Mastering the Basics: Essential Pickleball Rules Every Player Should Know

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, blending elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Whether you're new to the game or looking to refine your understanding, knowing the basic rules is crucial for success on the court. Let's dive into the essential rules of pickleball that every player should know.

1. The Court and Equipment

Court Dimensions

  • A pickleball court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, similar to a doubles badminton court.
  • The net is hung at 36 inches on the ends and 34 inches in the middle.


  • Paddle: Pickleball paddles are smaller than tennis rackets but larger than ping-pong paddles.
  • Ball: The ball is a perforated plastic ball, similar to a wiffle ball.

2. Basic Game Play


  • The serve must be made underhand with the paddle below the waist.
  • Serve diagonally to the opposite service court.
  • The server must keep both feet behind the back line until after the ball is struck.
  • The ball must land in the opposite diagonal court.

The Two-Bounce Rule

  • The ball must bounce once on each side before volleys are allowed.
  • This promotes longer rallies and reduces the advantage of serving.


  • Only the serving team can score points.
  • A standard game is played to 11 points, and a team must win by 2 points.
  • Matches can be played as singles or doubles.

3. Double Bounce and Non-Volley Zone

Double Bounce Rule

  • After the serve, the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning, and then the serving team must let it bounce once before returning. This ensures fair play and extended rallies.

Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen)

  • The non-volley zone extends 7 feet from the net on both sides.
  • Players cannot volley (hit the ball in the air without a bounce) while standing in this zone.
  • Players can enter the non-volley zone to play a ball that has bounced.

4. Faults

Common Faults

  • Hitting the ball out of bounds.
  • Not clearing the net.
  • Stepping into the non-volley zone and volleying the ball.
  • Violating the double bounce rule.

Faults on the Serve

  • Ball lands in the wrong service court.
  • Ball touches the net on the serve and lands in the wrong service court.
  • Server steps on or over the baseline.

5. Strategy and Sportsmanship


  • Positioning: Stay alert and ready to move. Proper positioning can give you a significant advantage.
  • Communication: If playing doubles, communicate with your partner to cover the court effectively.


  • Pickleball is known for its friendly and inclusive nature. Always play with respect and integrity.
  • Call faults and line calls honestly, and respect your opponent's calls.


Understanding these basic pickleball rules will help you enjoy the game and improve your performance. Whether you're playing for fun or competition, mastering these rules is the first step toward becoming a skilled pickleball player. So, grab your paddle, hit the court, and enjoy the exciting world of pickleball!