The Pickleball Dictionary slides in to the “S’s”! Let’s breakdown some of the common phrases, words, people, or organizations found in, on, and around the pickleball courts that start with the letter “S.”
Sanctioned – The USA Pickleball Association sanctions pickleball tournaments around the country. This means that (1) the tournament and the players are covered by certain insurance; (2) all players are USA Pickleball members; (3) the tournament uses the USA Pickleball Tournament Player Ratings to properly seed all players; (4) the tournament follows the USA Pickleball rules; and (5) at a minimum, all of the medal matches will have a referee.
Sarah Ansboury – Sarah Ansboury is a top pickleball pro and coach, who found pickleball in 2014 after a great tennis playing career and coaching career. Sarah is now a full-time pickleball pro player and coach, and known for her input in shaping the coaching certification program with the Professional Pickleball Registry.
Score – The score is announced before every point on the pickleball courts. In singles, the score will have two digits—the server’s score and then the receiver’s score. In doubles, the score will have three digits—the serving team’s score, the receiving team’s score, and then whether the first or second server is serving.
Self-Rating – A self-rating is exactly what it sounds like. It is a rating that a player gives himself or herself. A self-rating is usually the first brush of a rating, which is then altered over time based on tournament and other play results. To learn what each rating means, and understand where you may fall on the rating scale, visit https://www.usapa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/USAPA-Skill-Rating-Definitions-2019.pdf.
Selkirk – Selkirk is one of the premiere pickleball paddle companies in the world. Selkirk is owned and operated by the Barnes family out of Idaho. Check out Selkirk and its products at https://www.selkirk.com/.
Serve – Pickleball uses an underhand serve (unlike tennis, which has an overhand serve). The rules of pickleball require the serve to be hit below your waist with your paddle head in a downward position. With these basic rules in mind, there are many different options for the serve in pickleball—inside out, top spin, flat, lob, power, etc. To learn how to perfect your serve on the pickleball court, check out Pickler’s My Pro Pickleball Coach online video lessons.
Server Number – When playing doubles in pickleball, each team generally has two service turns per team (except for the first team to start the game, who only has one service turn). A server number is the number that communicates whether you are the first server for your team, or the second server for your team. To note, since the first team to start a game on the pickleball courts only has one service turn, the score to start the game is 0-0-2 (2 meaning the second server).
Serving Area – When hitting the serve, the pickleball player must be in the proper serving area. The serving area is the area behind the baseline and between the center line on the pickleball court and the nearest sideline to the server.
Shot – A shot is a hit of the pickleball. There are dozens of different types of shots on the pickleball, including serves, returns, drops, drives, dinks, volleys, lobs, overheads, misdirection shots, Ernes, around-the-post shots, poaches, etc.
Shot Selection – Shot selection is paramount on the pickleball courts. What you shot pick at any given moment could win or lose a point for a pickleball player. To learn some strategies to improve your shot selection on the pickleball courts, check out Pickler’s My Pro Pickleball Coach online video lessons.
Side Out – Side out is the term used to refer to the end of a team’s service turn on the pickleball courts. On a side out, the service switches to the other team/player on the pickleball courts.
Sidelines – Sidelines are the lines on the sides of the pickleball court. Each sideline on the pickleball court is 44 feet long, as a pickleball court is 44 feet long by 20 feet wide.
Singles – Singles pickleball is a game of pickleball between one player on each side of the pickleball court. Singles pickleball is a very different game than doubles pickleball, as the strategy of the game is much different. Every shot is up to you, as you are alone on your side of the pickleball court, and every shot is a one-yard race between you and your opponent.
Skill Level – A skill level is a two- or four-digit number that represents your rating or level in comparison to other pickleball players. The UTPR is the official USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating. To learn more about the UTPR and your skill level, visit https://www.usapa.org/usapa-tournament-player-ratings-faq/ and https://www.usapa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/USAPA-Skill-Rating-Definitions-2019.pdf.
Skinny Singles – One of the best drills in pickleball is skinny singles. Skinny singles only requires you and one other player. You can play skinny singles straight on or cross court (be sure to try all combinations!).
Slice – A slice will generate backspin on the pickleball. This backspin will cause the pickleball to be slower than your basic forehand drive, tend to cause the pickleball to lift or rise a little in the air, and could cause the pickleball to skip upon contact with the court surface and otherwise create difficulties for your opponents in trying to hit your shot. To learn how to perfect a forehand and backhand slice, check out Pickler’s My Pro Pickleball Coach online video lessons.
