How to Play Pickleball Rules, Scoring, Serving, and More

An In-Depth Pickleball Guide for Beginners

Pickleball is experiencing rapid growth and gaining popularity in America. This paddlesport combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong into a fun game for all ages and abilities.

If you’re new to pickleball, no worries! Our complete guide will teach you everything you need to know, from the basic rules to advanced strategies. Follow along as we break down how to play pickleball step-by-step:

Mastering Pickleball Rules: Your Ultimate Beginner’s Manual to Playing Pickleball

What You’ll Learn:

  • Pickleball Court Setup & Equipment
  • Rules of Pickleball
  • How to Serve in Pickleball
  • Double Bounce Rule Explained
  • Pickleball Scoring System
  • Playing Pickleball Singles vs. Doubles
  • Where to Stand on the Court
  • Pickleball Strategies for Beginners
  • How to locate nearby pickleball courts.

Let’s jump in and get you ready to play this addicting game!

Pickleball Court Setup & Equipment

Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court that’s 20 feet wide by 44 feet long. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines, and 34 inches in the center.

Here is how a regulation pickleball court is set up:

To play pickleball, you’ll need:

1. Pickleball paddles (one for each player)

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2. Pickleball balls (similar to a wiffle ball)

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3. A pickleball net system

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4. Proper footwear – court shoes or athletic sneakers

Most public pickleball courts will provide the nets. For paddles, balls, and shoes, you’ll need to bring your own gear.

Now let’s get into the rules!

Rules of Pickleball

Pickleball has a unique set of rules that blend aspects of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Here are the basic rules to follow:

Rule 1: The Serve Starts Each Point

In pickleball, one player starts the point by serving the ball diagonally across the court. The serve must be made underhand.

The Serve Starts Each Point
The Serve Starts Each Point

The serving area is located diagonally opposite the server, between the sidelines and baseline. The ball must clear the non-volley zone (kitchen) to be a legal serve.

Rule 2: Hit the Ball After One Bounce

After the serve, the ball must bounce once before players can hit a return. After the return, the serving team must let it bounce once before striking the ball.

Hit the Ball After One Bounce
Hit the Ball After One Bounce

Then the ball can be volleyed (hit out of the air). This is called the “double bounce” rule.

Rule 3: Don’t Volley From the Kitchen

The pickleball kitchen is the 7-foot non-volley zone on each side of the net. Players cannot volley a ball while standing inside the kitchen. You can enter the kitchen any time, but must let the ball bounce once before hitting.

Don't Volley From the Kitchen

Pickleball kitchen rules details

The “pickleball kitchen rules” apply in the sport of pickleball, a game that combines elements of table tennis, tennis, and badminton. The “kitchen” is a designated area located near the net on each pickleball court, with specific rules regarding standing and playing within this area. Here’s a brief description of valid scenarios and errors related to kitchen rules:

Valid Scenario:

  • Players are allowed to step into the kitchen area, but they must not place a foot into or step over the kitchen boundary line while hitting the ball.
  • If the ball is hit and only reaches the kitchen area, players are not restricted from entering and standing within the kitchen area after hitting the ball.

Error Scenario:

  • Foot fault: If a player steps into or touches the kitchen area during the act of hitting the ball, it is considered a fault, and the point will be awarded to the opposing team.
  • Volley in the kitchen: If a player hits the ball while in the kitchen area and the ball hasn’t touched the opponent’s court yet, this is also considered a fault.

In summary, the kitchen rules in pickleball emphasize preventing players in the kitchen area from performing actions that could affect fairness and executing shots within this region.

Please note that sports terminology can sometimes vary, so you may want to verify these terms with official sources or players familiar with the rules of the game.

Rule 4: Score Points Only on Serve

In pickleball, the serving team is the only team that can score points. They continue serving until they commit a fault. Then it’s a side-out and the other team gets to serve.

