How to Play Pickleball – Your Quick Introduction

How to play pickleball - This page assumes that you are a complete novice and are starting at the beginning so let’s start at the very start with some common sense assumptions.

Ok, like any game you are going to need the tools of the trade if you are going to lean how to play pickelball. That includes of course a court to play on including a pickleball net which for your information here, the standard details on a net is that it is 36 inches high at the posts and 34 inches high in the centre. The side posts will be positioned 12 inches outside of the sidelines of the court. The net squares will be small enough to not allow a ball to pass through them.

Next you will need 1, 2 or 3 other players to play with. Pickleball is most often played in doubles however with two players a side or in singles with one player each side. It can also be played as American Doubles with one player on one side against two players on the other side.

Next of course is a pickleball paddle. A paddle is a little bit like a racquet with no strings and a handle that is a little bit bigger than a table tennis grip. The paddle face is about half the size of a tennis racquet.

Then come the balls. You need at least one (and more for convenience). A pickleball ball is a bit like a whiffle ball that is hollow and made of plastic or a rubber type plastic and has anywhere between 24 and 40 small round holes in it that are big enough to poke a pencil into. There are two main types of ball and they can be categorized principally as outdoor balls or indoor balls, however you can play with any ball indoors or outdoors.

Aside a rule book which takes care of the technical bits of how to play pickleball which I will go through briefly shortly, you need adequate footwear which for many is simply a sneaker or runner similar to a tennis, cross trainer or running shoe and you will need comfortable playing apparel including hat if you need sun or glare protection.

How to Play Pickleball 

How to Play Pickleball – a quick over view of the rules to get started

(Right Click Image and download a PDF of the Rules Booklet) 

Pickleball is a pretty simple game to play which is why it is probably so much fun to many people and the rules are pretty much straight forward.

The court is lined with 4 squares and has a [‘no volley zone’ that is affectionately called the kitchen marked with lines across the court 7 feet either side of the net. This area dictates that you cannot hit a ball out of the air on the full if you are standing in this area or on the line that defines it. You can only enter to hit a ball in this zone – (the kitchen) if it has bounced first. It means you lose the point if you enter the kitchen to hit a volley or your bodies momentum from a shot carries you into the kitchen irrespective if you hit a winning shot just prior.

If a ball lands on any outside court line it is considered in play. If a serve lands in or on the kitchen line however it is considered out and called a fault.

“Normal” pickleball games go to 11 points and winners need to win by two points. It means that if the score is 11/10, the game continues until the winner leads the score by 2- ie: 12/10 or 13/11 or 15/13 etc.

To start play you commence serve from the right side of the court and hit the ball diagonally to the left side of the court. 

How to Play Pickleball  - an anomaly explained 

First service - a confusing part of the game

The first anomaly of the rules is at the start of the game because at all times during the game until one side finally wins by 2 points, both players on each side with have a chance to serve EXCEPT for the first service of game play where only one player of the first serving side will serve.

Let me put that another way to de-confuse this confusion without confusing you more in learning how to play pickelball

The side that serves first will only have one server not two. When the point is lost the serve will go to the other side. Player one on that side will then serve until their serve is lost and then player two will serve. When that serve is lost the serve will return to the side that started serving and both players will then get to serve in the succession just explained above.

·         A serve must be underhanded and the ball must be hit out of the air from the hand – (no bounce) and struck below your belly button. The paddle shoulder must also be below your wrist. This would prevent a round armed or sideways horizontal serve.

·         Your feet must be inside the side lines and behind the baseline to serve. No part of your body maybe grounded inside the court until the ball is struck.

·         A ball must bounce twice after a serve before any player can volley it. (Hit the ball without bouncing). All players can then volley or hit the ball after one bounce however they choose.

·         You only score a wining point off of your service. When a server serves a fault or play from that serve is lost, serve moves to their partner in player two. When player two loses serve, play is moved to the other side to serve the described service and moves back and forth to each side until the game is won by a 2 point margin.

Pickleball scoring can be slightly confusing for the beginner learning how to play pickleball but a quick read here (or re-read) of how it is done will having you understanding it in no time.

How to Play Pickleball is one thing, playing is another and proves to be a game that appeals to all ages across all demographics. Get involved now and start experiencing the craze that is being enjoyed the world over.

It should be noted that your pickleball technique will either benefit you or hinder you. All sports have a correct technique and learning the correct technique in pickleball is vital to achieving maximum potential. Check out: Pickleball Technique – How Important Is It Anyway

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