Pickleball players and an official for a blog about the rules of pickleball

A Beginner’s Guide to the Rules of Pickleball: Scoring, Serving, and More

Are you looking to take your pickleball game up a notch? Knowing the rules of pickleball is essential for any serious player.

From understanding basic rules, such as scoring and out-of-bounds rules, to more advanced concepts like volley and pickleball serve regulations – mastering these key points will help ensure that you’re playing by the book.

In this blog post, we’ll cover all of these important rules of pickleball so you can get an edge on your opponents.

Understanding the Basics of Pickleball

Pickleball is a rapidly growing game, blending aspects of tennis, badminton and ping pong. It’s a great way to stay active and have fun with friends or family. To get started playing pickleball, you’ll need to understand the basics of the game.

Official Court Size

Pickleball courts are 20 feet wide by 44 feet long (the same size as a doubles badminton court). The net should be 36 inches high at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle.


Pickleball is played with a paddle (similar to those used for ping-pong) and a plastic ball similar to a wiffle ball. Paddles come in various sizes, shapes, materials, weights, colors etc., so it’s important to find one that fits your style of play.

You can check out my blog post on the best pickleball paddles on the market right now if you’re looking for some help making that decision!

Outside of that, pretty much any other equipment is optional, and more dependent on whether you’re looking to take your game to another level. Then again, there’s also some additional equipment that’s more about comfort and style while on the court. 

Some examples of optional equipment would be paddle covers, sunglasses, wristbands, and pickleball-specific shoes. Just to name a few.

The only exception to that may be if you don’t have a pickleball court nearby and you need equipment, such as a portable net and court lines, to make your own court!

With the right equipment, practice, and dedication, you can become a confident and dangerous pickleball player in no time. 

Basic Gameplay

You must serve from behind the baseline on one side of the court, hitting the ball crosscourt over the net into the service box of the opposing team. Each time they hit it back across you have to return fire until someone fails to make a legal shot or hits the ball off-court.

Additionally, remember not to volley while standing within seven feet of either end’s non-volley zone line (“kitchen”).

When you first get started, it might feel like an uphill battle to remember all the specific rules while also playing a strategic game. So, that’s why I put together this blog.

Understanding the game, starting with the basics of pickleball is essential for any athlete looking to get into this exciting sport. Now that you have a good grasp on the fundamentals, let’s move on to scoring in pickleball and explore how points are earned.

Scoring in Pickleball

Playing pickleball can be a thrilling and enjoyable experience, yet keeping score may prove to be a challenge. Fortunately, a couple of scoring systems are available to help players keep track of their progress when playing pickleball.

Scoring Systems

The most common scoring systems in pickleball are rally scoring and traditional scoring. 

Games played with traditional scoring typically are played to 11 points, though it’s not uncommon for games to be played to 15 or 21 points instead. To win the match, you need to be winning by 2 when you reach 11 points. In traditional scoring, only the serving team can score a point.

Most tournaments use what’s known as rally scoring where every point counts regardless of who served it – making every single shot important. Rally scoring typically lasts until one side reaches 21 points, again winning by 2.

No matter which type of scoring system you decide on using for your next pickleball match, just remember that keeping track will help make sure everyone stays on top of things during those long rallies.

It’s also important to call out the score clearly and consistently to avoid confusion and ensure that everyone is aware of the current score. Here’s a basic guide for calling out the score in pickleball:

  • Start with the serving team’s score: When calling out the score, always start with the serving team’s score. For example, if the team serving has three points, say “3”
  • Add the receiving team’s score: Next, add the receiving team’s score. For example, if the receiving team has five points, say “3-5.”
  • For doubles, indicate the server: After stating the score, indicate who is serving by saying either “1” or “2” For example, if the serving team has three points and the receiving team has five points, if you are the first server for your team, you would say “3-5-1.” Whoever is on the right side of the court when your team starts serving, that person would be server 1 for that team’s turn to serve. You do not keep the same server number all game.

Scoring Summary

If you want to dig deep into the official rules related to scoring and serving position for the traditional scoring system then you can check out the USA Pickleball Association website.

Scoring in pickleball can be a tricky concept to understand, but with practice and dedication, it is possible to master. When serving rules are taken into account, the game of pickleball becomes even more interesting and complex.

Serving Rules in Pickleball

Serving in pickleball is an important part of the game. Being familiar with the regulations of serving is essential for guaranteeing a fair game and adhering to all pickleball rules. 

Underhand Serve

You can do a volley serve (hitting the ball out of the air) or a drop serve (hitting the ball after letting it bounce). But either way, the serve must be made underhand or with the arm moving on an upward arc when making contact with the ball. 

Also, when your paddle makes contact with the ball, the ball cannot be higher than your waist and the paddle head needs to be below the highest part of your wrist.

Double-Bounce Rule

One key rule to remember when serving, or receiving a serve, in pickleball is the double-bounce rule. 

This means that your serve must land in the diagonal service box beyond the non-volley zone (or kitchen), the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before they can return it. Then the serving team must also let the ball bounce once before they hit it back.

This means that there are two bounces in total before either team can volley (hit the ball before it bounces) without violating the double-bounce rule. This essentially erases the serve and volley advantage and results in a longer and more competitive rally!

Serve Direction

When serving, players must also be aware of which direction they should be aiming for.

Serves must go diagonally across from one side of the court to another – so if you’re standing behind your baseline on the right side of the court facing your opponent, you would aim towards the left-hand corner of their court.

