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Simple Pickleball Rules to Get You Playing

Pickleball paddel with 3 pickleball balls in simple pickleball rules article

Simple Pickleball Rules to Get You Playing

So you’ve decided you want to try playing Pickleball but don’t know how it works. There’s a bit to learn, but where to start? Perhaps some simple Pickleball rules will get you up to speed.

What Is Pickleball?

As one of the fastest-growing sports and hobbies in the world right now, Pickleball is a game that started in the United States of America in 1956 and has continued to spread locally and internationally.

Pickleball is a paddleball sport that was created from the combination of lawn tennis, ping pong, and badminton. It can be played indoors or outdoors, as a singles game (one player on either side of the court) or a doubles game.

Pickleball combines elements and adapts some rules of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Despite combining aspects of these sports, Pickleball also has unique rules that determine how the game is played. Due to its fast-changing nature, Pickleball rules are still subject to frequent modifications.

Here are some simple Pickleball rules that are easy to understand for the beginner.

Simple Pickleball Rules

It does not matter whether you’re playing a casual or competitive game, Pickleball rules should be used whenever the game is being played to achieve the best results. Here are some of the most popular Pickleball rules.


When serving, the player must stand outside the court behind the baseline and between the center line and the borderline. The server must hit the ball diagonally to the opponent’s service court with an underarm stroke and ensure that while he holds the bat below the wrist, he must make contact with the ball below the waist level.

To start playing, the player must drop the ball with one hand and hit the serve with the other. If the player is serving from the right side of the court, he must hit the ball diagonally to the right side of his opponent’s service court and ensure that his two feet are behind the baseline when serving. The server commits a fault when:

  • They don’t serve the ball beyond the net.

  • They don’t hit the ball diagonally to the opponent’s service court.

  • They step beyond the baseline into the court while serving.

  • The server hits the ball out of court or into the non-volley zone.

Serving Sequence

The side that gets to serve first is selected by participating in something that gives each team a 50/50 chance to win, such as a coin toss for example. The two sides may also rally to decide the team that serves first. The server makes the first serve from the right-hand side of the court.

In a doubles game, both players from the same side of the court will serve and win points or commit faults before the opponents can get their turn to serve.

However, during the first serve of the game, the serving team only gets one chance to commit a fault before the next team gets to serve. Therefore, the first server calls out 0-0-2 at the beginning of the serve. The two zeros represent the current score, while the “2” represents the serving sequence, which is the team’s final opportunity to commit a fault before the opponent gets to serve.

A player can serve as many times as possible if he keeps winning the point. Every time the server wins a point, he switches to the opposite side of his court and serves again. This goes on until he commits a fault and his teammate gets to serve. The teammate also gets a similar opportunity until he commits a fault and the team loses the serve.

The 10-second rule

The server has 10 seconds to serve the ball or risk getting called for a fault whenever the score is called. The server has to serve within those 10 seconds regardless of whether the opponent is ready or not.

Double Bounce Rule

After the first serve, the opponent must let the ball bounce before returning the serve. The serving team must also let the ball bounce before returning the opponent’s ball. After those two bounces, play can continue as usual. This is to prevent an unfair advantage to either side and ensure that the rally is prolonged.

Scoring Points and Winning Games

Only the team that serves can score points. The other team also tries to win the rally to get the chance to serve and score points. The team that gets to 11 points first while leading the opponent by at least two points wins the game. In tournaments, however, play can end at 15 or 21, rather than 11.

Non-Volley Zone

In Pickleball, a volley means hitting the ball without letting it bounce on the court. As the name implies, the non-volley zone is an area on the court where volleys are not allowed. The non-volley zone is a rectangular area on the court that is 7 feet from each side of the net. It is also known as the kitchen because of the phrase “best to stay out of the kitchen.”

The ball must bounce first before hitting the ball in this zone; otherwise, it is counted as a fault. The rules of the non-volley zone are only concerned with the area on the floor of the court and not the airspace over the zone.

Therefore, if you lean over into the non-volley zone and you volley the ball without physically touching the area or the line surrounding it, you haven’t committed a fault. You have committed a non-volley zone fault if:

• You volley a ball in the Non-Volley Zone while any part of your body physically touches the area.

• You volley a ball outside the zone, and the momentum takes you into the area.

• Your foot touches the line surrounding the non-volley zone.

Line Call

When a ball is played and lands on any of the lines within or surrounding the court, it is considered “in,” and play should continue. The only time a ball is considered as a fault after landing on the line is when the ball touches the line surrounding the non-volley zone during a serve.

Recent Modifications to the Pickleball Rules

Drop Serve

This means dropping the ball from a height with one hand, letting it bounce, then hitting it diagonally over the net and into the opponent’s service area with the other hand. Initially, Drop Serve was considered a fault. However, recent changes to the rules have allowed the Drop Serve to stand. Many Pickleball enthusiasts believe that this new modification makes the game even more beginner-friendly.


When a player serves the ball, and it hits the net before dropping into the opponent’s service area, it is called Let. Before the recent modification to the rules, the player would have to serve again. However, the new rule states that the play should be allowed to continue.

Keep Up with Pickleball Rules

Pickleball rules are constantly being modified to make it widely acceptable and remove controversy in the game. The sport continues to gain reverence in recreational centers, public parks, physical education classes, and retirement homes, especially in North America.

These simple pickleball rules will get you started, but it’s important to keep up with the rules if you are playing competitively.

With the growth rate of this sport, it has become a matter of when rather than if it would be adopted as an Olympics game sometime in the future.

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