The rules of pickleballPickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US. Pickleball is played on a court similar to tennis with a slightly smaller court and net. The game is usually played with doubles and players use specialized equipment for pickleball, including a net, paddle, shoes and “pickleball”. Some people have described the sport as a cross between ping pong and tennis. Pickleball is a great way to get active and have fun. That’s why we love it.

General Pickleball Rules

  • Serves must be underhand without bouncing the ball before you hit it.
  • One foot has to be behind the baseline and the other one can be in the box.
  • Games are normally played to 11 (win by two).
  • You only score when it is your teams serve.
  • Players can step in the non-volley zone as long as they do not hit the ball in the zone before the ball has bounced.
  • The ball MUST bounce once on each side before volleying the ball in the air otherwise it is a fault.
  • If the ball hits the net on the serve and goes into the appropriate service square it is considered a “let” and you play it over.
  • You always serve the ball diagonally across to the opposite square. For example, in figure 1, player 1 serves the ball to the green square marked D.
  • If the serve hits any lines except the front service line the ball is considered in play.
  • If the ball hits the front service line on the serve it is considered a fault.
  • If the opposing player or team makes a winning shot then it is either considered a side-out or the next persons serve. There are no points awarded.
  • If a player volleys a ball in the air without letting it bounce, their momentum cannot carry them into the NON-VOLLEY ZONE or it is considered a fault.
  • If the ball hits the top of the net and bounces in, then the ball is fair play.
  • After a point is earned, the player will move to the opposite serving square. For example, if player 1 earned the point serving from the A square s/he would then move to the B square and serve behind the baseline.
  • The player on the right side always serves first and then it goes in a clockwise rotation.
  • Pickleball paddles and pickleballs used in matches must conform to official USAPA regulations, including changes to rules 2.E.2, 2.D.1, 2.D.2, 2.D.3, 2.D.4, 2.D.5, 2.D.6 and 2.D.7 effective May 1st 2016.

Singles-Play Rules

  • All of the rules to the game above apply and some special notes.
  • Player 1 serves into the green square marked D. The player in “Position 4” returns the ball. If the player in “Position 4” makes a winning shot then it is considered a side out.
  • If the player in “Position 1” scores, he would then serve from behind the red box on the B side.
  • The game is usually played until 11.
  • If a player has an even number score, then they would serve from the right side of the court. If they have an odd number, they would serve from the left.

Doubles-Play Rules

  • All of the rules to the game above apply and some special notes.
  • On the first round of serves the team serving only gets on serve until the side-out. The next team gets two and the rest of the game is carried out with two serves per team.
  • The game goes until 11 normally and you must win by two.
  • Normal pickleball strategy since the ball must bounce once on each side before volleying is to have the 2nd player on the receiving end stand close to the NON-VOLLEY LINE to be closer to the net.

If all of that seems a little confusing, take a look at the video below to see how easy this sport is to play.  You will be up and running in no time, quite literally.


Court Dimensions

You can set up a  pickleball court just about anywhere.  Most high schools, colleges, community centers, athletic clubs, parks and apartment complexes have either basketball, volleyball or badminton courts.  These courts can easily be “taped” for pickleball.  You can even set up pickleball in your driveway or a dead-end street.  With a good portable pickleball equipment set of net posts you can set up pickle-ball just about anywhere.  For more info on nets, check out our review of the best pickleball nets.

pickleball court dimensions

The dimensions of a standard pickleball court

The Best Way to Learn is to Play

Pickleball if a really fun game to play and the rules are designed to not favour any single style of player but to keep the speed of the game to a level which is achievable by both the young and older alike.

It may, at first glance, seem complicated, but it is a very intuitive game, and I am sure that you will find you are picking it up in time.  Especially if you have played or followed tennis or badminton.

The best way to learn is to play, so don’t worry about the rules for now, just have a go!