Rule 5: Win by Two

In order to win, you need to have a minimum of 11 points and also be leading by a margin of two points.

Rule 6: Call Shots In or Out

There are no referees in pickleball – players call balls in or out during play. The ball must clear the kitchen line and land inside both sidelines and baselines to be good.

Call Shots In or Out
Call Shots In or Out

And that covers the basic rules! Let’s keep going and break down more pickleball gameplay:

How to Serve in Pickleball

Serving starts every point in pickleball. Here are key rules and tips for serving:

  • Use an underhand stroke below your waist
  • Make contact with the ball so that it either goes up in the air or bounces once before hitting it again.
  • Serve diagonally into the service area
  • Keep both feet behind the baseline
  • Serve deep and low for an advantage
  • Add spin to throw off returns

Make sure your serve clears the kitchen line, then land inside the sidelines and baseline.

The Double Bounce Rule Explained

The double bounce rule states that after the serve, the ball must bounce once on each side before it can be struck in the air (volleyed).

This prevents the serving team from rushing the net and gaining an advantage.

Volleying is only allowed after the serve bounces once on the receiving side, and the return bounces once on the serving side.

Pickleball Scoring System

Keep track of the pickleball score by calling out these 3 numbers:

  1. Your team’s score
  2. Opponent’s score
  3. Who’s serving (1 or 2)

In games, the winner is the first player or team to reach 11 points and must have a lead of at least 2 points over their opponent.

On your serve, you can only score points. When you lose a rally, the serve switches to the other side.

This alternating service system continues throughout the game.

Pickleball Doubles vs. Singles

Doubles Pickleball

Most pickleball games are played with doubles (two players per team). In doubles:

  • Partners stand diagonally opposite each other
  • Both players get to serve in each service turn
  • Call out “Server 1” or “Server 2” with the score

Singles Pickleball

Singles is played with one person per side. For singles:

  • No “server 1 or 2” in scoring
  • The server’s score determines which side to serve from
  • Play alternates sides after each point

Follow all other rules and dimensions the same as doubles.

Where to Stand on a Pickleball Court

Positioning is an important pickleball strategy. Here are some key places to stand:

Serving Team

  • Server – Behind baseline
  • Partner – Start at baseline

Receiving Team

  • Returner – Behind baseline
  • Partner – At kitchen line ready to volley

After the return, the serving team should move up to the non-volley zone. The key is controlling the kitchen!

Pickleball Strategies for Beginners

As a beginner, focus on keeping the ball in play with control. Master the dink shot first – hitting soft shots that just clear the net.

More tips:

  • Move forward to volley at the kitchen line
  • Use groundstrokes to keep balls deep
  • Hit down the middle to force errors
  • Communicate with your partner

Have fun and don’t worry about speed or power early on. Just get the ball over the net!

How to Find Pickleball Courts Near You

Now that you know the rules, it’s time to start playing! Here are 3 ways to find pickleball courts:

  1. Search online for local parks with courts
  2. Check community recreation centers
  3. Visit tennis facilities – many now have pickleball

You can also use our pickleball court finder to locate courts in any area. Just enter your address and browse listings on the map!

The best way to improve is simply getting out on the court. Grab a paddle and start playing pickleball today!

Now You Know How to Play Pickleball!

Congratulations – you’ve learned the basics and are ready to start pickling.

Remember to keep these key rules and tips in mind:

  • Underhand serve to start
  • Let the ball bounce once on each side
  • Stay out of the kitchen zone when volleying
  • Only score points on your serve
  • First to 11 points, win by 2
  • Move up to control the net

Now get out there, practice your skills, and have fun playing this addicting game! See you on the pickleball court.


  1. Thank you. I just started learning last week. I love it. I took one of my friends this week. She likes it also. Good exercise.

    1. Welcome, can you give me the google map location of your stadium? Or pictures of the training ground. I’m working on “Pickleball playground locations near you”

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