Pickleball is quickly becoming a popular game globally, and for a good reason. It’s easy to play, but the rules are also quite simple to understand.
In order to have a successful and fair game of pickleball, all players must be aware of the game’s basic rules. By following these rules, everyone can ensure that there are no faults and that the game carries on without any arguments and disagreements.
According to the five pickleball rules, the ball must stay within the court boundaries with no more than one bounce per side. The player must stand behind the baseline while serving, the serve should clear the kitchen, and the game concludes at 11, 15, or 21 points.
The 5 Rules of Pickleball
These rules exist to tell the players where and how they should stand while serving, the court boundaries, how to record the score, and how to serve and return the ball. Let’s dive into the details of each of the five pickleball rules, so you can brush up on your concepts and get ready to have some fun on the court!
1. Serving Basics
In pickleball, the player is required to hit the ball with an underhand stroke while serving. It is also a rule to contact the ball below the waist and to move the arm in an upward arc. The player has a choice to use the drop serve technique. In this technique, he can let the ball drop and hit it after the bounce.
The serve must be made diagonally to the opposite side of the court, and the player must stand behind the baseline while serving. The ball must land in the opposite service court and bounce once before the other player returns it.
Once the ball has been hit, the player must follow through toward the target and get to the right position to receive the service return.
For the drop serve to be legal, the player must drop the ball instead of propelling it downwards and then allow it to be bounced. The player must ensure no force is applied to the ball while dropping it.
In a singles game, there is only one serve attempt permitted. The service is given to the other player if it results in a fault. However, in a doubles game, each team gets two chances to serve, one for either player.
Read more here: How to Serve in Pickleball?
2. How Are Points Scored?
In pickleball, points are scored only on a serve. This means the returning team will not be able to score any points. This rule exists for both singles and doubles games of pickleball. To score a point, the serving team must win the rally.
If the other team cannot return the ball and it’s not a fault, the serving team wins a point. The team that scores the winning point wins. Each game is played to 11, 15, or 21 points, and the player or team must win by two points.
This means if one of the players has reached 11 points, but his opponent has 10 points, the game will continue till one of the players has a lead of 2 points. In a singles game, the most common total is either 11 or 15. In doubles, 15 and 21 totals are more common.
3. The Court Boundaries
The court boundaries are an important rule of pickleball as they define where the players must stand and hit the ball. The court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. It is compartmentalized into two parts by a net 36 inches high on the sides and 34 inches high in the middle.
The lines are included in the total length and width of the court. The exact location where the ball lands are called the point of contact. This is important so that the referee or the players can know whether the ball is in or out. If a ball hits a line at its point of contact, it’s considered inbound.
The boundaries are marked by lines on either side of the court, and any ball that lands outside these lines is considered out of bounds. While serving, the player must stand behind the baseline, which is marked with the help of a 2-inch wide white tape.
Read an in-depth article here: What are the Dimensions of a Pickleball Court?
4. The Double-Bounce Rule
The double-bounce rule dictates that each player must let the ball bounce once for the service and return. This means that if the returning player hits the ball before it bounced once, it is considered an illegal shot, and the serving team will receive a point.
Similarly, the serving player must make sure the ball bounces once before hitting it. Once the serve and the return of the serve are done, the players have the option to either hit the ball in the air or let it bounce and then hit it. This rule helps to keep the game fair and prevents one team from dominating the other.
This rule can be easily misunderstood because it’s a bit confusing. Some people think they must always let the ball bounce before hitting it (like in table tennis). Remember, it’s called the “double-bounce rule,” Therefore, the ball must bounce only twice when a rally starts, and then the players are free to take it in the air or let it bounce depending on how they want to play it.
5. The Non-Volley Zone
The non-volley zone, or the kitchen, is a 7 feet wide area that extends from the net on either side of the court. The ball must clear this zone and land in the proper service box when serving. If the ball lands in the kitchen, it results in a fault.
After the service, the ball may land in the non-volley zone, but the player will not be able to volley it. If a player volleys the ball after serving or returning it and they are standing in the non-volley zone, the point will be awarded to the opponent.
It is also important to keep in mind that you must not be standing on the kitchen line when volleying the ball. Also, if you volley the ball and your momentum carries you to the kitchen afterward, it will still be considered a fault.
Read more here: What is the Kitchen in Pickleball?