The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pickleball Doubles: Key Rules and Strategies

Hey there! If you’re new to the world of pickleball and haven’t given doubles a try yet, you’re seriously missing out! Doubles pickleball is where it’s at and it’s the most popular way to enjoy this awesome sport. Trust me, once you give it a shot, you’ll understand why.

Doubles pickleball takes the game to a whole new level of strategy and precision compared to singles. Plus, it’s incredibly social and fits right into the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of pickleball.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pickleball Doubles: Key Rules and Strategies
The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pickleball Doubles: Key Rules and Strategies

But you might be wondering, what’s the difference between pickleball doubles and singles? Is playing doubles a challenge? And what’s this “Double Bounce Rule” everyone talks about?

No need to worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ll delve into all these questions and more. This guide is your ultimate resource for doubles pickleball if you’re just starting out. We’ll walk you through the basic rules of pickleball doubles, the different stages of play, and even share some tips and tricks to get you off to a great start. So stick around, my friend, and let’s get you into the swing of doubles pickleball with the help of Epickleball.

Get ready to have some doubles pickleball fun!

Playing pickleball doubles is awesome! If you’re already a pro at playing singles pickleball, you’re in for a treat because the rules for doubles are quite similar. And if you’re completely new to the sport, no worries at all! Learning how to play pickleball is a breeze, so you’ll be hitting those shots like a champ in no time. Let’s dive in and have some doubles pickleball fun!

Get ready to have some doubles pickleball fun
Get ready to have some doubles pickleball fun

The serve is where every pickleball doubles match begins, my friend. The main purpose of the serve is to start the ball in motion and begin each point.

To determine which team serves first, players have a couple of options: they can go for a classic coin toss or engage in an exciting game of Paper, Rock, Scissors. Here’s a fun fact: on some courts, the tradition is for the side facing northwest to always take the first serve, thanks to pickleball’s roots in the Pacific Northwest.

Now, let’s explore a few serving rules, specifically for the widely used volley serve:

  • When it comes to serving in pickleball, you have the option of using either a forehand or backhand stroke. Imagine your arm moving in a graceful upward arc, while the paddle’s face is tilted upwards.
  • The point of contact between your paddle and the ball should be below your waistline, specifically beneath your navel.
  • At the moment of impact, make sure the paddle’s head is positioned lower than the highest point of your wrist.
  • Here’s an important one: your serve must land in the service area diagonally opposite yours. Just like in tennis, in pickleball, you aim for the opponent’s service box that is diagonally across from you, not directly in front.
  • Let’s talk about foot placement. You need to have at least one foot touching the ground behind the baseline. Also, make sure both of your feet are within the imaginary extension of the sideline and centerline, meaning they should be inside the boundaries of your court rectangle.
  • Remember, you only get one attempt to serve. If you or your team scores a point, you keep the serving privilege. However, if you make an error or your opponents win the rally, unfortunately, you lose your serve.

A variation of the serve called the drop serve is gaining popularity in pickleball. With a drop serve, you simply release the ball onto the ground before striking it on its bounce. Here are a few additional guidelines to keep in mind when using the drop serve technique in pickleball:

  • You have the option to drop the ball from one hand or roll it off the paddle face.
  • The ball is free to bounce anywhere, as long as your feet remain behind the baseline.
  • Be sure not to forcefully throw the ball down or toss it into the air before it touches the ground.

Scoring in doubles pickleball can be represented by a sequence of three numbers during a lively match, like a secret code that keeps the game exciting (e.g. 0-2-1 or 6-3-2):

  • The first digit indicates the score of the team serving, showcasing their progress in the game.
  • The second digit represents the score of the team receiving, keeping them informed of their performance.
  • The third digit, like a special identifier, indicates the server as either number 1 or 2.

Points can only be scored by the serving team, while the receiving team cannot earn points. When the serving team fails to win the rally, they lose the serve, also known as a side out.

Get ready to have some doubles pickleball fun
Get ready to have some doubles pickleball fun

To start the game, the player on the right side of the court, known as the “even” side, initiates the serve to the diagonally opposite service court. Before each serve, it is important for them to announce the current score, starting with 0-0-2.

