Pickleball, the rapidly growing racquet sport, has captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide. Merging elements from tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, pickleball is celebrated for its accessibility, making it suitable for players of all ages and skill levels. To excel in this engaging sport and enjoy it to the fullest, a thorough understanding of the rules and regulations is paramount. In this comprehensive guide, we will navigate through the fundamental and advanced rules of pickleball, enabling you to approach the court with confidence and enthusiasm.

The Fundamentals of Pickleball

Pickleball is commonly played on a rectangular court measuring 20 feet in width and 44 feet in length, featuring a net positioned at the midpoint. The court is evenly divided into two halves, one for each team. Pickleball is predominantly played as a doubles game, with each team comprising two players. Nevertheless, singles pickleball is also an option, where players cover the entire court individually.

Service Rules

  1. The Serve: A pickleball match kicks off with the serve. The serving team must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball diagonally to the opponent’s service court, which is positioned 20 feet away from the net. The serve should clear the net and land within the opponent’s service court. The serve must be executed underhand and delivered below the waist.

  2. Faults on the Serve: A fault is committed when the serve doesn’t land in the opponent’s service court, is struck too high, or fails to clear the net. The server continues to serve until a fault is committed.

  3. Non-Volley Zone (The Kitchen): Both sides of the net are demarcated by a seven-foot non-volley zone, commonly known as “the kitchen.” During the serve, the serving team’s player must remain behind this zone, and the receiving team’s players must not encroach into it. This rule ensures that players do not execute powerful shots from extremely close quarters, such as smashes or volleys.

Gameplay Rules

  1. Double Bounce Rule: After the serve, both teams must permit the ball to bounce once before attempting to volley it. This rule applies to the serve and the return of serve. Subsequent to the initial two bounces, players can volley the ball (strike it in the air) or play it off the bounce.

  2. Volleying: Players are allowed to volley the ball (hit it in the air without letting it bounce) from any point on the court. However, they must be cautious not to step into the non-volley zone before making their shot.

  3. Faults and Scoring: Points are earned when one team commits a fault, typically when the ball lands out of bounds, the serving team commits a fault, or the non-volley zone rule is violated. A standard pickleball game is played to 11 points, and a team must secure victory by at least a two-point margin. A typical match consists of two games, with a third game, if required, played to 15 points.

  4. Switching Sides: In games that extend to 11 points, teams switch sides once the first team reaches 6 points. In games that go to 15 points, teams switch sides when a team reaches 8 points.

  5. Serving Rotation: In doubles pickleball, only the serving team can score points. The server rotates, and if a point is scored, the server changes sides. This rotation continues until a fault is committed, at which point the opposing team takes over the serve.

  6. Let Serves: If the serve strikes the net and still lands in the correct service court, it is referred to as a “let.” The server is granted another opportunity to serve without incurring any penalty.

  7. Out-of-Bounds: The court boundaries are clearly delineated. If the ball lands outside these lines, it is considered out, and the opposing team is awarded the point.

  8. In-Out Calls: In the absence of referees, players are responsible for determining whether the ball is in or out. Pickleball places a strong emphasis on sportsmanship, and honesty and fair play are highly valued. In the event of a dispute, it is common to replay the point.

Advanced Rules

  1. Resets and Underhand Shots: Pickleball is renowned for its dinking and drop shots, executed with an underhand motion. These shots involve delicate touches over the net and are frequently employed to gain a positional advantage.

  2. Lob Shots: Lob shots, in which the ball is struck high and deep into the opponent’s court, can be used strategically to extricate oneself from a challenging situation or exert pressure on the opposing team.

  3. Ernie: The “Ernie” is an advanced maneuver where a player positions themselves far to the side of the court and quickly advances to the net to intercept an opponent’s shot, often resulting in a winning play.


Pickleball’s meteoric rise in popularity is a testament to its accessibility, engaging gameplay, and competitive spirit. To savor the excitement and excel in the sport, a firm grasp of the fundamental and advanced rules is indispensable. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, these rules form the foundation of fair play and sportsmanship in pickleball. So, grab your paddle, step onto the court, and enjoy the thrill of pickleball, all while adhering to these rules. In mastering these rules, you’ll unlock the true potential of this dynamic and captivating sport.