Pickleball Rules

When getting started with playing Pickleball, or any new sport in that matter, it is useful to be aware of some of the most basic rules in paper. As a beginner Pickleball player, there are some basic rules of Pickleball which must be well introduced to you before you get down in the court. If you want to familiarize yourself with the rules of pickleball, then go through our sound compilation of pickleball rules prepared for you.

Do not worry! The rules are not too intricate, nor too hard to follow. The game is simple and easy, which adds to reasons why it is so fun to play. So, buckle up and learn all the rules of pickleball and start playing right away!

You can also read: Useful Pickleball Drills

Pickleball: What is it?

Pickleball Rules

Photo by: YinYang

Before going into the rules, it might be handy to know how and where exactly the sport is played, a basic overview. Pickleball is played in a court which is same in size as that in badminton- 20’ x 44’. You have to carefully serve the ball diagonally, and only the sides which are serving the ball are allowed to score the point in that given time. 

The game of Pickleball was created so that all the members of the family can participate and hence it has pretty simple rules, most adapted from badminton, tennis, and ping pong. To start with, there are some key rules that you must acquaint yourself with before getting on the court.

Pickleball Rules: The Two Bounce Rule

Before you, as a player, can hit the ball in the air, or on the “volley”, you must allow the ball to bounce twice. This bounce needs to occur once on each side of the court. When you serve the ball, it will bounce in the receiver’s service court.

During this time, you wait for the ball to bounce again on your side and stay back as the serving team. You can only then move up and play the ball in the air.

This is an essential rule for providing rallies in the Pickleball game. In this rule, you must stay back in the service line and wait for the ball to bounce back. Though as beginners, it is hard to remember the rule, the coach or trainers need to constantly remind the teams to follow this.

Pickleball Rules: The Non-Volley Zone Fault

In the game of Pickleball, there is a rectangular zone called the Non- Volley Zone. It measures 7’ x 20 feet on both sides of the net. As we have already mentioned, Pickleball is a family game.

Hence, this zone was put in place so that when the ball is in the air, the player would stay away from the net. It helps to reduce the number of smashes or possible injuries that may occur towards the players in the opponent team. Once again, it assists in the long rallies.

If you are used to Tennis, this rule might feel a little bit difficult for you. 

A shot in the air is called a volley shot in pickleball. And when you make a volley shot, you can’t go to the NV-Zone, neither you can step into it.

Furthermore, if any sort of article (even jewellery or paddle) falls into the zone, it is considered a fault. 

However, it is imperative to know that this only applies while hitting the ball in the air. It means that you are allowed to stand in the area as long as you’re not making the volley shot or move into the NV-Zone. It will be considered a fault even after the ball is hit or missed by the opponent team.

This is a pretty useful rule because it can avoid smashes or injuring of opponents.

Pickleball Rules: Points

The game is played to a score of 11 and in order to win, you need to be 2 points higher than the opponent team. When playing a tournament, you can play this game to 15 or 21. You only get a point when you serve.

This is where Pickleball is different from Tennis or Badminton. The receiving team needs to get the side down; and get the serve back before it can start earning points. You will also earn point when the opponent team commits a fault.

Pickleball Rules: Scoring

This can be a bit confusing when you are just starting off in the game of Pickleball. As a first rule of etiquette, you must be aware that it is only the server who can announce the score.

The player who is standing in the right side of the service area of the serving side must always start. He or she is the server number 1 for this specific sequence. The following time they get the chance to serve; their partner standing on the right- hand side of the court will start and become the server number 1. 

The sequence that you need to follow to announce the score is as follows: the serving team will score first, the opponent team will score second, and then it is the turn for the server number.  If the server announces 3, 4, 1, and then the serving team has 3 points, the opponent team has 4 points and the server number who is serving is 1.

If the serving team gets a point, the score would eb 4, 4, 1. You must switch courts if you, the serving team, win points. The receiving team should maintain its position. 

You are only allowed to serve once. And when you commit a fault, you will lose your serve.

Pickleball Rules: Serving

When starting the game, the teams are allowed to decide to rally for serve playing the ball thrice over the net before it is in play. Usually, one team decides to start. When serving first, you only get one serve in the first time.

This is an instrumental rule because it can help to avoid one team having the upper hand in scoring too many points before the other team even gets the chance to start playing. As the server number 1, you must announce 0, 0, and 2. When the server switches to the other side, the team gets 2 serves and the game continues until a score of 11 is reached.

Furthermore, it is essential to know that you can only make contact with the ball below the waist level. The top of the paddle should be below the wrist and the server needs to have both the feet behind the service line when making the contact with the ball.

When a serve hits the net but lands in the service area, it is termed as a ‘let’ and is reserved. Before serving, you must ensure all the players are ready by taking a minute to check on both the teams. 

When you are receiving the serve but you or your partner is not ready, you simply need to hold up your hand or paddle.

Calling Lines

The game of pickleball strongly relies on the integrity of the players in calling the shots in or out. These calling lines have to be done honestly, according to the etiquette rules of the game. You must be fair.

Players must call the lines on their side of the net while the opponent team needs to do the same from their side. If a team cannot make up its mind on a line call, then the opponents will get the benefit. Furthermore, if you ask for an opinion from the opponent, that decision is regarded as final.


As a result of a fault, a point is earned or a serve is lost. A fault can occur when the ball hits short of service court during the serve. After the serve, if a player steps in the NV- zone or line, they commit a fault. If the ball hits the net or the pole, a fault occurs.

Hitting balls outside the boundary lines, or into a wrong court, it is considered a fault as well. To avoid fault, you must also allow the ball to bounce twice as well as avoid the ball from hitting any part of your clothing while standing on or off the court during a rally. You committing a fault equates to a point for your opponent. 

Final Words

Now that you are well aware of the most important and the basic rules of the game of Pickleball, get your family or friends together to try your hand in this sport, which, though similar to tennis and badminton, can feel much more inclusive and safer.

There sure are challenges to the game, like in many other sports, but most of the aforementioned Pickleball rules are pretty simple to comprehend and follow. With the right coach or instructor, and good practice, you can get rolling into the game fast and enjoy playing it either as doubles (two players per team) or singles. Hope our article was helpful to you!