If you do not land the ball in the crosscourt service box this would constitute a fault and result in losing your serve.

The Net

The serve cannot touch the net. If the serve touches the net and lands in the correct service box, it is considered a “let” and the serve is replayed without penalty. If the serve hits the net and does not go over or land in the correct service box, then it’s a fault.

Foot Placement

When you serve you need to keep at least 1 foot behind the baseline. Neither of your feet can touch the baseline or the court beyond the baseline until after you’ve made contact with the ball. If the server steps on or over the baseline before making contact with the ball, it is a fault.

Serving Sequence

Serving is a critical part of the pickleball game, and knowing the proper serving sequence is key for players of all levels. In doubles play, both players on the serving team have a chance to serve and score points until a fault is committed, except for the first service sequence of each new game.

To start, the first serve of each side-out is made from the right/even court. If a point is scored, the server switches sides and begins the next serve from the left/odd court. The server will continue to switch back and forth between the even and odd courts with each subsequent point until a fault is committed and the first server loses the serve.

Once the first server loses the serve, their partner then serves from the 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.

When the service goes to the opposition, the first serve is made from the right/even court, and both players on that team have the opportunity to serve and score points until their team commits two faults.

In singles play, the server serves from the right/even court when their score is even and from the left/odd 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.

Understanding the serving sequence is vital for players to keep the game flowing and ensure fair play.

Serving Rules Summary

Knowing the serving rules can be a real asset, giving you an edge over your opponent as you can now focus your time and attention on hitting more aggressive or strategic serves. Now let’s take a look at what would be considered a fault in pickleball to further improve our skills on the court.

Key Takeaway: Serving in pickleball is a precise art that involves a variety of rules and regulations. You need to be mindful of where you serve, how you serve, and even how you position your feet when serving. Knowing the proper serving sequence is also key, as is following the double-bounce rule.


The term “fault” might sound a bit ominous, but it simply means a rule violation that stops play. Clearly that’s our goal, we don’t want to be the one that causes a fault, right?

First things first, when it comes to the ball landing on the court lines, it’s considered “in,” except for the non-volley zone line (or kitchen line) on a serve. If the serve contacts that line, it’s a short serve and results in a fault.

Now, if the receiving team commits a fault, it means a point for the serving team. So, if you’re receiving, make sure you know those rules inside and out!

On the other hand, if the serving team commits a fault, they’ll lose their serve or side out. 

In short, a fault is simply a violation of the rules that stops play. So, stay sharp, stay focused, and above all, stay fault-free!

Key Takeaway: Knowing the rules and avoiding faults can make a big difference in the outcome of the game. It’s important to stay sharp and focused, and always be aware of the boundaries and lines on the court. 

Non-Volley Zone

Get ready to cook up some serious skills in “the kitchen” if you want to play competitive games! The non-volley zone is an area within 7 feet on both sides of the net where you’re not allowed to volley the ball. This is a rule that keeps things fair, preventing players from delivering devastating smashes from within the zone.

So watch your step! If you’re in the non-volley zone when you hit the ball or if you step on the line, it’s considered a fault if you don’t let the ball bounce first. That includes if your momentum carries you into the non-volley zone after volleying the ball. Even if the ball is declared dead before you touch the zone, it’s still a fault.

Don’t worry though, you’re allowed to be in the non-volley zone any other time you’re not volleying the ball. So, next time you’re on the court, remember the rules of the “kitchen” and you’ll be sure to rack up some points!

Check out this blog post that goes in depth about pickleball kitchen rules and strategy!


What are the 5 rules of pickleball?

  1. To serve, use an underhand motion to hit the ball making contact with the ball no higher than your waist with your paddle head below your wrist.
  2. The ball must land inside the correct service box, diagonally across the court.
  3. When serving, one foot must remain behind the baseline until the ball is hit, and players cannot step on the baseline, or on the court in front of the baseline, until after they serve the ball.
  4. In traditional scoring, only the serving team can score a point. In rally scoring, every rally results in a point regardless of the serving team.
  5. Players must hit the ball over the net and it can only bounce once on each side.

What are the 10 rules of pickleball?

  1. The serve must be made underhand and with the paddle head below the wrist at contact.
  2. The serve must land in the correct service box diagonally across the court.
  3. A player must have at least one foot behind the baseline when serving and cannot step on or over the baseline until the ball is struck.
  4. Only the serving team can score a point in traditional scoring. In rally scoring, points are scored on every rally regardless of which team served.
  5. The ball must be hit back and forth over the net without bouncing more than once on each side.
  6. The non-volley zone, also known as “the kitchen,” prohibits volleying from within it or while standing on the non-volley line. The ball must bounce first.
  7. The ball cannot be hit out of bounds or touch the net on the serve.
  8. On a serve, the receiving team must allow the ball to bounce before it can be hit, and then the serving team must do the same. This is the double-bounce rule, to start every serve.
  9. If the ball lands on a line, it is considered in. With the exception being the non-volley or kitchen line on a serve. The serve must clear the kitchen line to be legal.
  10. In doubles play, the serving sequence starts with the right-hand court and each player on the serving team serves until a fault is committed.


Learning the rules of pickleball is essential to having a successful and enjoyable game.

Knowing how to score, serve, volley and recognize out-of-bounds will help players stay on top of their game while ensuring that everyone has an equal chance at success. With these key points in mind, you can now start playing pickleball with confidence.

If you’re looking for advice on the rules of pickleball, then look no further! This blog provides comprehensive information to help you become a master of this popular sport.

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