Pickleball Doubles Rules: How to Play the Game in 2023

Play Pickleball Doubles it’s great

If you’re new to pickleball and have only played singles matches so far, it’s time to give doubles a try. Doubles pickleball is the most popular and widely enjoyed way of playing this exciting sport. Once you experience the thrill of doubles pickleball, you’ll understand why it has such a huge following.

Pickleball Doubles Rules

Doubles pickleball vs. singles pickleball

Doubles pickleball is quite different from singles pickleball in terms of gameplay and strategy. While singles pickleball is more focused on individual performance and agility, doubles pickleball leans towards teamwork and coordination. Doubles requires players to work together strategically, which adds an extra layer of excitement and complexity to the game.

Doubles pickleball vs. singles pickleball

The social aspect of doubles pickleball is also a huge draw. The friendly and inviting culture of pickleball shines through in doubles matches, making it a fantastic way to bond with friends and meet new people.

Difficulty of playing pickleball doubles

Many beginners might wonder if playing pickleball doubles is more challenging than playing singles. The answer is that doubles pickleball does require some adjustment, especially in terms of coordination with your partner. However, with a little practice and understanding of the rules and strategies, it can be just as enjoyable as singles pickleball, if not more so.

Learning to communicate and work as a team with your partner is a key aspect of doubles pickleball. As you gain experience playing doubles, you’ll not only improve your individual skills but also develop a strong partnership with your teammate.

The ‘Double Bounce Rule’ in pickleball

One of the unique rules in pickleball is the ‘Double Bounce Rule,’ which applies to both singles and doubles matches. According to this rule, the ball must bounce on both sides of the court before either team can volley it. This means that when the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning it. Similarly, the serving team must let the ball bounce after their first shot from the opposing team before they can volley it. This rule is often referred to as the ‘Double Bounce Rule’ due to the requirement for two bounces.

The 'Double Bounce Rule' in pickleball

Basic rules of doubles pickleball

To help beginners get started with doubles pickleball, it’s important to understand the basic rules of the game. These rules are similar to those of singles pickleball and focus on serving, scoring, and court positioning.

Serving rules:

  • Serve motion: A pickleball serve must be hit in a forehand or backhand motion. The serving player’s arm should move in an upward arc, with the face of the paddle angled upwards.
  • Contact point: The point where the paddle makes contact with the ball must be below the server’s waistline, specifically below the navel.
  • Paddle position: At the time of contact, the head of the paddle must be below the highest part of the server’s wrist.
  • Serving area: The serve must land in the service area diagonally opposite the server’s position. Similar to tennis, the serve is directed towards the opponent’s service box diagonally across from the server, not directly across.
  • Feet placement: At least one of the server’s feet must be touching the ground behind the baseline. Additionally, the server’s feet must be inside the imaginary extension of the sideline and centerline, behind the rectangle on the court.
  • Serve attempts: Only one serve attempt is allowed per server. If the serving team scores a point, they continue to serve. However, if they commit a fault or the opponent wins a rally, they lose their serve.

Drop serve in pickleball:

A variation on the traditional volley serve is the drop serve, which is becoming increasingly popular in pickleball. To perform a drop serve, the serving player drops the ball on the ground before hitting it on the bounce. Here are some additional rules for the drop serve:

  • The server can either drop the ball from one hand or roll it from the paddle face.
  • The ball can bounce anywhere, as long as the server’s feet are behind the baseline.
  • The ball must not be thrown down forcefully or tossed into the air before hitting the ground.

Scoring in doubles pickleball:

In a game of doubles pickleball, the scoring is made up of three numbers, such as 0-2-1 or 6-3-2. Understanding the scoring system is essential for keeping track of the game. Here’s what each number signifies:

  • First number: The serving team’s score
  • Second number: The receiving team’s score
  • Third number: The server number, which can be 1 or 2

Only the serving team can score points. If the serving team loses the rally, it results in a side out, and the opposing team gets the chance to serve. The server’s loss of serve occurs when their team commits a fault.

