How to Play Pickleball

July 20, 2023

How to Play Pickleball

An easy breakdown of the rules of pickleball

Are you ready to join the many people who have discovered how fun pickleball is within the last few years? From professional athletes to rec players, young and old. It’s a game for everyone. Whether you want to pick up a new hobby, start your own pickleball club, or need a refresh of the game, we’ve laid out all the pickleball rules for you so you’ll be ready to grab your favorite Mak pickleball paddle and hit the court with confidence.

Pickleball Court Dimensions

Have you been to your local park recently and noticed a new, smaller tennis court or some extra lines painted on the old tennis courts and wondered what the parks and rec department was up to? It’s probably not a kids’ court, but a pickleball court! (Though your kids are just as likely to enjoy it as you are).

Like a tennis court, pickleball courts are rectangular in shape, are split by a net in the middle, and have three large sections on either side. However, pickleball courts are much smaller than tennis courts. A regulation pickleball court is 20 feet wide by 44 feet long. The net is also shorter, coming to 34 inches in the middle and 36 inches on the sides.

The other parts of the court are called the kitchen and the service courts. The kitchen is directly on either side of the net, extending 7 feet. Behind the kitchen are the service courts. Each side of the court has a left service court and a right service court, split down the center. The service courts are each 10 feet by 15 feet. 

An out of bounds area is also required, though there aren’t specific dimensions. Generally, you’ll need at least an additional 10 feet added to the length and four feet added to the width of your play area. To play like the pros, that should extend to a total of 20 additional feet to the length and 14 additional feet to the width.

How to Score in Pickleball

It might be confusing for new pickleball players, but once you get used to it, scoring in pickleball becomes second nature. You can only score when your team serves; receiving teams cannot score even if the serving team loses the volley. Pickleball team scores are called in three numbers. For example: 6-4-1. These numbers represent the server’s score, the returner’s score, and the serving team’s serving order. The serving order is important because each player has the chance to serve before the opposing team serves, with the exception of the very first serve. Pickleball games are typically played until either 11 or 15 with a minimum two-point lead. 

Pickleball Rules

Now that you know how to score, it’s time to learn how to play pickleball. The rules are simple, but at first glance it can seem like a lot. We have highlighted the rules you’ll need to know to get started below.

Two-Bounce Rule

The first pickleball rule is the two-bounce rule. This rule says that the serve has to bounce in the service court diagonal from the server, not in the kitchen or on the line, and the returning hit must also bounce before its hit. After these two bounces, play is open, and the ball no longer must bounce before it’s hit. 

Non-Volley Rule

The next rule to know is the non-volley rule. This rule determines where you can and cannot hit the ball from the air, not on a bounce. Remember the kitchen? It is a non-volley zone, meaning you cannot stand in the kitchen or on the kitchen line to hit a ball from the air. But if the ball bounces in the kitchen, the rule is void. You can enter the kitchen – as long as you can handle the heat. 

Pickleball Faults

The last rules you’ll need to know about to play pickleball are called faults. Faults are regulations that stop play and turn control of the ball over to the opposing team. Faults include: hitting the ball into the net, the pickleball not making it over the net, letting the ball bounce twice, the pickleball hitting a permanent object (including the referee!), and stopping a live pickleball. 
These are just a few of the basics you need to know to play a great game of pickleball. You can find a complete list of pickleball rules and regulations in the Official USA Pickleball Rulebook. In the meantime, check out our Mak Pickleball Paddles and the patented Paddle Q® to revolutionize your pickleball game!

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