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Pickleball Rules | How to Play Pickleball

What is Pickleball

Pickleball is a popular racquet sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It is played on a rectangular court, similar to a badminton court, with a net in the middle. The game is typically played as a doubles match, although singles play is also common.

The equipment used in pickleball includes a solid paddle, usually made of wood or composite materials, and a plastic ball with holes, similar to a wiffle ball. The objective of the game is to score points by hitting the ball over the net and into the opponent's side of the court, following specific rules and scoring patterns.

Pickleball is known for its relatively simple rules and quick learning curve, making it accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. It is played both indoors and outdoors and has gained popularity in recent years due to its social and recreational appeal. The sport emphasises agility, coordination, and strategy, making it a fun and engaging activity for players looking for a low-impact, yet competitive, sport..


The Basic Rules of Pickleball

While specific rules may vary slightly depending on the organisation or event, here are the basic rules of pickleball:


Pickleball is played on a doubles badminton sized court that measures 13.41 meters (44 feet) in length and 3.05 meters (20 feet) in width. The same court is used for both doubles and singles.


A net is placed in the center of the court, and its height is 36" at the side and 34" in the centre



Pickleball is usually played in doubles format, with two players on each team. Teams can be either all-male, all-female, or mixed.

There is a singles variant of the sport which is becoming more popular. It is played on the same sized court.


The scoring system seems to be the element of the sport that confuses people, but it's actually quite simple.

- the first team to score 11 points by 2 clear points win the set or the match depending on the format

- a team/player only scores points on their serve

- in doubles, apart from the first server of the match, each time the serve passes to the other team both players serve until they lose the point

- before the serve, the server must call the score

- the score is made up of 3 numbers. the serving teams score, the receiving teams score and the server number, 1 or 2. Example [ 6-3-2, which means the serving team have 6 points, the receiving team have 3 points and the next serve is being taken by server 2]. In singles the scoring is there same but there is no second server 

- each time the serving team wins a point they move across to the other serving box to take the next serve. Again serving diagonally across court. 

Server 1 continues to serve each point until losing a point. Server 2 then takes the serving role and continues to serve until the team lose a point. There is one exception on the first serve rotation of a match. In every first serve of a match the server is considered Server 2  and as such when the side lose a point it is side out and the serve role is passed to the opposing team. Therefore the score at the very start of a match is zero - zero - two (0-0-2).

5. Serve:

The server must serve underarm, and at the point the paddle makes contact with the ball the paddle must be below the waist and the wrist must be above the highest part of the paddle.

The first person to serve in a match serves from the right side of the court, from behind the baseline, and serve diagonally to the opposing court. The ball must clear the no volley zone, including the no volley zone lines.

There is no second serve and and no lets calls. So if the ball touches the net during the serve the point continues.

The first serve after each side out is played from the right, by the player on the right at side out.

6. Play:

The ball is played back and forth between the teams over the net until one team makes a fault.  

7.  Volleying

At the start of every point no team may volley the ball until after the 3rd shot. The serve is the first, the return is the second and the next shot by the serving team is the third, only after this third shot may the ball be volleyed.

At no time may the ball be volleyed if the player is inside the no-volley zone. This includes follwing through into the no volley zone after playing a volley.

5. Faults:

A fault is called when

- the ball is hit out of bounds

- the ball doesn't clear the net

- the ball lands in the no volley zone, or on any of the the no volley lines immediately following the serve

- the ball is volleyed from within the no volley zone

- a ball bounces twice before being hit 

- a player, their clothing, or the paddle touch the net or net post

- the ball hits a player or anything the player is carrying or wearing

- the ball hits any permanent object before bouncing on the court

- a player does not have at least one foot on the ground behind the baseline when they make contact with the ball at the serve

- either feet are grounded inside the baseline when they make contact with the ball at the serve

- serving overarm

- paddle contact with the ball at the serve is not below the waist

- the highest part of the paddle at the serve is not below the wrist

6. Winning:

The team that reaches the required number of games first (usually two sets) wins the match.


In order to play Pickleball, a few pieces of equipment are required as follows:

- The Pickleball Paddle is a unique element of the sport. They are a little bit like a table tennis bat but much bigger with a longer handle.

Typically made from wood, carbon, fibreglass and aluminium

- A Pickleball is a light plastic ball with holes in it. There are two types, an indoor ball and an outdoor ball. The holes in the outdoor ball are smaller, which helps reduce the effects the wind has on the ball.


It's essential to check the specific rules of the organisation or event you are participating in, as slight variations may exist. Picklball is a fun and dynamic sport that can be enjoyed by players of various skill levels, whether for leisure or competition.