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The Basics: How to Play Pickleball

Pickleball is easy to learn and easy to love! Like a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, two teams (singles or doubles) hit a pickleball back and forth over the net. First team to score 11 points (by at least 2) wins!

You’ll need: a court, two to four paddles, at least one pickleball, and a pal (or two or three!)

THE BASICS

SERVES: Every point begins with a serve. Serves are hit underhand from behind the baseline, and cross-court diagonally. If a serve hits the net, or lands in the Kitchen, it’s a fault and the serve moves to the next player.

RETURNING SERVES: The player returning the serve must let the ball bounce before hitting it back to the other team’s side. Keep up the rally until someone hits the ball out of bounds, into the net, or lets it bounce more than once.

SWITCHING SERVERS: When you lose a rally in Singles, the serve moves to the other team. When you lose a rally in Doubles, the serve moves first to your teammate until they lose a rally, and then to the other team.

DOUBLE BOUNCE RULE: This rule says the ball must bounce once on each team’s side before either team can start volleying the ball from the air.

STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN! Players cannot hit the ball out of the air while standing in The Kitchen. The "Kitchen" aka the "Non-Volley Zone" extends 7 feet from both sides of the net and from sideline to sideline. BUT, if the ball bounces in the kitchen, players can step in to hit the ball back.

SCORING: Pickleball is played to 11 points and the winner must win by 2. You can only win points when your team is serving. The server calls out the score before every serve to keep you on track.

FAULTS: In pickle-lingo, mistakes are called faults. Faults will shift the serve to the opposing team, or give the other team points, so do your best not to:

  • Hit the ball out of bounds
  • Hit the ball into the net
  • Hit a volley from inside The Kitchen
  • Hit a volley before the ball has bounced on each side (i.e. The Double Bounce Rule)

You can also find much more detailed rules here on the USA Pickleball page.