Pickleball Rulebook

Pickleball Paddle Rules

 

Get ready to master the game of Pickleball 

Complete Rulebook Step by step:

1. Basic Rules

2. The Serve

3. Service Sequence

4. Scoring

5. Two-Bounce Rule

6. Non-Volley Zone

7. Line Calls 

8. Faults  

Basic Rules

  • Pickleball can be played in either doubles, with two players per team, or singles. However, doubles are the more commonly played format.
  •  The rules and playing area dimensions remain the same for both singles and doubles matches.

The Serve

  • When serving, the server's arm must follow an upward arc motion while striking the ball.
  • The paddle should not make contact with the ball above waist level.
  • The head of the paddle must not be higher than the highest point of the wrist at the moment of contact.
  • However, a 'drop serve' is also allowed, where none of the aforementioned elements apply.
  • At the time of striking the ball, the server's feet must not touch the court or extend beyond the sidelines or centerline. Additionally, at least one foot must be positioned behind the baseline on the playing surface or the ground behind it.
  • The serve must be hit diagonally crosscourt and land within the boundaries of the opposite diagonal court.
  • Each server is permitted only one attempt to serve.

Service Sequence

  • In doubles, both players on the serving team have the chance to serve and score points until they make a fault, except for the first service sequence of each new game.
  • The first serve in each side-out is made from the right-hand court.
  • If a point is scored, the server switches sides and the next serve is initiated from the left-hand court.
  • The server continues switching sides after each point until a fault is committed, causing the first server to lose the serve.
  • When the first server loses the serve, their partner then serves from their correct side of the court, except for the first service sequence of the game.
  • The second server continues serving until their team commits a fault and loses the serve to the opposing team.
  • Once the service goes to the opposition (side out), the first serve is made from the right-hand court, and both players on the team have the opportunity to serve and score points until their team commits two faults.
  • In singles, the server serves from the right-hand court when their score is even and from the left when the score is odd.
  • At the beginning of each new game, only one partner on the serving team has the opportunity to serve before faulting, after which the service passes to the receiving team.

Scoring

  • Points can only be scored by the serving team.
  • Games are typically played up to 11 points, with a requirement to win by a margin of 2 points.
  • However, in tournaments, games may be extended to 15 or 21 points, with the same win-by-2 rule.
  • When the serving team's score is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10), the player who served first for that team in the game will be positioned on the right-side court when serving or receiving. Conversely, when the serving team's score is odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), that player will be positioned on the left-side court when serving or receiving.

Two-Bounce Rule

  • When the ball is served in Pickleball, the receiving team is required to let it bounce before returning, and then the serving team must also let it bounce before returning, resulting in two bounces in total.
  • Once the ball has bounced once in each team's court, both teams have the option to either volley the ball (hitting it before it bounces) or play it off a bounce (ground stroke).
  • The implementation of the two-bounce rule serves to eliminate the advantage of serve and volley tactics and promotes longer rallies by extending the time before a ball must be hit.

Non-Volley Zone

  • The non-volley zone, often called "the kitchen," is the area within 7 feet on both sides of the net on the court.
  • Volleying, which is hitting the ball in the air without letting it bounce, is not allowed within the non-volley zone. This rule prevents players from executing powerful smashes from a position within the zone.
  • It is considered a fault if a player steps on or touches the non-volley zone, including the line while volleying a ball. This includes situations where a player's momentum causes them or anything they are wearing or carrying to make contact with the non-volley zone or its associated lines.
  • Additionally, if a player volleys the ball and their momentum carries them into or touches the non-volley zone, it is also considered a fault, even if the volleyed ball is declared dead before this happens.
  • However, it is permissible for a player to be in the non-volley zone at any other time, as long as they are not volleying the ball.
  • The non-volley zone is commonly referred to as "the kitchen" due to its strategic importance in the game.

Line Calls

  • In Pickleball, a ball that touches any line, except the non-volley zone line on a serve, is considered "in" and is considered a valid shot.
  • However, if a serve makes contact with the non-volley zone line, it is considered short and results in a fault.

Faults

  • A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation.
  • A fault by the receiving team awards a point to the serving team.
  • A fault by the serving team leads to the server losing their serve or a side out.
  • A fault occurs when:

- The serve does not land within the boundaries of the receiving court.

- The ball is hit into the net on the serve or any return shot.

- The ball is volleyed (hit in the air without bouncing) before a bounce has occurred on each side.

- The ball is hit out of bounds.

- A ball is volleyed from within the non-volley zone (the kitchen).

- The ball bounces twice before being struck by the receiver.

- A player, their clothing, or any part of their paddle touches the net or the net post when the ball is in play.

- There is a violation of a service rule.

- A ball in play strikes a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying.

- A ball in play strikes any permanent object before bouncing on the court.



Determining Serving Team


The determination of which player or team has the first choice of side, service, or receive can be made using any fair method agreed upon by the players or teams. For example, a common method is a coin flip, where one side is assigned to one player/team, and the other side is assigned to the opposing player/team. Other fair methods could include drawing straws, rock-paper-scissors, or any other mutually acceptable method that ensures an unbiased decision.