If the serving team earns a point, the server switches to the opposite side, known as the odd side, and serves again to the diagonally opposite service court.

Members of the serving team continue to alternate their positions until they commit a fault and lose the serve. However, players on the receiving team maintain their positions without any changes.

Typically, when the initial server of a team loses a rally, their partner becomes the server for the next play. However, there is an exception to this rule for the very first serve of the game. Only server #2 has the opportunity to serve initially, hence the starting score of ‘0-0-2’. This rule ensures a fair distribution of the opportunity to score.

Volleys

In pickleball, a volley refers to hitting the ball in mid-air before it touches the ground.

Volleys can be used to score points, whether it’s with a powerful shot aimed at the opponents’ feet or a gentle arc over the net when they are positioned too far away to counter, known as a drop shot.

Volleys
Volleys

Volleys are often used when you are near the Non-Volley Zone, also called the “Kitchen.”

According to the rules of pickleball doubles, when executing a volley, both feet must remain behind the Non-Volley Zone line. It’s also important to avoid entering the Non-Volley Zone after making contact with the ball.

When can players enter the Non-Volley Zone?

Technically, players are allowed to enter the Non-Volley Zone, or “Kitchen,” at any time. However, engaging in a volley is prohibited if any part of the body occupies the zone, including making contact with the Kitchen line.

When can players enter the Non-Volley Zone?
When can players enter the Non-Volley Zone?

If the ball bounces within your Non-Volley Zone, you are allowed to step into the zone and hit the ball. For example, when the ball bounces and you move forward to hit it, you can execute a strategic shot called a dink. This involves lofting the ball over the net to land within your opponent’s Non-Volley Zone.

What is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball?

The Double Bounce Rule is a fundamental aspect of pickleball. It states that the ball must bounce on both sides of the court before either team can engage in a volley. This means that the receiving team must let the ball bounce before returning it and the serving team must let the ball bounce before responding to the opposing team’s initial shot. Once this rule is satisfied, teams are no longer required to wait for the ball to bounce and can choose to hit it after the bounce or volley it directly from the air.

What is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball
What is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball

Rules on Line Calls

Gaining proficiency in doubles pickleball requires a thorough understanding of the regulations surrounding line calls. In pickleball, a shot is considered “in” if it lands within the court boundaries, including the lines. However, during the serve, it is crucial for the ball to completely clear the Kitchen line. USA Pickleball explicitly advises against declaring a shot as “out” unless there is a noticeable gap between the ball and the boundary line.

Rules on Line Calls
Rules on Line Calls

In matches where there is no referee or line judges, it is the responsibility of the players on the court to make line calls for their respective side. The official rules state that either teammate is authorized to make line calls in doubles pickleball.

As a guiding principle, participants in pickleball are encouraged to trust the calls made by their opponents. The culture of pickleball values good sportsmanship and friendly play, so assuming good intentions is of utmost importance.

Violations and Faults

As per the summary of rules by USA Pickleball:

  • A fault occurs when a rule violation brings the play to a halt.
  • If the receiving team commits a fault, it awards a point to the serving team.
  • If the serving team commits a fault, it leads to the server losing their serve or a side out.

In doubles pickleball, three common faults can occur:

  • The serve does not clear the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen, including the line.
  • A shot is hit out of bounds, landing beyond the baseline or outside the sidelines.
  • A shot is directed into the net.

Occasional faults may also happen, including:

  • A player being hit by the ball, resulting in a fault for that player.
  • The ball bouncing twice before being struck.
  • Serving faults, such as foot faults or violations of the aforementioned serving rules.

When playing doubles pickleball, any player from each team can call faults. Both teams, regardless of their position on the court, can identify foot faults and service faults.

According to the USA Pickleball rulebook (13.D.1.c) for games without officials, if there is disagreement regarding Non-Volley Zone and service foot faults on the opponent’s side of the court, it is recommended to replay the point.

Violations and Faults
Violations and Faults

Another rule (13.D.1.d) states that if a player believes their opponent has committed a fault other than a service or Non-Volley Zone foot fault, they can bring it up with the opposing team, but they cannot enforce it.

