Pickleball, like other sports, has a few unique rules. 5 basic rules specific to pickleball are the double bounce, when to stay out of the Non-Volley Zone, where to serve the ball, how to serve the ball, and how to keep score and rotate.
While there are many different rules in pickleball, the following are important to know as a beginner before venturing on the court.
There are two different ways to serve that are considered legal in pickleball – a volley or drop serve.
The volley serve is a serve that a player hits without letting the ball bounce before striking it. In order for the serve to be considered legal, the server’s arm must be moving in an upward motion at the time the ball is struck. Contact with the ball must be made below the waist.
With the drop serve, a player can simply drop the ball, without propelling it upward or downward, and hit the serve after it bounces.
A player only gets one attempt to serve.
Serve Within the Boundaries
A serve must be made diagonally across the court and land within the diagonal service court on the opposite side.
The server needs to be positioned behind the baseline when serving.
The served ball must go past the Non-Volley Zone (kitchen) line. If it touches the line, it is considered a fault. However, if the ball touches any other line, it is considered playable.
After the serve, both the serving team and the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning it. After the two bounces, the ball can be volleyed (hit in the air) or played off a bounce.
This rule ensures that there is an opportunity for both teams to play a groundstroke before volleying.
Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen)
The Non-Volley Zone is the 7-foot area located on each side of the net. It’s also known as the kitchen.
Players cannot volley the ball (hit it in the air without it bouncing) while standing within this zone. However, they can enter the zone/kitchen to play a ball that has already bounced.
Hence the term you often hear in pickleball – “stay out of the kitchen!”
Scoring and Rotation
There are two different ways to score when playing pickleball – traditional and rally. When playing recreationally, traditional scoring is most often used. Rally scoring is typically used in a team format or to speed up a game.
In traditional scoring, points are scored only by the serving team, and games are usually played to 11 or 15 points, with a two-point advantage required to win. The score must be called out before serving.
When a player wins a point, they rotate sides with their partner. For example, if they won the point when serving on the right side, they serve their next ball from the left side. Players do not rotate if they did not win a point.
Each person on a team has a chance to serve before the ball is given to their opponent.
Basic Rules of Pickleball
Once you’ve played a few games, these rules will become easy to remember. Until you become comfortable with them, other players on the court should be able to help you during a game.
There you have it! These are 5 basic pickleball rules, but there are additional rules and nuances to the game. Click here for more information on pickleball rules, or visit the USA Pickleball Association. In the meantime, this will get you started so you can hop on the court as a beginner.
FAQs: Basic Rules for Beginners
What are the 5 rules of pickleball?
5 rules of pickleball are the double bounce, when to stay out of the Non-Volley Zone, where to serve the ball, how to serve the ball legally, and how to keep score and rotate.
What is the double bounce rule in pickleball?
After a player serves, both the serving team and the receiving team must let the ball bounce once on their side before returning it. After the ball bounces once on both sides, the ball can be volleyed or played off a bounce for the remainder of the game.
Can you step into the kitchen in pickleball?
Players can step into the kitchen whenever they want. However, they cannot volley the ball (hit it in the air without it bouncing) while standing in the kitchen. In addition, they cannot let momentum take them into the kitchen after hitting a ball out of the air.
Can you serve the ball in the kitchen in pickleball?
You cannot serve the ball in the kitchen. The served ball must go past the kitchen line into the service court. If it touches the line, it is considered a fault.
What is an illegal serve in pickleball?
An illegal serve is one in which contact with the ball was made above the server’s waist. Also, an illegal serve is one that was not done underhand.