two-Handed Backhand While not a rule per se, the two-handed backhand is a popular technique in pickleball. It provides added stability and power, making it easier to return shots from the non-volley zone or on the run.

Pickleball Etiquette and Safety

While pickleball is a fun and social game, it’s essential to follow proper etiquette and safety guidelines to ensure an enjoyable experience for all players:

  1. Call All Lines and Faults Honestly Fair play is crucial in pickleball. Always call lines and faults honestly, even if it means giving the opposing team a point.
  2. Avoid Unnecessary Noise and Movement Refrain from making loud noises or excessive movement during gameplay, as it can be distracting to other players.
  3. Wait for the Ball to Clear When moving to retrieve a ball, wait until the ball has cleared the court to avoid interfering with active play.
  4. Wear Appropriate Attire and Footwear For your safety and the safety of others, wear proper athletic shoes and comfortable, non-restrictive clothing.
  5. Stay Alert and Keep Paddle in Front Always stay alert and keep your paddle in front of your face to protect yourself from stray balls.
  6. Respect the Courts and Facilities Treat the pickleball courts and facilities with care and respect. Clean up after yourself and follow any posted rules or regulations.

Pickleball is a fun, social, and addictive sport that continues to gain popularity worldwide. By understanding and following the essential pickleball rules, you can improve your gameplay, develop effective strategies, and enjoy the sport to the fullest. Remember to prioritize safety, etiquette, and fair play, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and respected pickleball player.

Trey Sizemore

Trey Sizemore is the founder of, and the host of the 'Dinking Out Loud' podcast. Trey has been playing pickleball for several years and loves helping others discover this great game and improve their skills. Trey has launched several online resources with the goal of helping players of all levels improve their game through multi-format instruction.