Pickleball Rules Every Beginner Should Know 

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You’ve got the right shoes, a moisture-wicking pickleball towel, pickleball visors, and you’ve purchased a pickleball paddle and balls. The problem is that you’re not entirely clear on the game’s rules yet. But we’re here to help! Today, we’re sharing some basic pickleball rules every beginner should know. From etiquette to scoring, we’ll ensure you’re ready to confidently step onto the court. 

The Basics of Pickleball 

To start, let’s define what pickleball is. Pickleball is a fun, fast, and wildly popular racket sport with elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. You can play it indoors and outdoors on a court about half the size of a traditional tennis court. 

Now, let’s get into some other things you should know about the game. 

Court Dimensions 

Pickleball is typically played on a rectangular court that’s 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. A net that’s hung at a height of 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches at the center divides the court into two equal halves. 

The size and dimensions of the court are important to know because they determine where you can hit the ball and how much space you have to move around. 

Serving and Scoring 

In the game of pickleball, the action always begins with a serve. To execute a serve, position yourself behind the baseline. The ball must be struck diagonally, soaring gracefully over the net and landing precisely into the opposite service box. Make sure your serve lands inbounds, skillfully avoiding any contact with the non-volley zone, also known as the “kitchen,”—we’ll tell you more about this later in this article.  

Following these guidelines will help you set the stage for an engaging and competitive pickleball match! 

Scoring in pickleball is a crucial aspect of the game, and it follows a straightforward yet strategic pattern. We will explore it in depth to help you fully grasp how scoring works. 

Rally Scoring 

Pickleball uses a particular scoring system known as “rally scoring.” This means points can be scored by both the serving and receiving teams, and the first team to reach 11 points (with a lead of at least two points) is the winers. If the game reaches 10-10, the match continues until one team gains a two-point advantage. 

Serving Rotations 

In pickleball, serving is the key to scoring points. As mentioned earlier, you can only score points when your team is serving.  

Here’s how the serving rotations work: 

Initial Serve: “0-0-2” 

When the game begins, the first server starts with a score of “0-0-2.” This means they have zero points, zero faults, and two serving chances. The “2” indicates they have two serves in a row, giving them a chance to take an early lead. 

Scoring 

When the serving pickleball team wins a rally, they earn a point and continue serving. For each point won, the server’s score increases by one, and they retain the right to serve. The “faults” count remains at zero as long as they don’t commit any serving faults. 

Changing Sides 

In pickleball, you alternate sides of the court with your partner after each point is scored. This ensures that the sun, wind, and other environmental factors affect both teams equally.  

So, let’s say you start serving from the right-hand side (called even court). After scoring a point, you will move to the left-hand side (known as odd court) to serve. This rotation keeps up throughout the game. 

Double Bounce Rule 

Remember, this rule is in effect during the serve. So, the ball must bounce on both sides of the net before players can start volleying. This adds an added dose of strategy and fair play to the game. 

Losing Serve 

If the serving team loses a rally, the serve switches to the opposing team. The receiving team then can score points and increase their score. 

Service Faults 

A serving fault occurs when the server makes an error, such as stepping on or over the baseline while serving, hitting the ball out of bounds, or failing to clear the net. If a fault is committed during a serve, the serving team loses their chance to serve. Then, the opposing team gets the opportunity to serve. The fault count increases by one. 

Transition from “0-0-2” 

The server’s score may increase as the game progresses, but the “faults” count should remain as low as possible. The first server has the initial advantage of “0-0-2” but must be cautious they don’t commit serving faults. If they win their first serve, they move to “0-0-1,” indicating one serving chance remaining. If they win the second serve? Then, they earn a point and score “1-0-0,” with two serving chances. 

To sum it up, pickleball’s serving rotation and scoring system are designed to give both teams an equal opportunity to score and enjoy the game. As you play more and gain experience, you’ll become more familiar with the nuances of scoring, serving, and how to strategically position yourself on the court to maximize your chances of winning points.  

Kitchen Rules 

The non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen, is the area near the net within seven feet on both sides. Players cannot volley (hitting the ball without bouncing) while standing inside this zone. You can enter the kitchen to play a pickleball bounced there, but you must exit before hitting a volley. 

Double Bounce Rule 

Pickleball has a double bounce rule to make the game fair and enjoyable for everyone. This means the ball must bounce once on each side of the net before pickleball players can start volleying. After that, volleys are allowed, but remember the kitchen rule! 

Faults and Fault Serve 

A fault is a violation of the rules, resulting in a point for the opposing team. Common faults include: 

  • Stepping into the kitchen while volleying 
  • Serving out-of-bounds 
  • Volleying before the double bounce 

If you commit a fault while serving, the other team gets a point and a chance to serve. 

Etiquette and Sportsmanship 

Knowing the rules is one thing, but the importance of sportsmanship and etiquette in pickleball cannot be overstated either. 

Respect Your Opponents 

Always be courteous and respectful to your opponents. Shake hands before and after the game, and keep a positive, upbeat attitude throughout the game, no matter what the score looks like! 

Call the Score Loudly 

Call out the score loudly before each serve, using the serving team’s score first to avoid confusion. For example, “0-0-2” means the serving team has zero points and two serving chances. 

Stay Out of the Kitchen 

Respect the kitchen rule and avoid entering it during play unless necessary. This helps make a more fair and fun game for everyone. 

Line Calls 

Honesty is key when it comes to line calls. If you’re unsure about a call, pickleball etiquette suggests you should give your opponents the benefit of the doubt. 

Keep the Game Moving 

Pickleball is known for its speedy pace. Prepare yourself for quick rallies and avoid unnecessary delays between points. 

Don’t Forget Your Pickleball Visor! 

Now, let’s talk about those stylish pickleball visors you’ve got. While they can shield your eyes from the sun and improve your visibility, ensure they don’t obstruct your view of the ball or interfere with your gameplay. Pickleball visors should enhance your experience, not hinder it. 

The Pickled Palm offers a variety of pickleball visors (and other pickleball apparel) specifically designed for optimal comfort and functionality. Check them out and find the perfect one to complete your gear! 

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