How To Play Pickleball

Bill Taylor
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What is Pickleball?

A combination of tennis and badminton, pickleball was originally designed to serve as a fun sport for the physically challenged, but is now a widely popular competitive sport played by people of all ages.

The official pickleball court is 40 feet by 20 feet, but the sport can also be played on badminton courts and is typically played with a whiffle ball.

While there are several sports that can be modified to be played on a smaller surface, very few are suitable for play on a smaller surface without undermining the core gameplay. Others, like tennis and badminton, can be modified by shortening the length of the court. But some, like pickleball, benefit from the large court.

Pickleball is played by two teams of one or two players. Each player must allow one point to be scored by the opposing team per game. Different serves are used depending on whether there is one or two players on each team. Games are played to 11, with a 3 point advantage.

Due to its unique combination of skills required, easy accommodations for players who are physically disabled, and ease of play, Pickleball is on the rise as a popular sport. It already is the fastest growing sport in the nation, and it is only a matter of time before it is a household word.

Rules of Pickleball

The result of a marriage between badminton and lawn tennis, pickleball is booming in the U.S. now. Originally designed as a game played at retirement communities, it has grown in popularity for all ages and skill levels for several reasons. First, it uses just a plastic paddle and a whiffle ball, which makes it cheap and easy to play. And since it's a game that requires reflexes and communication, it's quite fun to play.

So, to introduce you to this sport, we've prepared brief rules of pickleball.

Rule 1

Pickleball can be played by four players (singles), two on two teams (doubles), or three ways (cutthroat).

Each player or team serves three times. The winner of the rally keeps the serve and the opposing side serves next. With each rally, the server rotates to the left. There are no further rotations after the opposing team wins the rally.

In doubles, each team serves two consecutive serves before passing the serve to the opposing side.

Rule 2

Serve & Stay Behind the Line

The second rule of pickleball states that the server must serve the ball behind the end line of the court. Also, while serving, the player must remain behind that line until the ball lands.

After making the serve, a player may move 1 foot forward until the ball lands. After the ball hits the ground, the player returns behind the end line immediately.

In pickleball, if an opponent hits your serve, the ball is dead. Once they hit it, it's considered dead. If your opponent misses it and the ball lands in the pickleball court, then the server makes a second serve. When the ball is hit, two points are scored. If a player or team scores with the first contact, then they get a point for the serve.

The server could win a point even while missing the ball. If their opponent misses the ball and the ball lands on their serve side, then the server wins a point.

Rule 3

Pickleball is a simple game, but there are rules that you need to agree on before beginning. Sometimes there is a person at the court who is unclear about what to do in a situation, or there may be two people who don’t agree on how to handle a situation.

It is best to figure out how you will handle a situation before the game begins. Having a set of rules will make the game run more smoothly. Avoid argument when playing by using a common set of rules.

While the rules in Pickleball can be vague, it is easy to find information about the game itself. Rules of Pickleball are relatively easy to understand and not that difficult to figure out. It goes without saying that the more you play, the more you understand the pickleball rules. The more you play pickleball, the better you will become at the game.

Rule 4

Serve overhand.

The first rule of pickleball is to play with a paddle and a wiffle ball. Tennis balls are allowed if no one has a wiffle ball. The term "wiffle ball" resounds with so many people, even though pickleball is similar to racquetball.

It is a paddle sport and is played the same as tennis, volleyball, and racquetball. It is played on a court with a regulation size of 20*40 feet. The term comes from its table tennis origin. Rules have been changed up a bit by the pickleball association. There is a difference between pickleball rules and table tennis rules. In tennis, it is where only one bounce allowed. In pickleball, the ball can bounce three times.

The major rule change, is a player must hit the ball overhand with one hand. No overhand hitting with both hands is allowed like tennis. You can use your forehand or backhand hand but must hit the ball overhand. It is played by two teams of one or two players on each team.

Rule 5

First priority must always be given to good sportsmanship and fair play.

Treat the game, equipment, and facilities with respect.

Players must play within their ability without herding.

Players must return balls and equipment promptly and put away equipment in the same condition as when borrowed.

Referees must keep out of sight and be heard only when necessary.

Rule 6

Return a Serve

Pickleball starts with serve and the easiest way to get the serve is to return one. By returning the serve you put the ball in the court and keeping it from going out. If you can't return a serve there is no point in even trying. Once you learn to return serves it will give you the confidence to go to the net to play and trying to return the serve.

In a sense, it's like saying, “Give me a ball and let's play.” So serving first and returning the returner's serve gets you the ball in play quickly. Servers are allowed 2 consecutive mistakes (without returning the serve), and if they cannot return the serve, they aren't allowed to serve again until the other player does.

