What is Pickleball

A paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for both experienced and recreational players.

The Basics
1.  A fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping - pong.
2.  Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.
3.  Played with a paddle and a plastic ball.

A Game for Everyone
The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) estimates there are now over 400,000 people actively playing pickleball.
  • Pickleball facilities are located in all 50 states.
  • Many kids and teenagers play it in physical education classes in middle and high schools.
  • Seniors enjoy the social aspects and the ability to stay active in parks and rec-centers as well as gated communities.
  • Former and current Tennis, racquetball and ping - pong players love the similarity and competitive nature of the sport.
  • Many seniors are regularly participating in competitive tournaments throughout the United States and many foreign countries.
Brief History
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, WA. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum -whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities are credited for creating game. Pickleball has evolved from original hand made equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada.

The Court
A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20×44 feet. In pickleball, the same court is used for both singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net (referred to as the “kitchen”). Courts can be constructed specifically for pickleball or they can be converted using existing tennis or badminton courts.

When playing pickleball, each player will need a pickleball paddle, which is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping - pong paddle. Originally, paddles were made only from wood, however today’s paddles have evolved dramatically and are primarily made of lightweight composite materials, including aluminum and graphite. Players will need a pickleball. The ball itself is unique, with 40 holes through it like a wiffleball and there are different ball models intended for indoor and outdoor play. The ball travels at 1/3 the speed of a tennis ball and is usually white, orange or yellow in color. New bright color balls are also gaining in popularity. Paddles and pickleballs are available in the Lakes Tennis shop.

Players wear just about anything comfortable… athletic shorts, sweatpants, polo shirts, t-shirts, etc. Tennis-style dresses and skirts for females are also common. Comfortable tennis shoes are also important. As for accessories, players may wear hats, visors, safety glasses, sweatbands and light jackets or sweatshirts for cold, outdoor play. Logo apparel items are always available in the Lakes Racquet Pro Shop.

Simplified Pickleball Rules
A complete set of rules may be obtained from the United States of America Pickleball Association on their web site (www.usapa.org). However, if you are just learning, you will find the following condensed rules much easier to follow.
If there is a conflict between this summary and the official rules, the official rules prevail.

Serving in Doubles
The serve must be hit underhand and each team must play their first shot off the bounce. After the ball has bounced once on each side, then both teams can either volley the ball in the air or play it off the bounce. This is called the “double bounce rule” because the ball must hit twice (once on each side) before it can be volleyed. This eliminates the serve and volley advantage and prolongs the rallies. To volley a ball means to hit it in the air without first letting it bounce.

Both players on the serving team are allowed to serve, and a team shall score points only when serving. A game is played to eleven points and a team must win by two points. Rallies are lost by failing to return the ball in bounds to the opponent’s court before the second bounce, or by stepping into the non-volley zone and volleying the ball. The hand is considered an extension of the paddle.  The player loses the rally if the ball hits any other part of his body or clothing.      In doubles, if the serve strikes the receiver’s partner, it is a point for the serving team, providing it is not a let serve or a fault serve. This rule also includes balls that appear to be hit out of bounds: during play, if you catch the ball or try to stop it from heading out of bounds, you lose the rally.

The server must keep both feet behind the baseline during the serve with at least one foot on the court surface at the time the ball is struck. The serve is made underhand. The paddle must contact the ball below the waist. The serve is made diagonally cross court and must clear the non-volley zone. The non-volley line is a short line for the serve (the serve is a fault if it hits the line).  All other lines are good at all times.  Only one serve attempt is allowed, except in the event of a let (the ball touches the net on the serve, and lands on the proper service court). Let serves are replayed. At the start of each new game, only one player on the first serving team is permitted to serve and fault before giving up the ball to the opponents. Thereafter both members of each team will serve and fault before the ball is turned over to the opposing team. When the receiving team wins the serve, the player in the right hand court will always serve first.

When the serving team wins a point, the server moves to the other side of the serving team’s court.  Note that if the serve rotation is done properly, the serving team’s score will always be even when the player that started the game on the right side is on the right side and odd when that player is on the left side.

