The Unique Rules of Pickleball: A Beginner’s Guide

A Game that Combines Tennis, Badminton, and Ping-Pong

Pickleball, with its unusual name and combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, comes with a unique set of rules and regulations. For first-time players, learning these rules is essential to ensure an enjoyable and competitive game. In this article, we will explore the 10 simple rules that every beginner should know before their first match.

1. Underhand Volley Serves

In pickleball, the most common serving style is the volley serve, where the ball is hit in an underhand motion. The other option is the drop serve, which is legal but not as commonly used.

2. Scoring in Doubles

Scoring in doubles involves three sets of numbers. In doubles, each team member is assigned a number: 1 for the first server and 2 for their partner. When serving, the first number denotes the serving team’s score, the second number denotes the opposing team’s score, and the third number identifies if you’re the first or second server on your team.

3. Alternating Serves

The serving rotation in doubles is more complex than in singles. In doubles, both members of a team serve before turning the ball over to the other team. The serving position alternates between right and left service court until a rally is lost. Each team’s first server changes after every side out.

4. First-Server Exception

To eliminate the advantage of serving first in a game, a rule called the first-server exception is applied. The team that serves first in a game has only one server, who announces themselves as the second server. This ensures that the end of their serve marks a side out instead of continuing to serve to their partner.

5. Two-Bounce Rule

The two-bounce rule, also known as the double-bounce rule, requires each team to allow the ball to bounce once on their side before returning it. This rule forces players to let the ball bounce twice, once on each side, before hitting it without touching the ground.

6. No Volleys in the Kitchen

The kitchen, also known as the non-volley zone or NVZ, is an area 7 feet from the net on either side of the court. Players are not allowed to volley the ball while touching the kitchen line or standing inside the kitchen. They must let the ball hit the ground inside the kitchen before hitting it back.

7. Three Common Ways to Lose a Rally

Rallies can be lost in three common ways: hitting out of bounds, allowing double bounces, and volleying in the kitchen. All three result in the loss of the rally and a side out or a point for the opposing team.

8. Scoring a Point

Only the team that served can score a point. Winning in pickleball is about maintaining control of serving longer than your opponent and forcing them to fault. When a rally is won by the serving team, they win the point and continue serving. If the rally is won by the receiving team, the serve rotates to the opposing team.

9. Winning Games and Matches

A pickleball match is won by the best 2 out of 3 games, usually played to 11 points. Unlike tennis, a game won’t end if the score reaches 10-10. A margin of 2 points is required to win a game, ensuring exciting overtime possibilities.

10. No Ties in Pickleball

Pickleball does not allow for ties. If a game is tied at 10-10, it continues until one team gains a 2-point advantage.

The Simplicity of the Game

Pickleball may appear complex at first glance, with its 10 rules, but they can be categorized into serving rules, gameplay rules, and scoring rules. Remembering these categories and their respective rules will make your first few games less confusing and more enjoyable.

Grab a Paddle and Start Playing

The great thing about pickleball is its accessibility. The rules are straightforward, and just about anyone can step on the court and start playing a full game in a matter of minutes. So, grab a paddle and enjoy the unique experience of pickleball!

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