Pickleball. You’ve heard of it, right? It’s the fast-growing, oddly named court sport that’s all the rage now. The game is a unique combination of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton all wrapped into one. Perhaps you’ve seen our recent blog post highlighting several fun facts regarding pickleball, but do you know how to play? If not, here are the basic guidelines to help you learn more — and perhaps inspire you to pick up a paddle and play a match or two.
The number of players
Pickleball is played either as doubles, which is two players per team, or as singles. Doubles is most common in the sport. No matter the team size, the same size playing area and rules apply.
Pickleball is played on a smaller version of a tennis court that measures 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. The net is 36 inches high on the ends and 34 inches tall in the middle. The pickleball court has left and right service zones, as well as a seven-foot non-volley zone located in front of the net. This zone is known as the “kitchen.” The strange name is thought to have come from shuffleboard, as you don’t want to land in the shuffleboard kitchen just like you don’t want to stand in the kitchen in pickleball.
The paddles used in pickleball are hard-surfaced. They are smaller to a tennis racquet but larger than a ping pong paddle. Also, the ball is similar to a whiffle ball but it is slightly smaller in size and made of lightweight, hard plastic with holes throughout. As far as apparel is concerned, there is no dress code. Players usually wear athletic shirts, shorts, and comfortable tennis shoes.
The first serve is usually determined by a coin flip and serving begins in the right-hand (even) court. Serves are always underhanded and must contact the ball below the player’s waist. It’s important to note that serves must land in the diagonally opposite court from the server. If a point is scored, the server moves to the left side (odd) court and serves diagonally to the opposite court.
A few rules to keep in mind when playing pickleball are the double bounce rule and what is considered a fault. The double bounce rule means the ball must bounce before the opposite team returns the serve. Also, the serving team has to let the ball bounce before they return the ball. A fault occurs anytime the ball is hit out of bounds, if the ball doesn’t clear the net, if a player inside the no-volley zone returns a shot, or if the double-bounce rule is violated.
How to keep score
Pickleball points are scored by serving a ball that has not been returned by the opposing team or if the opposing team faults. Note that only the serving team can score points.
Winning the game
A game of pickleball is won by the first team that scores 11 points. The winning team must win by two points. If not, play continues until one team wins by two. Typically for matches, the winning team must win two out of three games.
Of course, there’s more to pickleball than this. There are dinks, lobs, drop shots, and poaching, just to name a few — but there’s time to learn about those. At Soleil Laurel Canyon, we have well-maintained courts and a very active pickleball club. There are helpful beginner clinics, scheduled games, round robins, and fun socials too. Visit us to see our pickleball and tennis facilities, and so much more. Start planning your Soleil experience today.