Opinions on the Rules of Pickleball

Understanding the Game of Pickleball

Pickleball is a game that has gained immense popularity in recent years, and it is not difficult to see why. With its combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, along with its accessibility for players of all ages and skill levels, pickleball has become a beloved pastime for many. In order to ensure fair play and consistency across the board, the USA Pickleball Association has established rules that govern all play. These rules cover various aspects of the game, including the serve, service sequence, scoring, the double-bounce rule, the non-volley zone, line calls, faults, and determining the serving team.

The Serve and Service Sequence

One of the key elements of pickleball is the serve. Unlike in tennis, where the serve can be executed with power and speed, pickleball requires players to serve underhand. This serves to level the playing field and prevent any unfair advantage due to physical strength. The serve must be made below the server’s waist, and it must be initiated with at least one foot behind the baseline. Only one serve attempt is allowed, but let serves are allowed.

The service sequence in pickleball is an interesting aspect of the game. Both players on the serving doubles team have the opportunity to serve and score points until they commit a fault, except for the first service sequence of each new game. The first serve of each side-out is made from the right-hand court, and if a point is scored, the server switches sides and initiates the next serve from the left-hand court. The server continues switching back and forth until a fault is committed and the serve is lost. The partner then serves from their correct side of the court, and the second server continues serving until their team commits a fault and loses the serve to the opposing team.

The Scoring System

In pickleball, points can only be scored by the serving team. Games are played to 11 points, with a requirement of winning by 2 points. Each match consists of the best two out of three games, with game three being played to 5 points, also requiring a win by 2. The scoring system adds an element of competitiveness to the game while also ensuring that matches progress at a reasonable pace.

The Double-Bounce Rule and Non-Volley Zone

The double-bounce rule is a unique aspect of pickleball that sets it apart from other racket sports. When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning, and then the serving team must also let it bounce before returning, resulting in two bounces. This rule promotes longer rallies by eliminating the serve and volley advantage.

The non-volley zone, commonly referred to as “the kitchen,” is an area within 7 feet on both sides of the net where volleying is prohibited. This rule prevents players from executing smashes from a position within the zone and promotes fair play. It is essential to avoid stepping into the non-volley zone when volleying, as it constitutes a fault. However, players are allowed to be in the non-volley zone at any time other than when volleying a ball.

Faults and Line Calls

Faults can occur in various situations during a pickleball game. Some instances include a serve that does not land within the confines of the receiving court, hitting the ball into the net on the serve or any return, volleying the ball before it has bounced on each side, hitting the ball out of bounds, volleying from the non-volley zone, or letting the ball bounce twice before being struck by the receiver. Faults can result in a loss of serve or a point for the opposing team, depending on which team committed the fault.

Line calls play a crucial role in determining whether a ball is considered “in” or “out.” A serve that contacts any line except the non-volley zone line is considered “in,” while a serve contacting the non-volley zone line is deemed short and results in a fault. Line calls must be made accurately to ensure fair play and maintain the integrity of the game.

Determining the Serving Team

To ensure fairness at the start of a pickleball game, a coin toss is used to determine who will serve first. The winner of the coin toss then has the option to choose the side or to serve or receive. This method eliminates any potential advantage that may arise from choosing to serve or receive first.


Pickleball’s rules may seem straightforward at first, but they contribute significantly to the integrity and fairness of the game. These rules ensure that players of all skill levels and ages can enjoy pickleball while competing on an equal playing field. With its unique blend of racket sports and its inclusive nature, pickleball continues to gain popularity worldwide. So, grab your paddle, step onto the court, and experience the thrill of pickleball firsthand!

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