Pickleball Rules Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide

by Kelly Frazier on Oct 20, 2023

Pickleball Rules Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide

Pickleball Rules Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide

If you've recently taken up pickleball or are considering trying your hand at this popular sport, it's essential to understand the basic rules. Pickleball, often described as a blend of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, is known for its accessibility and fast-paced action. In this beginner's guide, we'll break down the key rules to get you started on your pickleball journey.

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The Court

Pickleball is typically played on a rectangular court that's 20 feet wide and 44 feet long for doubles play, and 20 feet wide and 22 feet long for singles play. The court is divided into halves by a net, which is hung at 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches at the center.


In the world of pickleball, scoring systems can vary, and understanding the key differences can enhance your game experience.

In rally scoring, every rally counts. Whichever team wins a rally, whether they were serving or not, is awarded the point. It's a fast-paced system that keeps the action intense.

On the other hand, in side-out scoring, only the serving team is awarded a point if they win a rally. This system adds a unique twist to the game. Typically, side-out scoring games are played to 11 points, making for shorter matches.

In contrast, games under the rally scoring system are often played to a higher score, usually 15 or 21 points. This allows for longer, more competitive matches where every rally can impact the outcome significantly.

The Serve

  • Serving is always underhand, and the server must stand behind the baseline.
  • The serve is diagonal, from the right-hand service court to the opponent's right-hand service court.
  • The ball must clear the net and land in the opponent's service court without touching the lines.

The Double Bounce Rule

The most crucial rule in pickleball is the double bounce rule. After the serve, both teams must allow the ball to bounce once on each side of the net before they can start volleying (hitting the ball in the air). This means that the serve, return, and the next two shots must be groundstrokes (bounced balls) before volleys (airborne hits) are allowed.

Kitchen Rules

The kitchen, also known as the non-volley zone, is a seven-foot area on both sides of the net. Players cannot volley (hit the ball in the air) while standing in the kitchen. However, they can enter the kitchen to play a bounced ball.

Faults and Out-of-Bounds

Common faults in pickleball include:

  • Hitting the ball out-of-bounds.
  • Not clearing the net on the serve.
  • Stepping into the kitchen and volleying.
  • Serving from the wrong service court.

Fault Serve

In pickleball, a fault serve occurs when the server makes an incorrect serve, such as stepping on or over the baseline, hitting the ball into the net, or serving out of bounds. In such cases, the server's team loses the serve.

Winning the Game

To win a game, a team must reach the designated number of points (usually 11 or 15) and lead by at least two points. A match is typically played as a best-of-three games or until a predetermined number of games are won.

Have fun!

Above all, enjoy the game! Pickleball is not only a fantastic workout but also a social and incredibly fun pastime. Whether victory or defeat, every player gains something special from the experience. We promise you'll be captivated in no time!

Check out our Keeping It Simple Series for more beginner tips to get you started! 

Pickleball is a fun and exciting sport that's easy to pick up, thanks to its simple rules. As a beginner, mastering the basics of serving, the double bounce rule, and understanding the kitchen rules will get you started on the right track. So grab your paddle, head to the court, and enjoy the fast-paced action of pickleball!