The Rules of Pickleball: A Friendly and Social Game


Pickleball is a popular paddle game that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Played with a wiffleball and a paddle over a tennis-type net on a badminton-sized court, pickleball has been gaining traction among players of all ages and skill levels. In this article, we will delve into the general rules of pickleball and discuss the importance of sportsmanship and proper conduct on the court.

The Game of Pickleball

Pickleball is a relatively simple game, with only the serving team being able to score points. Points are earned by legally serving a ball that is not returned by the opponent or by winning the rally. Games are typically played to 11 points, with a winning margin of 2. However, alternative formats can be used as per the guidelines of the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).

The Serve

When it comes to serving in pickleball, certain rules must be followed. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke, contacting the ball below waist level. The server must also have at least one foot on the court surface behind the baseline at the time of the strike. If the serve hits the net and lands within the service court, it is called a “let” and allows for another serve attempt. Additionally, if a let serve hits the partner of the person receiving the serve, the serve is replayed as a let.

Bounce Rule and Service Sequence

One important rule in pickleball is the two-bounce rule. After the serve, both sides must allow the ball to bounce before playing a groundstroke. Once the initial groundstrokes have been played, volleys are permitted. In terms of the service sequence, the game always starts with one person serving, with the server positioned on the right-hand court. The server serves crosscourt to the backcourt diagonally opposite and beyond the non-volley zone line. The score is called out by the server, indicating the points for each team and the serving order.

Non-Volley Zone and Faults

The non-volley zone (NVZ) is an important area on the court, bounded by the sidelines, the NVZ line, and the net. It is considered a fault if a player’s clothing or paddle touches the court within the NVZ while volleying the ball. However, it is not a fault if the player steps into the NVZ when hitting a ball that has already bounced. Other faults, such as foot faults, touching the net or post, or ball touching player or clothing, can be called by either team.

Sportsmanship and Conduct

While understanding and following the rules of pickleball is crucial for a fair and enjoyable game, it is equally important to maintain a code of ethical and proper manners on the court. Pickleball is a friendly and social game, and players are expected to exhibit good sportsmanship at all times. Swearing, shouting, and fighting are strictly prohibited, and players who feel threatened or abused by another player are encouraged to report the incident to the appropriate authorities. Additionally, deliberate damage to the sportscourt area is not tolerated and offenders will be held liable for the damages.


Pickleball is a thrilling and inclusive game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. By understanding and following the rules of the game, players can experience an exciting and fair competition. However, it is equally important to remember the values of sportsmanship, respect, and proper conduct on and off the court. Let pickleball be a game that brings people together, fostering friendships and a positive community.

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