Smash – A smash is a hard shot on the pickleball courts. A strong overhead is commonly referred to as an overhead smash.
Sobek's – Rosti and William Sobek are a father-son dynamic duo, who recently won gold at the US Open Pickleball Championships in the 5.0 Men's Doubles division in 2019. Rosti and William run a pickleball academy in Key West.
Social – Pickleball is a unique sport because of its social element. The culture and community around pickleball are both extremely social—oftentimes, pickleball players will not allow a stranger to pass a pickleball court without inviting him or her on to the pickleball court to try to the sport with a funny name.
Socks – Whether you are hitting a dink, volley, or overhead at the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen Line, try hitting the pickleball down toward your opponents’ socks, especially on their respective backhand side. Shots at your opponents’ socks will be more difficult for your opponents to dig out and keep the point alive. So, aim for and hit socks!
Soft Shot – A soft shot is a shot focused on finesse and placement, rather than brut strength (like a drive). A soft shot could be a drop shot, a drop volley, a dink, or any other slower-paced shot.
Speed – Speed on the pickleball court—whether with your feet, your hands, or the pace you put on the pickleball—can be a gamechanger.
Spin – There are a variety of types of spins that a pickleball player can put on the pickleball, including top spin, backspin/slice, and side spin. Be sure to recognize the spin on the pickleball and quickly discern what the spin will do to the pickleball. To learn how to recognize spin and understand what the spin does to the pickleball, check out Pickler’s My Pro Pickleball Coach online video lessons.
Split Stop or Split Step – A split stop (also known as a split step) is a power position that allows you to remain balanced, change direction, and react to the pickleball hit by your opponents. It is an athletic position where your knees are bent, your feet are shoulder width apart with your weight on the balls and insides of your feet, and your body is compressed. A split stop or split step is comparable to an athletic stance in other sports, such as baseball or football.
Sport – Pickleball is a sport that combines various elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis.
Sportsmanship – Pickleball is a sport that emphasizes sportsmanship on every level. This is evident from the paddle tap of all players after every match, including every tournament match and every recreational match.
Stacking – Stacking is a strategy that can be used to keep you and your partner on the same side of the pickleball court throughout the game. In other words, you and your partner avoid switching sides of the court on every point won. To learn how, why, and when to stack, check out Pickler’s My Pro Pickleball Coach online video lessons.
(Brian) Staub – Brian Staub, home to The Villages, Florida, is a top pickleball pro and coach, who commonly plays on the senior pro circuit. Brian has won countless medals, including gold medals at the USA Pickleball National Championships, Tournament of Champions and the US Open Pickleball Championships.
Steve Kennedy – Steve Kennedy, a former professional tennis player and coach, is a top pickleball pro and coach from Davie Florida, who has won countless medals, including gold medals at the USA Pickleball National Championships, Tournament of Champions and the US Open Pickleball Championships. Steve is also one of the best coaches in the sport of pickleball and inspiration for Pickler’s My Pro Pickleball Coach online video lessons.
Strategy – Strategy on the pickleball court can revolutionize your pickleball game. Strategy can be the difference between winning and losing a point, or even the entire match. To learn strategies in all situations, and against various types of opponents, on the pickleball court, check out Pickler’s My Pro Pickleball Coach online video lessons.
Streaming – Streaming is frequently the medium of choice to broadcast live play on the pickleball courts, whether it be at tournaments or during recreational play.
Strength – Strength can be a contributing factor to solid pickleball play. Strength can help a pickleball player hit the pickleball with more force, and can help pickleball players endure long days on the pickleball court.
Stretch – Stretching is key prior to playing pickleball in order to avoid injury.
Sweet Spot – The sweet spot of a pickleball player’s paddle—i.e. the middle—will cause more consistent, solid contact of the pickleball. Try to avoid striking the pickleball off-center or with the edges of your pickleball paddle.
Swing Volley – A swing volley is a shot where you see you have a clear put away on a pickleball that is attackable. This is essentially a kill shot, as you are trying to win the point.
Switch – A switch is where you and your partner switch sides of the pickleball court. A switch can be effective in several situations on the pickleball court, including chasing down a tough lob, when you and your partner are stacking, or if you and your partner want to give you opponents a “different look” on the pickleball court, as your opponents are targeting a weakness in, or a specific matchup against, you or your partner.
Can you think of any more pickleball “S’s” to add? Share with us in the comments below!