USA Pickleball emphasizes that “the player accused of the fault ultimately makes the final decision regarding fault resolution.”

Equipment Needed

When it comes to doubles pickleball, fancy gear is not a requirement. There is no need for additional equipment in doubles pickleball compared to singles. Each player simply needs their reliable pickleball paddle.

Equipment Needed
Equipment Needed

As a team, all you need are a few pickleballs and a portable net if your court does not have one. If you are interested in purchasing equipment, we have researched and found some excellent options available today:

Court Dimensions

Pickleball uses the same court size for both singles and doubles matches. According to USA Pickleball regulations, the official dimensions of a pickleball court are 20 x 44 feet (6.10m x 13.41m). Considering the out-of-bounds areas, the minimum overall playing area expands to 30 x 60 feet (6.10m x 18.29m).

Court Dimensions
Court Dimensions

The dimensions of a pickleball court are identical to those of a doubles badminton court. Interestingly, the space occupied by a single tennis court can accommodate four pickleball courts, taking into account the out-of-bounds areas.

Court Positioning

Here are the common starting positions for each player in doubles pickleball:

To increase your scoring opportunities, it is advisable to position yourself at the Non-Volley Zone line, which makes moving forward a key strategy. In doubles play, the non-receiving player from the returning team starts at the Non-Volley Zone line due to the Double Bounce Rule.

The positioning of the serving team differs from that of the non-serving player, who stands back at the baseline to ensure compliance with the Double Bounce Rule when returning the opponent’s shot. This allows for the second bounce and avoids a potential fault.

Court Positioning
Court Positioning

As per the USA Pickleball rulebook (rule 4.B.7), there are no specific restrictions on player positioning in a doubles game as long as they remain on their respective team’s side of the net. Players can choose to be on or off the court.

However, the server is an exception and must serve from the correct service court, while the receiver must be in the appropriate position to receive the serve.

Strategic teams strategically position themselves, leveraging their strengths and addressing weaknesses. This may involve defensive-minded players staying back on the court or utilizing advanced tactics such as “stacking.”

5 Strategies for Effective Doubles Play in Pickleball

Coordinate Movements with Your Partner

Make it a habit to synchronize your movements with your teammate. By maintaining a consistent distance between each other, you can prevent creating wide gaps in your defense that the opposing team can exploit.

Migrate to the Kitchen Line after the Return-of-Serve

One fundamental strategy in pickleball doubles is to promptly move towards the Non-Volley Zone line after returning the serve.

When both you and your partner position yourselves at the boundary of the Non-Volley Zone, you give yourselves a significant advantage in playing aggressively and scoring points.

Ensure Effective Communication with Your Partner

Utilize terms like “mine,” “yours,” and “no” (for shots heading out of bounds) to effectively communicate with your teammate. In doubles pickleball, clear communication holds paramount importance.

Ensure Effective Communication with Your Partner
Ensure Effective Communication with Your Partner

Failure to communicate often leads to instances where teammates collide while attempting to reach the same shots. Additionally, drive shots may sail down the center of the court as both players watch them pass, assuming the other will return them.

Adopt a Defensive Position in the Backcourt

While positioning yourselves at the edge of the Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen) offers the greatest potential for aggressive and strategic gameplay, playing defensively from a deeper position in the court is comparatively easier.

Adopt a Defensive Position in the Backcourt
Adopt a Defensive Position in the Backcourt

Defending from the backcourt provides two primary advantages. Firstly, it allows you more time to react to shots from the opposing team. Secondly, occupying a deeper area on the court gives you more space to let their shots bounce before returning them.

Allowing the ball to bounce presents an opportunity to execute a controlled return and regain positioning at the Non-Volley Zone line.

Target the Gap Between Your Opponents

Deploying a well-executed power shot right between your opponents is a proven strategy in doubles pickleball. This tactic often causes hesitation from both opponents as they anticipate the other handling the shot.

In such situations, both opponents may converge towards the ball, and even if they manage to return it, it will likely expose vulnerabilities on the outer regions of the court. These openings can then be exploited during your subsequent shot.

