Introduction to Playing 2017-05-10T08:33:11+00:00

Introduction to Playing

  • What is Pickleball?

  • Non-Volley Zone

  • Double Bounce Rule

  • Fault List

  • The Serve

  • Service Sequence and Player Positioning (Doubles Play)

  • Score Keeping (Doubles Play)

  • Service Sequence and Player Positioning (Singles Play)

  • Calling Lines

  • Additional Rules

  • Match Format for Tournaments

  • Match Format for Consolation Events or when Time/Space is Limited

What is Pickleball?

  • Pickleball is a paddle sport played with a special perforated, plastic, slow moving ball over a tennis-type net on a badminton-sized court.
  • Each player has a paddle that is larger than a ping pong paddle and smaller than a paddle used for platform tennis (known as “pádel” in Spain).
  • The ball is served underhand, swinging the paddle below the waist in an upward motion, without bouncing the ball off the court.
  • A game is played to eleven points and a team must win by two points.
  • Points are scored by the serving side only and occur when the opponent faults (see Fault List below).

Non-Volley Zone

  • To volley means to hit the ball in the air without first letting it bounce.
  • The non-volley zone is an area that extends 2.13m on both sides of the net.
  • Volleying is not permitted within the non-volley zone. This rule creates longer rallies by preventing players from executing smashes from a position within the zone.
  • When volleying the ball, the player may not step on or over the non-volley zone line.
  • It is a fault if the player’s momentum causes the player or anything the player is wearing or carrying to touch the non-volley zone. It is a fault even if the ball is declared dead before the player touches the zone.
  • It is not a fault if the player steps into the zone when hitting a ball that has already bounced.
  • A player is allowed to jump across the non-volley line and land out-of-bounds after hitting a volley as long as they do not touch any part of the non-volley zone.
  • Playing on Badminton courts: In the case of indoor play when existing badminton courts are being used, the non-volley zone line is 1.98m instead of 2.13m. This is acceptable. All other rules apply.

Double Bounce Rule

  • Each team must play its first shot off the bounce. In other words, the first receiving team must let the served-ball bounce, and the serving team must let the return of serve bounce before playing it.
  • After the two bounces have occurred, the ball can either be volleyed or played off the bounce.

Fault List

  • The main causes of the faults are:
    • Serving the ball into an incorrect area.
    • Volleying the ball before it has bounced once on each side (double-bounce rule).
    • Hitting the ball into the net.
    • Touching the net with your paddle or body.
    • Volleying the ball while in the non-volley zone.
    • Stepping on or over the non-volley zone line during or after a volley.
    • Touching the non-volley zone with your paddle or clothes during or after a volley.
    • Missing the ball when you try to hit it.
    • Allowing the ball to bounce twice on your side of the court.
    • Swinging and missing the ball as you attempt to serve.
    • Allowing the ball to hit any part of your clothing or body (except for the hand which is considered an extension of the paddle).

The Serve

  • The serve is made underhand. The paddle must contact the ball below the waist. The ball must be struck before it hits the court surface. Underhand defined: The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head must be below the wrist when it strikes the ball.
  • The ball may not be bounced and then struck.
  • The server must keep both feet behind the baseline during the serve with at least one foot on the ground at the time the ball is struck. The serve must be made while the server’s feet are within the serving court confines (the “confines” are the baseline and the imaginary lines extending from the centerline and the sideline).
  • The server’s partner has no such restrictions and is free to establish position anywhere on or off the court.
  • The serve is made diagonally into the service court opposite of the serving player. It must clear the net and the non-volley zone. Serves landing on any service court line (baseline, service center line and sideline) are good. Serves landing on the non-volley zone line are faults.
  • Only one serve attempt is allowed, except in the event of a let (a “let” occurs when the ball touches the net on the serve and lands in the proper service court). Let serves are replayed. There is no limit to the number of times a let can occur.

Service Sequence and Player Positioning (Doubles Play)

Service Sequence:

  • It is helpful to think of each time your team gets the ball to serve as a sequence.
  • At the start of each new game, only one player on the first serving team is permitted to serve and fault before giving up the ball to the opponents. In other words, only one player serves in the “first sequence”. Thereafter both members of each team will serve and fault in each sequence before the ball is turned over to the opposing team.

