Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing recreational sports in the USA with the popularity of the game rising dramatically in recent years. The sport has seen a rise in players of all ages and abilities with growth in both the professional game and for amateurs.
The sport combines various elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong to create a fun fast-paced game. Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with a net similar to a tennis net and can be played either indoors or outdoors.
So, let’s find out more about the sport that’s taking over not only America but a lot of the world.
For beginners, the basic rules of pickleball are very similar to tennis. The ball is served, in an underhand motion, diagonally across the net into the opponent’s service box. The ball is then hit back and forth until one player fails to return the ball. Games are typically played as first to 11 points, with the winner requiring a lead of at least two clear points. Points can only be scored by the player or doubles partnership that is serving.
Of course, like all other sports, there are a number of different, more complex, rules that players need to be aware of, below is an overview of all pickleball rules:
- Players must allow the ball to bounce once before returning it.
- There is a seven-foot ‘no-volley’ zone on either side of the net which aims to stop players from spiking or smashing the ball.
- Each team must allow the ball to bounce before playing their first shot of the point. The receiving team must let it bounce after the serve and the serving team must let the returned shot bounce before playing it back. After these two shots have been played the ball can either be volleyed or allowed to bounce before returning.
Pickleball serving rules
- The serve must be hit in an underhand motion and contact must be made below the hips.
- The server must be behind the baseline and serve into the adjacent service box, similarly to tennis.
- You only get 1 serve, if the ball is hit out of the court, into the net or into the no-volley zone it is a side out - this is when service swaps sides.
- The centerline, sidelines, and baselines are considered in when serving but the no-volley line is not.
- If the ball hits the net and goes into the service box it is a let and the server maintains the serve.
- Points can only be scored when serving
- In doubles each player serves until a point is lost before the service is swapped over to the other team.
- At the start of the game, the team that serves first only gets 1 player to serve.
- The 1st server on each side always serves from the right service box into the opposing right service box.
The pickleball court
Pickleball is played on a court with the same dimensions as a doubles badminton court. There is no differentiation in court when playing singles or doubles in pickleball, the same court is used for both.
The net on a pickleball court is 34 inches high in the middle, giving the court a similar feel to a tennis court, however, the main difference is the no-volley zone. This is a seven-foot section of the court in front of the net. It is also referred to as the kitchen.
Scoring a pickleball match
As previously mentioned, points can only be scored when a team or player is serving. A match is typically played as the first to 11 points, however, there needs to be at least a clear two-point difference. Therefore, if the game is 10-10 the winner needs to get to 12 points to give them a two-point lead.
When calling the score in a doubles match it should be called as three numbers. The first two numbers are the servers score and the receivers scores, and the final number is the server number. For example, if the score was 3 - 2 - 2 then the servers have three points, the receivers have two and it’s the second server. At the start of the match the score is called as 0 - 0 - 2, this is because the teams only get one server on their first go.
It’s time to play pickleball
That’s just about everything you need to know to start you on your pickleball journey. Once you’ve experienced the sport you’ll soon understand why it’s becoming such a popular pastime for those of all ages.
Be sure to keep your eye out on the Tennisletics blog as we will be bringing you tons of pickleball based advice and content to help you improve all aspects of your game.