Starting positions and strategies for doubles pickleball

Knowing the proper starting positions and strategies is crucial for an effective game of doubles pickleball. The right positioning can give you a strategic advantage over the opposing team. Here are the common starting positions for each player in doubles pickleball:

Since the key to scoring lies in being positioned at the Non-Volley Zone line, the best strategy is for both players to work their way forward to that position as quickly as possible. When both teammates are at the edge of the Non-Volley Zone, they are in the most aggressive position to score.

The serving team follows slightly different positioning. The non-serving player stays back at the baseline, while the serving player starts the game by serving from the right-hand service court. The reason for this positioning is to avoid violating the ‘Double Bounce Rule’. By standing back, the serving team ensures that they allow the second bounce and avoid any potential faults.

It’s important to note that while there are no position restrictions for players in a doubles game, as per the USA Pickleball rulebook, the server must serve from the correct service court. Additionally, the correct receiver must receive the serve.

Strategic positioning can make a significant difference in the outcome of a doubles pickleball match. Teams often capitalize on their individual strengths and weaknesses by positioning themselves accordingly. Some teams utilize advanced tactics like ‘stacking’, while others position their players based on defensive or offensive abilities.

One key aspect of doubles pickleball strategy involves maintaining consistent spacing between you and your partner. This helps avoid creating large gaps in your defense that the opposing team can target. Moving together and communicating effectively with your partner is vital for a winning game.

Faulty serve in Pickleball

Importance of communication and teamwork in doubles pickleball

In doubles pickleball, communication and teamwork are paramount to success. Players must develop a strong understanding with their partner to anticipate each other’s moves and coordinate their shots effectively.

Clear and concise communication can make a significant difference, especially when deciding who will take specific shots or how to handle shots near the boundaries. Utilizing phrases like ‘mine’, ‘yours’, and ‘no’ (for shots headed out of bounds) helps establish effective communication during rallies.

Failure to communicate effectively can result in missed opportunities or confusion on the court. Coordination and cooperation between teammates are essential to ensure efficient gameplay and prevent unnecessary errors.

Furthermore, positioning and movement should be synchronized between the teammates. By maintaining consistent spacing and moving together, players can cover the court more effectively and avoid leaving open areas for opponents to exploit.

Pickleball Equipment

Pickleball’s social aspect extends to the doubles game, where players bond and support each other. The emphasis on teamwork and sportsmanship is an integral part of the sport’s culture, fostering a friendly and inviting atmosphere for all players.

Playing pickleball doubles vs. singles: Comparisons and considerations

When comparing doubles and singles pickleball, there are several key factors to consider. Understanding the differences between the two can help players choose which version of the game they prefer and adapt their strategies accordingly.

The rules of doubles pickleball largely overlap with those of singles pickleball. However, the most significant difference lies in serving. In doubles, both players on each team have a designated ‘server number’, while in singles, there’s only one server throughout the game.

Pickleball court with out-of-counds zones

In doubles pickleball, the serving team starts with server #2 serving from the right-hand service court. After that, both players on each team take turns serving, irrespective of who won the previous rally. This system allows both players to have equal serving opportunities.

Four Pickleball Courts per Tennis Court

Compared to singles pickleball, doubles pickleball demands more teamwork, coordination, and communication between partners. Doubles players must strategize together, cover the court efficiently, and make decisions jointly. The focus is on creating openings and opportunities collaboratively, rather than relying solely on individual performance.

Starting Player Positioning for Pickleball Doubles

Singles pickleball is generally more physically demanding, requiring players to cover the entire court themselves. The emphasis is on agility, quickness, and powerful shots. In doubles, players have the advantage of sharing the court and can often rely on their partner to cover certain areas.

Doubles pickleball provides an enjoyable and social experience, allowing players to build connections and friendships on the court. The camaraderie and teamwork involved can enhance the overall fun and satisfaction of the game.

Equipment needed for doubles pickleball

To play doubles pickleball, players need the same basic equipment required for singles matches. Each player will need a pickleball paddle, which should be selected based on personal preference and playing style.

As a group, you’ll also need a few pickleballs to ensure continuous play during a match. Additionally, a portable net may be necessary if your court doesn’t have a dedicated net specifically designed for pickleball.