Player Positioning:

  • The service always starts in the right-hand side of the court and alternates from the right-hand side to the left-hand side as long as the server holds the serve.
  • Each player will continue to serve until that player does not win a point.
  • When a point is not won by the team’s first server (either by faulting on a serve or losing a rally) the team’s second server must serve from whatever side of the court he/she is located.
  • Only the player served to (diagonally opposite the server) may receive and return the serve. Should the ball touch or be struck by the receiver’s partner, it is a fault and the serving side scores a point.
  • Serving team members will rotate positions after scoring each point.
  • The receiving team does not alternate positions.
  • To determine which team serves first, players may either toss a coin or rally the ball until a fault is made. The winner of the coin toss/rally has the option of serving or not serving first.

Score Keeping (Doubles Play)

  • A game is played to 11 points and a team must win by 2 points. If both sides are tied at 10 points, then play continues until one side wins by 2 points.
  • Only the serving team can score points.
  • Points are scored by serving a ball that is not returned by the opponent or by winning the rally.
  • Players must announce the score before serving for two reasons:
    1. You are letting the other team know you are ready to serve and they need to be ready.
    2. It helps everyone remember what the score is and thereby avoids arguments.
  • If the server fails to call the score before serving, the receiver of the serve has three options:
    1. They can let the serve go past without playing the ball.
    2. They can catch the ball and return it to the server.
    3. They can play the ball as if the score was called.
  • In the first two options there is no fault. The serve is considered a let serve and the server gets to serve again after properly calling the score.
  • Calling the Score:

    • The calling of the score consists of three numbers:
      • The first number is the score of your team.
      • The second number is the score of your opponent´s team.
      • The third number indicates what server you are (either “server one” or “server two” of your team during that serving sequence).

Service Sequence and Player Positioning (Singles Play)

  • All rules for doubles-play apply to singles-play with the following exception that has to do with serving:
    • In singles-play the server serves from the right side when his/her score is “0” or “even” and from the left side when his/her score is “odd”.

Calling Lines

  • Pickleball like most racquet sports relies on the integrity of the players in calling shots in or out.
  • Players should call the lines on their side of the net and opponents will do the same on their side.
  • Opponents should never make a call on the other side of the net unless they are asked.
  • If a team cannot decide on a line call, then the benefit always goes to the opponent.
  • If a team asks for an opinion from the opponent, that decision is final.
  • • Stepping in the Non-Volley Zone (NVZ): You and your partner must discipline yourselves to look down at your feet throughout rallies played near the NVZ and to call faults on yourselves. Although your opponent’s opinion is always considered, the opponent cannot call faults on the other side of the net. Therefore, all NVZ faults can only be called by the offending player or his/her partner.

Additional Rules

  • Hand hitting the ball: Balls hit by the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle are legal. It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body.
  • Double (carry) hits: A ball hit during one continuous, single-direction stroke is legal, even though the ball may be unintentionally hit twice or “carried”.
  • Switching hands and two-handed shots: The paddle may be switched from hand to hand to hit the ball at any time. Two-handed shots are also legal.
  • Reaching over the net: If the ball bounces onto your side of the court and spins back over the net, you may reach over the net (i.e., break the imaginary plane of the net) to hit the ball. It is considered a legal return as long as neither you nor your paddle touches the net.
  • Net support post: Any ball hitting the post holding the net is declared a dead ball (fault) immediately.
  • Catching the ball: It is a fault to catch the ball before it bounces, even if you claim it was going out. The ball must be allowed to bounce on the court surface without interference.
  • Ball hits a player: It is a fault if the ball hits a player or player’s clothing whether the player is inside or outside the court boundaries.
  • Hitting ball around the net: It is not a fault if a ball being played lands in the opponent’s court by traveling around the post and not passing directly over the net.

Match Format for Tournaments

  • In tournaments, a match will usually consist of the best 2 out of 3 games played to 11 points.
  • A game is finished when one player or team reaches 11 points and is leading by at least 2 points. If the score is tied at 10-10, then the game continues until one player or team wins by 2 points.
  • Rule Exception: Games are usually won by 2 points. In some situations, event directors may decide that games must only be won by 1 point in order to speed up play.
  • In a 15-point game, the players will switch sides after the first player or team gets to 8 points, and the game will then continue to its conclusion without switching sides again.

Match Format for Consolation Events or when Time/Space is Limited

  • Matches will consist of just 1 game to 15 points.
  • A game is finished when one player or team reaches 15 points and is leading by at least 2 points. If the score is tied at 15-15, then the game continues until one player or team wins by 2 points.
  • Rule Exception: Games are usually won by 2 points. In some situations, event directors may decide that games must only be won by 1 point in order to speed up play.
  • In a 15-point game, players should switch sides after one team gets to 8 points, and the game will then continue to its conclusion without switching sides again.