OBJECTIVE OF PICKLEBALL: Be the first team to score 11 points by hitting the ball over the net with your racket.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 or 4 players, 1 or 2 on each team
MATERIALS: 1 pickleball racket per player, 1 pickleball, 1 pickleball net
TYPE OF GAME: Sport
OVERVIEW OF PICKLEBALL
Pickleball is generally played as a doubles game but can also be played 1 vs 1. The game is played in a similar style to tennis but with a smaller court and a few different rules. One team serves the ball and the other attempts to return the ball back to the other team without hitting it out of bounds or faulting.
Pickleball is played on a 20-foot by 44-foot court that is split in half with a net that goes across the width of the court. On either side of the net is a 7-foot wide non-volley zone or “kitchen”. Players are not able to hit the ball from the non-volley zone.
On each half of the court behind the non-volley zone are two adjacent 15-foot by 10-foot sections called the service court. The right service court on each side is the even side and the left side is the odd side.
A pickleball game starts with one team serving and the other team receiving. Before serving, the server will announce the score as follows:
Their team’s score – the other team’s score – the number of the server (for doubles only)
Each player on a team gets a chance to serve before the serving is turned over to the other team. The serving always starts on the right side of the court and changes to the left side after a fault is made. The server must stand behind the back line when serving and the service must be done underhand. The server should hit the ball diagonally from their side of the court, over the net, past the non-volley zone, and to the opposite quadrant of the court.
When a fault is made from the opposing team, the server continues to serve but switches to the other service court. When a fault is made by the server’s team, the serving is turned over to the other teammate, if they haven’t yet served.
The players on each team are labeled as server 1 and server 2. Server 1 always serves first, except for the first serve of the game.
The team that serves first in a game only gets 1 serving attempt to prevent creating an unfair advantage.
When a fault is made by the server’s team in a singles game, the serving is turned over to the other team, also called a side out.
Double Bounce Rule
After the serve, the opposing team must allow the ball to bounce on their side once before returning it. The serving team must then allow the ball to bounce once on their side as well. After the ball has bounced once on both sides, the players are able to either volley the ball without letting the ball bounce first or allow the ball to bounce and then return it.
The non-volley zone (or the kitchen) is an area in which you are not allowed to stand in and hit the ball. The ball cannot bounce in this zone on the serve either.
A fault occurs when a player breaks a rule of the game. A fault either results in a point for the serving team or switching servers. Here are the plays that are considered faults in pickleball:
- A player volleys the ball while standing in the non-volley zone.
- The ball is hit out of bounds.
- The ball is hit into the net.
- A player volleys the ball before it has bounced on both sides.
- The serve does not clear the non-volley zone.
A point can only be scored by the serving team in pickleball. Points are scored when the non-serving team makes a fault. If the serving team makes a fault, the result is either switching servers or a side out. A side out is when the serve is turned over to the other team.
For example, the score is 1-1-1, meaning both teams have 1 point and the first server on a team is serving. The server hits the ball and the opposing team returns it but hits it into the net. The serving team scores a point, and now the score is 2-1-1. On the next serve, the server hits the ball into the non-volley zone, which is a fault on the serving team. The serving team switches servers, so the score is now 2-1-2. If the second server on the serving team makes a fault, the opposing team serves.
In a singles game, there is only one player per team, so as soon as there is a fault on the server’s end, a side out is declared.
END OF GAME
A pickleball game is played to 11 points, but the winning team must win by at least 2. So, if the score is 11-10-1, the winning team must score another point to win. Pickleball matches are usually played in a set of best out of 3.