Investing in quality equipment can greatly enhance your playing experience and help you perform to the best of your abilities. It’s essential to choose paddles that suit your playing style and provide the right combination of control and power.

5 strategies for pickleball doubles

Dimensions of a pickleball court for doubles

A standard pickleball court size is the same for both doubles and singles play. According to USA Pickleball, the regulation pickleball court measures 20 x 44 feet (6.10m x 13.41m).

When considering the total play area, including out-of-bounds areas, the minimum space required is 30 x 60 feet (6.10m x 18.29m). This emphasizes the importance of having ample space around the court to ensure fair and unrestricted gameplay.

The size of a pickleball court is comparable to that of a doubles badminton court. Four pickleball courts can fit into the space of one standard tennis court, highlighting the sport’s versatility and adaptability.

Strategies and tips for doubles pickleball

Developing effective strategies can give you an edge in doubles pickleball matches. Consider the following tips when playing doubles to help enhance your gameplay:

1. Move to the Non-Volley Zone line:

The Non-Volley Zone line, also known as the ‘Kitchen’, is a key strategic position in doubles pickleball. Moving to the edge of the Non-Volley Zone line allows you to be in the optimal position for scoring, as it is harder for opponents to return shots played from that location.

2. Consistent spacing and communication:

Maintain consistent spacing with your partner on the court to ensure efficient coverage and avoid leaving open areas for opponents to exploit. Effective communication is essential in doubles matches, allowing you to coordinate shots and avoid confusion.

3. Take advantage of passing shots:

Hitting shots between opponents is an effective tactic in doubles pickleball. When both opponents hesitate, assuming the other will return the shot, there’s a greater chance of creating openings on the sides of the court for you to exploit on the next shot.

4. Prioritize precision and placement:

In doubles pickleball, precision and placement play crucial roles. Instead of solely relying on power, focus on hitting accurate shots that target your opponents’ weak spots, keeping them on the defensive and setting yourself up for aggressive shots from the Non-Volley Zone line.

5. Utilize the ‘third shot drop’:

A tried and tested strategy in doubles pickleball is the ‘third-shot drop.’ This shot, executed during the third shot of the rally, involves hitting the ball into the opponent’s Kitchen area, forcing them to move forward. This allows the serving team to regain their position at the Non-Volley Zone line and neutralize any advantage the opponents may have had.

Intensity and fitness considerations in doubles pickleball

Doubles pickleball offers a challenging and engaging workout experience, although it may be less physically demanding compared to singles pickleball. In doubles, players only cover half the court and hit fewer shots overall, resulting in a slightly lower calorie burn.

While it may not be as intense, doubles pickleball still provides an excellent opportunity for exercise, fresh air, and social interaction. Engaging in regular doubles pickleball matches can help improve cardiovascular health, agility, and overall fitness.

Kitchen rules in doubles pickleball

The Kitchen, also known as the Non-Volley Zone, has specific rules in doubles pickleball, mirroring those of singles play. The Non-Volley Zone is the area within 7 feet of the net on both sides of the court.

Kitchen rules in doubles pickleball

Players cannot volley the ball from within the Non-Volley Zone. However, there is no rule prohibiting a player from being inside the Non-Volley Zone; they just cannot hit the ball there unless it bounces when they are in this area. Touching any part of the Kitchen line during a volley is considered a fault.

It’s important to note that if the ball bounces in the Non-Volley Zone, players can step into the zone and hit it. This allows for strategic shots, such as the ‘dink’, where the ball is lightly hit over the net and intentionally lands in the opponent’s Non-Volley Zone.


Doubles pickleball is a highly popular and enjoyable way to play the sport, offering unique gameplay and a friendly atmosphere. Whether you’re new to pickleball or have experience playing singles, trying doubles can open up a whole new level of excitement and teamwork. With its own set of rules, strategies, and challenges, doubles pickleball is a fantastic option for players of all skill levels.

Embrace the camaraderie, develop effective communication with your partner, and utilize the strategies mentioned above to enhance your doubles pickleball gameplay. Remember to enjoy the social aspect of the sport, build connections, and have fun while engaging in this fast-paced and thrilling activity!

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