Basic Pickleball rules

  1. Define and point out parts of the court: court, playing surface, service court, baseline, centerline, sidelines, non-volley zone (NVZ -often referred to as the Kitchen, but officially NVZ), NVZ line, net, etc.
  2. Scoring: Game typically played to 11 points (games to 15 or 21 can be used in tournaments, leagues, ladders). Win by two points.
  3. Only the serving side can score points.
  4. The player positioned on the right-hand side of the court is always the first to serve when it is that team’s turn.
  5. Serves are to the diagonally opposite court between the “Kitchen” line and the baseline.
  6. The Double Bounce Rule: The serve and the service return must be allowed to bounce before the ball may be struck. That is, each side must play a groundstroke (can include a drop shot or lob) on the next shot following the serve. After the initial two groundstrokes have been completed, play may include volleys.
  7. Both members of the serving team should be positioned at the baseline when the ball is served (because of the Double Bounce Rule). The receiver is at the baseline diagonally opposite the server. The receiver’s partner is typically positioned just behind the “Kitchen” line in the non-receiving court, but may stand anywhere.
  8. In doubles, a team gets to serve until two faults are made by that team, except for the starting possession of the game, in which the serving team is permitted only one fault before the serve passes to the opposing team.
  9. Fault: any action that stops play due to a rule violation. [Note: The most common faults, such as hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds, failure to return a ball over the net into the court, short serve, etc. Discuss less common faults as they occur in practice].
  10. Service Rules: The server begins a rally by hitting the ball into the service area of the diagonally opposite court of the opponent.
    1. The serving area is defined as the area behind the baseline and on or between the imaginary lines extending rearward from the court centerline and each sideline.
    2. The ball may not be served off of a bounce. It typically is dropped (not tossed) from the non-paddle hand and struck with the paddle.
    3. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke (arm moving in an upward arc) so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (navel) and the paddle head is below the break of the wrist when it strikes the ball.
    4. Both feet must be behind the baseline at the beginning of the service motion (i.e., the backswing).
    5. At the time the ball is struck, at least one foot must be on the playing surface or ground behind the baseline and the server’s feet may not touch the playing surface in an area outside the confines of the serving area.
    6. Calling the Score: The score should be called loudly and clearly before every serve as three numbers. The proper sequence is: server score, receiver score, then, for doubles only, (server) 1 or 2. To start a match, the score will be called as: zero – zero – two.
    7. The serving motion must not start until the entire score has been called.
  11. Non-Volley Zone (“Kitchen”) Rules
    1. When volleying, a player or anything he/she is wearing or carrying, may not touch the “Kitchen” or the NVZ line.
    2. If, when volleying, the player’s momentum carries him/her or anything he/she is wearing or carrying into the “Kitchen”, it is a fault even if the ball is declared dead before the player or anything he/she is wearing or carrying touches the “Kitchen”.
    3. A player may be positioned inside the “Kitchen” to return balls after they bounce.
    4. If a player has touched the “Kitchen” for any reason, that player cannot volley the return until both feet have made contact with the playing surface completely outside the “Kitchen”.
    5. A player may stand inside the “Kitchen” any time when not volleying the ball.