Serving in Singles
In singles, the server will serve from the right when he has an even number of points (0, 2, 6, 10). The server should serve from the left when he has an odd number of points (1, 3, 7, 9). The receiver should adjust their position according to where the server stands.

Non-Volley Zone:
The non-volley zone is the 7-foot zone on both sides of the net.  No volleying is permitted within the non-volley zone.  This rule prevents players from executing smashes from a position within the zone.  When volleying the ball, the player may not step on or over the line.    It is a fault if the player’s momentum causes the player or anything the player is wearing or carrying to touch the non-volley zone.  It is a fault even if the ball is declared dead before the player touches the zone.   A player may not be in the non-volley zone at any other time.  The non-volley zone is sometimes referred to as the kitchen.

Double Bounce Rule:
Each team must play their first shot off the bounce. That is, the receiving team must let the serve bounce and the serving team must let the return of the serve bounce before playing it. After the two bounces have occurred, the ball can either be volleyed or played off the bounce.

The ball may only bounce once per side. After the ball is hit by a player, it must travel to the other side of the net.
If the ball hits one of the sidelines or the baseline, it is a playable ball. When a player or team fails to win the rally they are said to have made a fault. Some, but not all of the things that cause a fault are listed below:
  1. Serving the ball into an incorrect area.
  2. Hitting the ball out of bounds.
  3. Volleying the ball before it has bounced once on each side.
  4. Hitting the ball into the net or hitting the net with your paddle or body.
  5. Hitting the ball while in the non-volley zone before it is allowed to bounce.
  6. Touching the non-volley zone with your paddle or clothes while attempting to hit a volley.
  7. Stepping on or over the non-volley zone line on a follow through.
  8. Server swings the paddle with the intent of hitting the ball but misses.
Explanation of Pickleball Scoring
The following information applies to doubles scoring.
  • Points are scored only on the serve. The receiving side can not score a point. At the start of the game, the player on the right side serves. If a point is scored, the server moves to the left side and serves to the opposite court. Each time that a point is scored, the players on the serving side alternate from the right to left or left to right. That player continues to serve until the serve is lost by losing a rally. Players on the serving team do not alternate sides unless a point is scored. The receiving side never alternates sides.
  • When the receiving team wins a service turn, the player on the right serves first and continues to serve and alternates sides each time that a point is won. When the first server loses the serve, the serve goes to the second server on the side. When the second server loses the serve, the serve goes to the other team and the player on the right serves first. That pattern continues throughout the game.
  • Call the score in the order of server’s score, receiver’s score, then the server number. For example, if the score of the serving team is 3 and the score of the receiving team is 6, and the second server on the side is serving, the score would be announced as 3-6-2. Some players might say “first” or “second” for the server number, for example 3-6-second. Either way is correct. Note that the server number is for that service turn only. Whoever is on the right when the team gets the serve back is the first server for that service turn only. The next time that the team gets the serve back, it might be the other player that is on the right and is the first server for that service turn only. Beginning players often mistakenly assume that the player keeps the same server number throughout the game.
  • It is important to call the score including the server number prior to each serve. That helps the players to keep the server and the score straight. When you announce, as part of the score, that you are the first server, everyone on the court knows that when you lose the serve, the serve goes to your partner. When you announce that you are the second server, everyone knows that when you lose the serve, the serve goes to the other team. To minimize the advantage of being the first team to serve in the game, only one player gets a service turn on the first service turn of the game. To help everyone remember that the serve goes to the other side when that player loses the serve, it is customary to say that the player is the last server or second server. Therefore, at the start of the game, it is customary to say that the score is 0-0-2. The “2” means that the serve goes to the other side when the serve is lost.
  • At the start of each game, make a mental note of the first player that served first for each               side. If the rotation is done correctly, a team’s score will always be even when that player is                 on the right and odd when that player is on the left. As you call the score, use the player            position as a double check on whether you have the correct score.
The following information applies to singles scoring.
There is no second server. The serve is always done from the right side when the server’s score is even and from the left side when the server’s score is odd.