Pickleball Rules for Beginners

October 2023 • Emily Thompson

Ah, pickleball! This delightful blend of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong has completely captivated me, and I'm not alone. Its rising popularity stems from its engaging nature and the amazing community it builds. If you're new to the world of pickleball, getting a grip on the basic rules is essential. They're your ticket to not just playing the game but also loving every moment of it. Let's dive into these rules that make pickleball a sport unlike any other.

The Basics of Pickleball: Singles or Doubles Play

Whether it's a one-on-one challenge or a four-player match, pickleball caters to all. I personally adore doubles for its social aspect – it's how I've made some of my closest friends! Playing doubles is also a bit easier for beginners. There's less court to cover, and you have a partner to share the thrill (and the occasional mishit) with. This team spirit is something I cherish, much like Good Get's focus on community and togetherness.

Scoring in Pickleball: Only the Server Earns Points

This might seem a bit unusual at first, but only the serving team can score in pickleball. The game kicks off with the server on the right side, and they score points until a fault happens. Faults could be anything – a missed return, a foot fault, you name it. In doubles, play switches between partners after a fault. Once both have faulted, the serve goes to the other team. This keeps the game super strategic, as holding on to the serve becomes crucial.

Starting the Game: The Serve

The serve sets the tone of the game. It's usually decided by something like a coin toss. Remember, the serve is underhand, and you've got to be behind the baseline. It has to travel diagonally across the net. A serve landing in the non-volley zone, or the 'kitchen,' is a no-go. This rule makes the start of the game fair and demands a good serving strategy.

The Two-Bounce Rule: A Unique Twist

Pickleball has this cool rule called the two-bounce rule. After the serve, each side must let the ball bounce once before volleying it. This applies only to the start of a point. It's a game-changer, literally, as it adds a layer of strategy right from the get-go.

Volley Serves and Baseline Rules

Serves in pickleball have to be volleyed, meaning you hit the ball in the air, and it's got to be an underhand strike. Your paddle can't be higher than your waist when you hit the ball, and it shouldn't be above your wrist either. Plus, you need to serve from behind the baseline, preventing those overpowering serves.

The Ball Must Stay In Bounds

Just like in tennis or badminton, the ball needs to stay within the lines. Shots landing outside are out of bounds. This rule really ups your game in terms of precision and skill.

Game Points: 11, 15, or 21

Typically, a pickleball game goes to 11 points, and you need to win by at least 2 points. In more competitive scenarios, games might extend to 15 or 21 points, but that two-point win margin stays constant. It keeps the game thrilling and always leaves room for an epic comeback.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the height of the net in pickleball?

The height of the net in pickleball is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle.

How many players are on a pickleball court?

A pickleball court is designed for doubles play, which means there are four players on the court. However, it is also possible to play singles, with only two players.

Can a player volley the ball in pickleball?

In pickleball, players cannot volley the ball in the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen. However, they can volley the ball outside of the non-volley zone.

What is the 'kitchen' in pickleball and what are its rules?

The 'kitchen' refers to the non-volley zone, a 7-foot area on both sides of the net. Players cannot volley while in this zone to prevent smashes from too close to the net, ensuring strategic gameplay.

How do you determine who serves first in a pickleball game?

The first serve is determined by a coin toss or similar chance method, allowing the winner to choose to serve first or select a court side, ensuring a fair start.

Can you switch sides with your partner during a doubles game in pickleball?

Yes, players can switch sides with their partner between points in doubles games, using strategy to utilize each player's strengths or counter opponents' weaknesses, with consistent serve positions.


Understanding and applying these rules is your first step into the wonderful world of pickleball. Whether you're hitting the court for a friendly match or stepping up your game for competition, these rules ensure a fair, fun, and fantastic experience. Remember, pickleball is more than just rules. It's about the joy of the game, the competitive spirit, and being part of a vibrant community. So grab your paddle, step onto the court, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of pickleball. Trust me, it's an experience you'll cherish!