PickleBall Rules: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

You must have observed your neighbors applauding during a court game or a small group of people becoming overly enthusiastic during a game with an odd ball sound in the park. What makes pickleball such a success? How is it played?

Hello again. We will go over all there is to know about pickleball in today’s article.

Brief History of Pickleball

Pickleball is a combination of tennis and ping pong. In 1965, a group of friends created it. They started using ping pong paddles to knock a plastic ball with holes in it across a badminton net after being challenged to do so by one of their sons.

The pals updated their equipment, made official rules for their game, and introduced others to it. The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established in 1984 as a result of the game’s immense popularity, and fifty states already had pickleball players by 1990. USA Pickleball had more than 50,000 members by 2021.

We mentioned that it’s a hybrid of ping pong and tennis. So the racket is called a paddle, which is right in the middle between the sizes of a tennis racket and a ping pong bat. And the ball is the same size as a tennis ball, but the material is more like ping pong, like plastic, but a little bit harder and sturdier material.

The pickleball courts have a blue region that is about 30% of a tennis court and much bigger than the ping pong table. That is another reason why we think it’s a hybrid of ping pong and tennis.

The pickleball court is divided into two areas by net, just like tennis. So one is your area and the other is your opponent’s area bounded by a baseline and the sidelines. The bigger area you step in on the court is yours and the bound should be in this area.

Kitchen line in a pickleball court
Image: Screenshot/ The Comprehensive Minds

There is also a kitchen. The kitchen is basically the area where you cannot hit the ball directly. So if you’re hitting the ball directly, you should not be standing in the kitchen, otherwise, you lose the point.

So what are the rules of pickleball? How is it played?

Simply put, the rules of pickleball are the ball must stay in bounds. There should be one bounce per side. Serving must be done at the baseline. The serve can’t land in the no-volley zone. That’s the kitchen and the game ends at 11 or 15 points. But like any sport, there are plenty of nuances, some exceptions to the rules, and some strategies of play that can make some of these rules work to your advantage.

There are a few regulations when it comes to serving in pickleball.

The most important, though, is that the serve is done at the baseline with one foot behind it. Serve will be determined by a coin flip or a random number selection, but traditionally a flip. Additionally, the serve must be done underhand with the ball held below the waistline and served diagonally to the opposite side. If these rules are broken, it will be counted as a fault and the serve will go to your teammate or directly to the other side if you’re playing singles.

image showing the serving rule in pickleball game

This zone is anywhere inside of the lined box that is seven feet from the net. The no-volley zone is on both sides of the court. This is often called the kitchen line and you’ll hear players saying stay out of the kitchen when referring to the no-volley zone. The serve will be lost If your ball touches the no-volley zone on a serve.

Your serve needs to go beyond it. After the serve, though, you may drop the ball in the kitchen called a drop shot, but in general on the serve, the deeper the better. Anyways, just remember that it needs to bounce once on each side before continuing the volley and dropping it in the kitchen. Mostly all sports that are played on a field or on a court the ball must always stay in bounds to be in play.

This means that the pickleball has to stay within the white lines on either side of the court when in play. Like ping pong, if you happen to hit the ball out of bounds, you lose your serve and give the ball to the other team. This puts your team at a disadvantage and you might lose the game. However, the bright side is that pickleball requires the ball to bounce during the serve and return. So if the ball goes out on your serve, you have a better chance at net returning your opponent’s serve.

This rule is what sets pickleball apart from other net sports. Funnily enough, this is also the most forgotten rule. If you let the ball bounce twice on your side, it is returned to the other team.

Image showing all dimensions of pickleball court
Image: Screenshot/ The Comprehensive Minds

If you serve or return to the other side, it must only bounce once on your side. Your serve will be over if it bounces more than once or goes out of bounds. Basically, let the ball bounce once before you return it to the other side. However, after the ball is returned, after a single bounce and has returned after a single bounce by the server to the other side, the two-bounce rule is completed and either side may play the ball in the air or let it bounce move forward on that turn.

Pickleball Point System

Traditionally, pickleball ended at 11 points, but like volleyball and tennis, the winning team must win by at least two points. So if you’re an 11, but the other team gets ten, the game will go on. This means that the next score the game can end at will be 12. Some games go to 15 by default, but they must still win by at least two points. The ending score will always be discussed by both teams beforehand.

When playing to 11, teams switch sides off the court when the first team hits six points. If you play to 21, you’ll switch at eight points when you’re serving and you lose a point, the serve goes to your opponent.

No changes in the score. But here’s the tricky part. Whenever you’re serving and your score is even, let’s say, two points, you start from the right. But if your score is odd, you start from the left. The same thing with your opponent. You need to win 11 points to win the game, and sometimes it can be decided that it will be the best of three games. So you need to win two games. 11 points per game, get two of those and you’re a champion.

As we mentioned earlier, it could be 15 points or sometimes 21. But if you’re a newbie, start with 11 points and watch the game grow on you.

Also Read:

These 7 Best Pickleball Tactics Will Make You Win Every Game

5 Golden Rules Of Pickleball Every Beginner Should Know

The 5 stages Of Pickleball That Every Person Go Through

Follow These 14 Tips To Become a Pickleball Pro In Less Than a Year

Why is Pickleball spreading so fastly?

The game is so popular because it’s very easy to learn. It’s basically the easiest racket sport. Plus you can put two pickleball courts on one tennis court, or you could even put four pickleball courts on one tennis court. So many people can play in a small area. Pickleball is indeed a social sport. It can be played in singles or doubles with players who may talk and cheer throughout the game.

Compared to tennis, which is generally played mostly in silence with two or four players, while a group of 16 pickleball players talking and cheering can occupy the same amount of court space having four times the fun. Many tennis courts around the country have been converted into pickleball courts. While this is a source of joyful recreation to some, others do not like the rowdy enthusiasts.

Previously, while two or four tennis players would take to the court to play quietly, a much larger group of overzealous pickleball players can be found in the same place. In addition to the larger, noisier crowds pickleball tends to draw, there are acoustic characteristics of the game that can be annoying to neighbors.

Tennis balls and rackets are made of soft materials like rubber felts and nylon, but pickleball equipment is made of hard plastic. The softer materials used in tennis create a quieter sound as the ball hits the racquet. In general, we tend to find softer Southern sounds to be more tolerable than the loudest sudden sounds.

The average noise level coming from a pickleball court is measured at around 70 decibels at about 100 feet away from the courts. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes that noise exposure becomes dangerous when an individual is exposed to 90 decibels or greater for 8 hours or more.

For comparison, the typical ambient neighborhood noise is about 45 decibels and the average conversation is around 60 decibels. So is pickleball noise is dangerous? No. Does pickleball add noise to the environment? Yes. But so does your lawnmower.

Pickleball is having a great time. Do not mind at all. But as for the grouchy neighbors, it depends on who you ask. Thanks for reading this article. Have you played your first pickleball game yet? Drop your comments in the comments section.

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