How to Play Pickleball & Love Pickleball

The Rules of Pickleball

by Stacie Townsend

The Rules of Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

The rules of pickleball are set forth in the Official Rulebook of Pickleball, which is produced by the USA Pickleball Association as the rule-setting body for the sport of pickleball. 

There are lots of situations and circumstances that could play out on the pickleball court, and the Official Rulebook of Pickleball covers most, if not all, of these situations and circumstances. However, to get started playing pickleball, or when teaching others to play pickleball for the first time, there are a few essential rules to cover that make pickleball truly unique:

  1. The Serve in Pickleball Must be Underhand. To start a point in pickleball, the serving player must serve the pickleball underhand, which means that the player makes contact with the pickleball below his or her waist, with the head of the paddle below his or her wrist. The pickleball must travel crosscourt into the opposite serving area, which is the area between the baseline and the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen Line.
  2. Both the Serve and the Return of Serve Must Bounce. This is called the 2-bounce or 3-hit rule in the sport of pickleball. After the serve and return of serve, either team or player may volley the pickleball. In other words, after the serve and return of serve, either team or player may hit the pickleball either in the air or after a bounce. To note, if the pickleball bounces twice, then the point is over. 
  3. Be Aware of the Non-Volley Zone (also known as the Kitchen). The Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen is the 14-foot area in the middle of the court, which extends 7 feet on either side of the pickleball net. You may not volley (i.e. hit the pickleball in the air and without a bounce) the pickleball while making contact with the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen. Contact with the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen includes standing in the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen, dropping your paddle or hat into the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen, or allowing your momentum to carry you into the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen after you hit the pickleball outside of the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen. To note, reaching over the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen Line above the surface area of the court to hit the pickleball is permitted. Also, to note, you may hit the pickleball in the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen after the pickleball has bounced, and you may generally stand in the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen (although, not recommended) as long as you are not volleying the pickleball. Again, to be making contact with the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen, you must make contact with the ground with any part of your body, paddle, or clothing. This includes both at the time you are making contact with the pickleball and after you make contact with the pickleball if your momentum carries you into the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen. In other words, it is a fault if your momentum carries you into the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen even if you make contact with the pickleball outside of the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen.

The rules of pickleball, like other sports, continue to evolve as unique situations and circumstances arise. 

Do you have a pickleball rules question? Feel free to email stacie@thepickler.com and we will do our best to help!




Stacie Townsend
Stacie Townsend

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