If you can't return the serve, your opponent will quickly get ahead of you and you'll be chasing shots forever. And, once you have the server behind, you'll have them on the defensive more often and you'll get more easy returns. But, if they put the ball away, you'll have a hard time getting it back.


A fault is committed when a player’s actions are defined as illegal in the rules of play. This includes violations of the infringement line, where players are not allowed to cross the line which is marked by the pickleball.

Beginners Guide to Pickleball

How To Play Pickleball : Pickleball is a fun and exciting game that is played on a badminton sized court using a perforated plastic ball. The rules are extremely easy to understand and are geared towards beginners. Pickleball is a great way to get out and have fun with family and friends either on vacation or at home. This guide will explain all the basic rules for you to get started on your pickleball adventure. We'll start from the beginning and get you all of the information you need in a simple and easy to understand manner.

Equipment and Court

Pickleball is a game that combines some of the best aspects of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It's played in singles or doubles on a tennis court with paddles made of wood or graphite. The regulations are similar to those of tennis when it comes to scoring. Each side is allowed three points for a shot that crosses the net. A player who is double-faulted or commits any other service fault must serve again.

If the ball is hit out of bounds (into the net or out of either court), the point goes to the other side. However, if the ball hits the line, then the ball is merely continued in play. Ultimately, the object of the game is to score 21 points. When scored, you must win by two points.


When playing pickleball, you'll want to wear goggles, whether you are playing indoor or outdoor. Goggles are intended to prevent debris from getting into your eyes.


There are a variety of shoes available for play. For outdoor playing, cleats are preferred. They provide traction and are durable.

Indoor players can opt for indoor play shoes, or canvas shoes with rubber soles. Whichever shoes you choose, make sure they are lightweight, well-ventilated, and durable.

Why is it Named Pickleball?

The name pickleball can be traced back to a 1965 local pickleball tournament held at the VFW Club in Snohomish. From 1965 to 1978, the sport evolved from informal competitions to official club teams. Fourteen years later, it was recognized as a national sport by the U.S. Pickleball Association.

Today, if you're interested in playing pickleball, you don't have to travel to Snohomish or join a pickleball club to participate. You can play this sport almost anywhere, anytime.

Pickleball is played on a court that measures 20 feet long by 10 feet, separated by what's called the service zone. The ball is a bit larger than a ping pong ball and plastic or wood paddles are used to strike the ball.

There are 2 main types of paddle balls, laminate and composite. Composite paddles are made of plastic and graphite. Laminate paddles are made of a piece of wood laminated with plastic. Composite paddles are generally light weight to help players keep the ball in play, while laminate paddles are heavier and easier for players to keep a solid and consistent swing with.

Pickleball can be played as a singles game or doubles game. When played as a doubles game, teams can be male/female or same gender.

Where Can You Play Pickleball?

Pickleball was invented in the 1960s and hit the public’s radar as a substitute for tennis and ping-pong. It’s perfect for any age and skill level and today there are over 2 million players and 30,000 courts around the world. It’s a favorite of retirees and, since it’s indoor friendly, is perfect for rainy weather. Almost every college, school, and YMCA has a pickleball court.

Pickleball, like tennis, uses a freakishly-high-tech-mesh-glove that lets you pick up and hit the ball so it bounces off of the court walls, instead of flying over them. But unlike tennis, the pickleball court is a rectangle, not a circle, and uses a plastic wiffle ball and a rubber paddle with holes in it. The holes and the paddle help create a soft and spongy feeling that the other court sports don’t have.

Pickleball Strategies

Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of badminton and tennis. Invented in 1965 by physical education instructor, Joel Pritchard, Pickleball first gained popularity in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s. The rules for pickleball are relatively simple.

A single game is played to 21 points and the entire surface is the court. This allows for a fast-paced, rally game that can get very intense. Pickleball is all about getting the ball to the wall, and reading where the ball is going to bounce. It's important to have finger flexibility and to develop a really good forearm grip. These skills are important in pickleball because players swing the paddle like a pro tennis player, holding it between the fingers and wrist.

So far, pickleball has only been officially recognized as a sanctioned sport by the United States (since 2007), Canada (since 2004) and Bermuda (since 2007).

However, it is quickly becoming worldwide, with more and more people enjoying the sport. A game of pickleball can have a competitive edge to it. It is, after all, a sport and players often take winning seriously. However, pickleball also doubles as a social sport. There are pickleball leagues, tournaments, and even nationally ranked players.


Pickleball is such a great game to play because it is something that anyone can play. It is especially great because it can be played nearly anywhere.

This game has quickly grown in popularity over the last few years because it is so good to play. With very little required equipment and only one court needed, this game is perfect for anyone.

The only drawback for some may be that it is a very fast paced game. You have to have excellent eye-hand coordination to be able to play pickleball. So it may take a bit to get used to the speed of the game.

But with that being said, it will also be one of the best games you will ever play.