Pickleball Terms You Need to Know

September 6, 2023

Pickleball Terms You Need to Know

From Volley to Erne and Everything in Between

Pickleball may be a newer sport, but it has a very distinct culture – including its own terminology. We’ve laid out the most common pickleball terms and their definitions so you can stop wondering what the kitchen is in pickleball and start bringing the heat.


The serve every player aims for. An ace is a serve that your opponent doesn’t return, winning you a point.

ATP shot

An Around the post (ATP) shot is a legal trick shot that players use to save a ball that landed on the edge of the court by hitting it low around the post to the other side.

Bounce It

Court talk from one partner to the other to signal to let the ball go because you think it will land out of bounds.


Defensive shot with a low paddle and wide stance. The goal of a dig is to send the ball back to the kitchen as an unattackable ball.


A live ball. Your shot has bounced once inbounds.


A soft shot that lands in your opponent’s kitchen.

Down the Line

The pickleball is hit close and parallel to the sideline.


Named after Erne Perry, this advanced pickleball shot occurs when you hit the pickleball in the air as you jump over the corner of the kitchen. It is also considered an erne when you run around the non-volley zone and hit the ball with both feet out of bounds next to the kitchen.


A bad shot that falls short because you didn’t hit it with enough power.


Any action that stops play due to a rule violation. Typically your partner will get the second serve or your opponent will get the serve (Side Out) after a fault.


A pickleball shot that must bounce before being hit, like the serve or return of a serve.


The non-volley zone directly on either side of the net. If you step in the kitchen to return a shot, the ball has to have bounced first. You can hit a ball out of the air above the kitchen if you are standing outside the non-volley zone.


A serve that hits the net. Let serves are legal in the USA Pickleball rules as long as the ball clears the kitchen line, in some leagues, like DUPR, let serves are replayed.


A return shot that launches the ball high and deep on the court, forcing your opponent backwards to the baseline.


Pickled is the equivalent of being skunked. When you lose a game not having scored any points.


When you cross over into your partner’s side of the court to hit a shot while playing doubles.

Put away

A good shot without a chance of being returned.

Punch shot

A quick jab of a shot with little backswing and follow through.


Continuous play from the time the ball is served until a fault occurs stopping play.


Any rally that is played again without awarding a point or a side out.


A strategy where you move in tandem with your partner, moving laterally toward or away from the net.

Side out

When the serve moves from one player or team to the other due to a fault.


A shot where you hit the ball above your head, also called an overhead.


When a player’s strategy is to continuously play on one side of the court in doubles. Players must serve or return from the correct position but then quickly move to their preferred court side. This is most common when there is a right and left handed team and in mixed doubles.

Transition Zone

The area between the baseline and the kitchen.

Unattackable Ball

A good drop shot or dink that doesn’t bounce high enough to be attacked (hit hard).


When you hit the ball in the air during a rally before the ball bounces.

Volley llama

When you illegally hit the ball while stepping in the kitchen, resulting in a fault.

Now that you know the lingo, it’s time to learn how to play pickleball!

You May Also be Interested in: