Pickleball, like any sport, has quite a few terms which can be confusing at first for anyone new to the sport. To try to make things easier, I have put together a list of the most common expressions, along with an explanation to help you get up to speed more quickly.
If you know of any common terms which might help beginners, please feel free to contact me and I will add them to the list.
Ball – The round sphere-shaped object with the holes in it that we like to hit.
Cross-step – When facing the net, an action of one leg stepping over in front of the other to gain ground area in a lateral left or right direction.
Defense – The team attempting to stop an attack from the advancing offensive opponent.
Dink – A softly attacked ball that is hit over the net into the NVZ of the opponent with a low trajectory and soft low bounce.
Drop – A medium paced attacked ball from mid to deep court that will apex 3′ to 4′ on the offensive side of the net and begin to descend over the net and land in the opponents NVZ. Most often used on the third shot of the game or anytime a defending team is attempting to regain position at the NVZ from deep in their own court.
Elephant – A paddle that is hanging and pointing to the ground like an elephant’s
King – The man who may be the best player of the night. Let – A ball that is deemed to be replayed.
Net – The dividing piece of equipment that separates the two playing courts.
NVZ – Non-Volley Zone. Affectionately called the “Kitchen”, the NVZ is the front seven-foot section of the court in which no ball can be attacked with a volley shot. This area includes all surrounding border lines closest to the net.
Match – A set of three games. Winner with the best two out of three games.
Offense – The team in possession of the ball and that is on the “attack” to attempt the score. Overhead – An overhead attack that one needs to reach above their head to strike a ball in a downward motion towards their opponent’s court.
Pantry – The imaginary out-of-bounds extension of the NVZ.
Pickleball – The sport that combines the aspects of badminton, tennis and tabletennis.
Power source – The core of the body’s strength and stability generated by the abdominal region and upper thighs.
Queen – The woman who may be the best player of the night.
Ready position – A slightly crouched position in anticipation of an attack. Standing tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, lower your body by bending the knees with a slight lean forward. Weight is on the balls of your feet, ready to use the grip of your shoes. Your shoulders, knees, and feet should all be in a vertical line position, with your head up and looking straight ahead.
Starting with your arms along the sides of your body, raise your arms so that the paddle is now in front of your chest with your non-paddle hand touching the back side of the paddle.
It is almost like praying but your hands are not together. This is a neutral position with a strong grip but not overly tight, shoulders are relaxed and your “shield” (paddle) is up to defend your space. This athletic stance is the most common orientation in athletics.
Return – A ball that is struck in the opposite direction from which it came.
Serve – A ball that is struck below the waist in an upward bowling like motion from behind the end line to start play of a point.
Serve Reception – A ball that is hit by the defensive team after the ball has been served. The second shot of the game.
Side-out – When the defending team causes the offensive team to turn the ball over to them. Two servers have completed a rotation.
Squeeze the Lemon – Term used to grip the paddle with more intensity to gain control. An isometric tensing of the grip on the paddle.
X-position – Standing perpendicular to the net; this is primarily an offensive attack position. When deep into your backcourt, the lead hand or non-paddle hand is raised in the air and points at the ball as it descends from a high position in front of the body. The paddle hand is also raised in the air behind the body in a throwing-like position ready for attack.
The legs are in a split position with 80% of your weight on the back leg. The player looks to be in an “X” shape stance, perpendicular to the net or in a throwing motion. This is a power attack position for a high, overhead smash return. Weight is transferred from back leg to front leg to initiate power and whip-like action.
Y-position – Standing parallel to the net in a split step stance without moving the feet, the player rotates the upper torso away from the net so the body is in an overhead attack position.
The non-paddle hand is pointing to the overhead ball target. The paddle hand is above and slightly behind the head in a ready to attack position. The chest and hips are at approximately a 45-degree angle to the net as the upper body rotates forward to attack.