Exploring the Unique Rules of Pickleball


Pickleball, with its combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, stands out in the world of racket and paddle sports. Its unique set of rules and regulations sets it apart, making it both easy to learn and hard to master. If you’re new to pickleball, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these rules to enhance your enjoyment and competitiveness. In this article, we will explore ten simple rules that every first-time player should know. We’ll divide these rules into three categories: serving rules, gameplay rules, and scoring rules.

Serving Rules of Pickleball

The serve is the starting point of every pickleball point. In this section, we will discuss two important serving rules.

Rule 1: Volley Serves Must Be Underhand

In pickleball, the most common serving style is the volley serve, where the ball is struck while it’s in the air. It’s important to note that the volley serve must be underhand. While drop-serving is another legal serve, the underhand volley serve is the preferred method. To execute a proper underhand volley serve, you must strike the ball with your paddle below your waist, in an upward arc motion, ensuring that the highest part of the paddle head is below your wrist. Additionally, the serve must be delivered diagonally to your opponent’s side, staying within the boundaries of the court and avoiding the non-volley zone or kitchen.

Rule 2: Calling the Score

Before each point, the serving player is required to state the score. In singles, you announce your score first, followed by the receiver’s score. In doubles, you announce your score first, then the receiver’s score, and finally a third number indicating if you’re the first or second server on your team. It’s important to understand the third set of numbers in doubles, where each team member is assigned a number (1 or 2) to determine their serving order. By efficiently calling out the score, you can maintain clarity during the game.

Gameplay Rules

Once the serve is established, players engage in rallies. Let’s explore two crucial rules that dictate gameplay.

Rule 5: Two-Bounce Rule

The two-bounce rule, also known as the double-bounce rule, governs gameplay after the serve. It states that the receiving team must allow the ball to bounce once on their side before returning, and then the serving team, now receiving, must also let the ball bounce in their service court before returning it. This rule ensures that the ball bounces twice before any volleys take place.

Rule 6: No Volleys in the Kitchen

The non-volley zone, also called the kitchen, is a critical area in pickleball. It is located 7 feet from the net on both sides of the court. Players are prohibited from volleying the ball while touching the kitchen line or standing inside the kitchen, as this results in losing the rally. However, players are allowed to enter the kitchen during play as long as they let the ball bounce in the kitchen before hitting it back. This rule ensures fair play and prevents players from dominating the game by exploiting the kitchen zone.

Scoring Rules

Scoring in pickleball has its unique nuances. Let’s discuss the two key scoring rules.

Rule 8: Scoring a Point

In pickleball, only the team that served can score a point. Winning a rally while serving results in a point for your team, whereas winning a rally while not serving progresses the rotation of the serve. This rule emphasizes the importance of serving well and maintaining control of the serve.

Rule 9: Winning Games and Matches

Unlike other racket and paddle sports, pickleball matches consist of a best two out of three games format. Each game is typically played to 11 points. However, there is a unique requirement for winning a game. To clinch victory, a team must have a 2-point advantage. Consequently, if the score reaches 10-10, the game continues until one team gains a 2-point lead. This adds an element of excitement and suspense to the game.


Pickleball offers a thrilling and accessible playing experience, and understanding its rules is essential for an enjoyable and competitive game. Whether it’s the underhand volley serve, the two-bounce rule, or the requirement for a 2-point advantage, these rules contribute to the uniqueness and charm of pickleball. So, grab a paddle, familiarize yourself with the rules, and prepare for a memorable pickleball experience.

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