Guide: Rules for Pickleball

Thanks to the International Federation of Pickleball, pickleball has become a well-known sport throughout the world, offering a fun way to exercise at nearly any age. But what exactly is pickleball? What makes it an entertaining game?

Here in our complete guide to pickleball, you'll learn everything about the basics of the game, the court layout and the most important rules to follow to enjoy the game. Whether you consider yourself a star athlete or want to play a casual game, it's easy to learn how the game is played no matter your skill level.

Read on to learn more about pickleball and how you can begin playing the popular sport.

An Overview of the Basics of Pickleball

The game looks similar to other popular sports like tennis, racquetball, badminton and table tennis. To play pickleball, you'll need a pickleball paddle, a pickleball and a court. The pickleball ball looks like a traditional whiffle ball with holes. The pickleball court is the same size as a badminton court and includes the same markings for gameplay — 20'W x 44'L, with a zone in the middle referred to as "the kitchen" or the non-volley zone.

The non-volley zone is 7' from either side of the net. Here, you're not allowed to volley the pickleball. Additionally, players can't step on the line of the non-volley zone or it's considered a fault, even after the ball is dead. The non-volley zone is in place to prevent spiking, making the game easier for all players.

Typically, you play pickleball with singles or doubles. To begin, a player will serve the ball with an underhand diagonal serve, beginning with the right service square. A player or team can only score points when they're the serving team. The receiving player or team must allow the ball to bounce only once before they can hit it back to the other side. The server will continue serving until they fault. Participants play until one player or team reaches 11 or 15 points.

10 Important Pickleball Rules

Knowing the rules and regulations of pickleball is essential to the sport. As with any other sport, everyone on the pickleball court should follow the rules to ensure each game is as fair and lively as possible. When learning the rules, practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to play even when you're still unsure of a few regulations. The other players will be happy to help you learn.

When you play pickleball, you should know the top 10 most important rules of the game. These rules are similar to pickleball's related sports, like tennis — but they're also unique enough that you'll want to ensure you understand them thoroughly. These 10 rules make up the basics of the sport and will help you play a successful match of pickleball.

1. Rules of the Court

The pickleball court is essential to the sport. The court liens create two service areas and baselines on either side, measuring 10 feet by 15 feet. Each service area is divided by the center line in the middle of the court. When volleying the ball, players must stay within the service areas. It's important that players refrain from entering "the kitchen," or the nonvolley zone, when playing pickleball.

If you're looking for a place to play pickleball, look for pickleball courts or badminton courts in your area. Some tennis courts can be modified to play pickleball, too. It can also be fun to create a pickleball court in your driveway, so long as you have enough space to outline the court.

2. Serving Sequence Rules

The game begins with a serve. The process of the serving sequence is a unique aspect of pickleball, and it's important to understand it so the game can run smoothly.

The game starts with the first server positioned in the right service area. The player will serve the ball diagonally to the player in the opposing right service area. If the serving team wins the point, the same server will serve again from the left service area. This process continues as the serving team earns points, switching service areas until the team faults and the ball position switches to the other team.

It's only possible to earn points when serving. When the non-serving team wins the rally, they now serve, but they don't earn a point for that rally.

3. Pickleball Serving Rules

After you understand the serving sequence of pickleball, you can learn more about the serving process and how it's regulated during the game.

Every serve is completed underhand. The player begins the serve by raising their hand and dropping the ball. Then, they'll swing and hit the ball with an underhand hit right below the waist. The server can also perform a drop serve, which entails allowing the ball to bounce before underhand serving.

The ball can't bounce on the serving team's side of the court after the serve. The ball must pass over the net and bounce within the opposing team's service area box, which is diagonal from the server. The server must stand behind the baseline and within their service area during their serve. If the server hits the ball into the opponent's kitchen area, the server will fault and the opportunity to serve switches to the opposing team.

4. Two-Bounce Rule

Another unique pickleball rule is the two-bounce rule, also known as the double-bounce rule. This rule is an essential part of every pickleball game.

Once the ball is served, the receiving team must allow the ball to bounce once on their side of the court before making contact with the ball. After the initial return, the ball must again bounce on the serving team's side. After the ball bounces twice during a rally, the teams may decide whether they want to volley the ball, which means hit the ball before it bounces, or groundstroke the ball, which means allowing the ball to bounce once before hitting it to the other team.

The two-bounce rule helps make rallies longer so the gameplay is more entertaining. 

5. Call-Out Rules

When you're calling out the score in a pickleball game, you have to do so properly. Announcing the score during a game is helpful, making players aware of which team is leading and how long they have until the game ends. The call-out rule helps remind players of the score and informs them what team is serving.

When announcing the pickleball score, you'll call out three numbers — the first number is the serving team's score, the second number is the opposing team's score and the third number is the serving rotation. The serving rotation call-outs will be "start," which is to begin the match, or "one" or "two." Saying "one" will show that the serving team is using their first server and "two" will show that the second server is up, so the next fault will cause the serving team to side out.

6. Scoring Rules

The only team that can serve throughout the match is the serving team. Each team will try to win every rally and either continue to be the serving team or become the serving team to score points.

Whether you play your pickleball games to 11 or 15, the winning team must win by two points. If a team reaches 11 points but the opposing team has 10 points, the game will continue until one team is two points ahead. There are also teams that choose to play until 21 — it all depends on your preferences.

7. Out of Bounds Rules

The ball must stay within the perimeter of the court lines during each serve and hit. This provides a 22-by-20-foot space for players to hit the pickleball when they're not serving. If the ball falls out of bounds, it's considered a fault. If the ball touches the line, you can call it inbounds so long as it's partially inside.

This rule allows the players to have a large amount of space for gameplay. The space helps make the game playable for doubles while ensuring players can determine whether the serving team receives a point or the opposing team gets to serve.

8. Net Rules

The pickleball net also has its own rules. A regulation pickleball net measures 36 inches high and stretches across the court's centerline. The net is taut but hangs lower in the middle, making the middle net height around 34 inches. This height difference encourages players to aim hits toward the center of the net so more balls cross over and stay inside the boundary lines of the court.

If you serve the ball and it hits the net and ends up on your opponent's side, you can serve the ball again, called a "let." If you touch the net while trying to return the ball, you'll lose the rally — that includes any part of your body or equipment, including your clothing and your paddle.


Pickleball Net

Pickleball Net with Wheels

Choosing Rhino Pickleball

Are you ready to enjoy a game of pickleball? To make pickleball even more fun, you should choose affordable, high-quality pickleball equipment. Shop for some of the best pickleball equipment online from Rhino Pickleball.

Rhino Pickleball proudly provides all levels of athletes with amazing pickleball gear so they can enjoy the popular game anywhere. Whether you want to play with friends or train for competitions, our selection of gear is perfect for any pickleball game. Check out the following pickleball gear at Rhino Pickleball:

pickleball paddle

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The equipment we carry ranges in style and cost, making it accessible for numerous pickleball players.

Contact Rhino Pickleball Today

Rhino Pickleball is your one-stop shop for all of your pickleball gear needs. Contact us today if you have any questions about our equipment or want to learn additional information about our products. With equipment from Rhino Pickleball, you can take on each pickleball game with precision.