Indoor Pickleball Court Etiquette: Rules and Best Practices

Indoor Pickleball Court Etiquette: Rules and Best Practices

Pickleball has taken the world by storm and experienced incredible growth in recent years as more people realize the many health and social benefits. Whether you're a new player or an experienced pickleballer, knowing everything possible about pickleball rules and court etiquette makes your game better and more enjoyable for everyone. 

The Basics of Indoor Pickleball

Outdoor pickleball courts often have asphalt or concrete surfaces, but grass and clay courts are also rapidly gaining popularity. Indoor courts have polyurethane surfaces that provide cushioning and reduce the impact on players' joints. 

A pickleball court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. Within the court are several zones, including:

  • The non-volley zone: Also known as "the kitchen," this zone covers 7 feet on either side of the net
  • The service zones: Serves must land in this area for rallies to begin. 
  • Baselines and sidelines: These court boundaries determine whether a shot is in or out. 
  • Centerline: This line shows you where you can stand during serves and rallies. 

Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleball

Indoor and outdoor pickleball each have pros and cons, but you can expect longer workouts and greater variability than tennis, regardless of where you play. Some of the main benefits of indoor pickleball are you can play whenever you want, the court material is kinder on the joints and indoor venues provide more regulated conditions for competitive play. 

However, playing at a venue with multiple courts can make tracking which lines affect your gameplay challenging. Knowing the subtle differences in the rules and tournament etiquette can enrich your game and provide some variation. 

Indoor Pickleball Rules

The rules of indoor pickleball are the same as the outdoor version. While playing doubles is most common, you can also play one-on-one. Read through these basic pickleball rules to get a good idea of the game: 

The Scoring System

Before you familiarize yourself with the rules, it helps to know how the scoring system works. In a single game, you'll play to 11 points and must win by two points. You can play to either 15 or 21 points in tournaments, but you still must win by two. Points can only be scored by the serving team. 

When the serving team's score is even, the player who served first in the game will be on the right-hand court when serving or receiving. When the score is odd, they will be on the left. 

Serving Rules

The serve is essential in pickleball. You can maintain the upper hand for most of your game if you have a strong serve. Some basic serving rules include: 

  • The server's arm must move upward when they strike the ball. 
  • The paddle must meet the ball below waist level. 
  • At contact, the paddle head must be equal to or below the highest part of the server's wrist. 
  • Drop serves are also permitted. 
  • The server must serve diagonally across the court. The ball must land within the boundaries of the opposite diagonal court. 
  • Servers get one attempt to serve. If the ball lands in the kitchen, it's out. 
  • The first serve of every side-out must be from the right of the court. If the serving team scores a point, they serve again from the left side. They must continue switching from left to right until they lose the serve. 

The Two Bounce Rule

graphic for pickleball explaining that the receiver must let the ball bounce once before hitting it

Once someone serves, the receivers must let the ball bounce once before returning. Then, the serving team does the same before returning — that's one bounce per team. Once the ball has bounced in each team's court, teams must volley or play it off a bounce. 

The Kitchen

Vollies are prohibited in the kitchen. When a player volleys and their momentum carries them into the kitchen, it's considered a fault. 

Faults and Violations

Faults stop play when a team or player violates a rule. The serving team wins a point if the receiving team is responsible for a fault. When the serving team is responsible, they lose the serve. 

Pickleball Indoor Court Etiquette

Pickleball rules make the game, but proper etiquette sets the tone and keeps the game fun for everyone. Playing indoors, you likely have limited space since you're sharing with other players on nearby courts. Avoid becoming "that player" with the following tips.

Sharing Court Space

Indoor pickleball etiquette has subtle differences from outdoor. Remember these general rules: 

  • Reserving court time: Indoor courts are often busier than outdoor. They often host other sports, including volleyball and basketball. Reserve your court time in advance to avoid misunderstandings. If you see people waiting their turn, avoid feeling pressured, but don't take your time. Specific venues will only play to nine points during peak times. Find out in advance to respect everyone's time. 
  • Rotating players: Two rotation methods exist. Two up/two down is ideal if seven players or fewer are waiting to play. The winning team stays on the court but plays the next game on opposite teams. The losing team moves to the bench, bringing in two new players. Four up/four down means all four players take the bench after a game, allowing new players to take the court. It's ideal for situations in which eight or more players are waiting. 
  • Doubles vs. singles: Playing doubles is good player etiquette at a busy indoor court. Open your game up to other players to maintain the fun. 

Using Indoor-Specific Gear

You'll get much more out of your game with the right equipment. Indoor pickleball gear differs from outdoor in several ways. Coming prepared is part of your overall game etiquette. Here's what to bring:  

  • Court shoes: Wearing the right shoes is essential for indoor pickleball. Look for a sole that grips the indoor surface and allows you to move around the court safely. 
  • Indoor paddles: The paddles for indoor pickleball differ slightly in design. Indoor paddles are lighter with smaller faces, allowing players to generate more spin on their shots. 
  • Proper attire: Wear lightweight, breathable clothes for sports, such as T-shirts, leggings, shorts and tennis skirts. 
  • Indoor balls: Indoor balls have 26 holes of a wider diameter than outdoor balls, which have 40 smaller holes. They are also lighter and softer to facilitate indoor play. 

Being Considerate of Your Fellow Players

Pickleball is more than a team sport. It's a way to have fun while getting to know new people. Due to the sport's popularity, you will likely encounter various people at an indoor venue. Keep the following best practices in mind to ensure everyone has a great experience: 

  • Maintain reasonable noise levels: Having fun is your first priority. Keeping your noise levels down allows others to do the same. 
  • Clear the court after your game: When your game is over, remove all your belongings from the court to prevent the next group of players from tripping over them. If you're renting equipment, ensure you clean it thoroughly before you return it. 
  • Be a good sport: Greet the other players and meet at the net afterward to shake hands and thank them for the game. Maintain sportsmanlike behavior like congratulating your opponents for outstanding play, playing with all skill levels and avoiding outbursts. 
  • Communicate with other players: Tell other players when you're going for the ball and settle disputes amicably. Remember, it's just a game, so if there's any debate about a fault, give the other players the benefit of the doubt. Call the score before each serve to keep everyone on the same page. 
  • Welcome newcomers: Everyone starts somewhere. Be mindful not to exclude beginner players and ask them if they want assistance. Avoid critiquing players unless they ask. 

Boost Your Indoor Pickleball Game With Quality Equipment From Rhino Pickleball

The number one rule of pickleball is to keep the game fun and respectful. With good etiquette, you can boost your game. You can elevate it even more with quality paddles and other gear at affordable prices. Shop Rhino Pickleball products, or contact us with any questions!

Graphic explaining how you can boost your indoor play with Rhino Pickleball gear