The Significance of Precision over Power in Doubles Pickleball

Pickleball is a game that emphasizes finesse and strategic play. While beginners may struggle to return powerful shots, as you advance, you’ll observe a decrease in such errors.

Experienced pickleball players prioritize accuracy and placement. They aim for their opponents’ weak spots to keep them on the defensive and position themselves for aggressive shots from the Non-Volley Zone line.

The Significance of Precision over Power in Doubles Pickleball
The Significance of Precision over Power in Doubles Pickleball

A prime example of this is the “third shot drop” – a shot executed by the serving team (the third shot of the rally) into the opponent’s Kitchen. This precise shot allows the serving team to advance to the Non-Volley Zone and neutralize the advantage of the receiving team, who already have one player positioned at the Non-Volley Zone line.

Pickleball doubles vs pickleball singles: A Comprehensive Comparison

Differences in Rules

When it comes to comparing doubles and singles pickleball, there are several crucial factors to consider.

In terms of regulations, share many similarities. However, the handling of serves stands out as the primary distinction.

In doubles pickleball, each player on a team is assigned a “server number,” either 1 or 2. The serve is initiated by server #2 from the right-hand service court at the beginning of the game. The server number is determined by the court a player occupies when they gain the serve during a side out.

If the serving team commits a fault initially, a side out occurs, and the opponents take over the serve. The player in the right service court becomes server #1 during the side out.

Differences in Rules
Differences in Rules

After the initial serve, both players on each team take turns serving. When server #1 loses their serve, their partner takes the next turn, and if server #2 loses the serve, a side out happens, and the opposing team takes over. In singles, there is only one server, and players do not possess a server number. Therefore, teammates are not required to alternate serving responsibilities.

The reason behind the difference in the first serve is to prevent the first team from gaining an unfair advantage.

Differences in Skill Set

Doubles pickleball places a higher emphasis on strategy and collaboration compared to singles pickleball.

In singles pickleball, players must cover the entire court swiftly and possess the ability to hit the ball with more power. Speed, agility, and endurance play a significant role in singles.

On the other hand, doubles pickleball makes it relatively easier for both teams to cover the court and return the ball. Consequently, the game becomes more centered on patience and teamwork, working harmoniously with your partner to create scoring opportunities.

Doubles pickleball introduces a wider range of shots than singles pickleball. Passing shots become more important in singles, while doubles allows for increased usage of lobs and dinks.

Differences in Gameplan

In doubles pickleball, the fundamental strategic objective is to position your team near the edge of the Non-Volley Zone.

Differences in Gameplan
Differences in Gameplan

From this position, utilize your shots to put your opponents on the defensive, seeking out angles that make it challenging for them to return the ball or forcing them into shots that you can counter aggressively.

In singles pickleball, precision is crucial when directing your shots towards specific targets. Most players tend to deliver deep, powerful shots and focus on keeping their opponents active at the back of the court.

Physical Demands

Singles pickleball is more physically demanding compared to doubles pickleball. In singles, you cover the entire court and hit a greater number of shots.

However, doubles pickleball still provides an excellent workout and a chance to engage in physical activity while enjoying the outdoors. Playing doubles results in approximately 25% fewer calories burned compared to singles.

The ‘Kitchen’ Rules in Pickleball Doubles

The rules for the Kitchen in pickleball doubles are identical to those in singles. The Kitchen refers to the area within 7 feet of the net on both sides.

As the name suggests, players are not allowed to volley the ball while inside the Non-Volley Zone. There is no specific rule prohibiting players from being in the Non-Volley Zone, but they cannot hit the ball there unless it has bounced while they are within the zone.

If you haven’t experienced doubles pickleball yet, now is the perfect time to give it a try. Learning how to play doubles pickleball is a breeze, and it is the preferred way to play pickleball suitable for players of all levels, from beginners to advanced.

The 'Kitchen' Rules in Pickleball Doubles
The ‘Kitchen’ Rules in Pickleball Doubles

Which do you prefer: pickleball doubles or singles? How does your approach change between singles and doubles? We really enjoy hearing your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *