Rules of Pickleball: Simple Explanation [Rules Summary]

Serving the ball and running after it is the most basic element of pickleball. Sounds easy, right? However, the truth is that there are so many different kinds of pickleball rules that it can get overwhelming. Well, considering there are over 80 different rules for pickleball and almost as many variations of each game, it might be best to start with a simple base and build from there. That’s where we have created this pickleball rules guide that will come in handy. These rules are specifically designed with newcomers like you in mind so that you won’t feel lost at first. From the basic rules that show who can play and how the game works to more advanced topics such as strategies for each type of player, this guide has everything a pickleball newbie needs to get started right away!

Rules of Pickleball: Simple Explanation [Rules Summary]

The Pickleball Rules

The rules for pickleball are simple. The object is to score points by keeping the opponents (the opposing team) from intercepting the shot and returning the ball.

Each player on your team gets one ball, and they are required to use it only to pass the ball back and forth between themselves and their opponents.

pickleball court zones

If you play pickleball for fun or competition, you’ll want to know the right rules so that you can keep your opponent(s) at bay.


There are a variety of different pickleball rules, but in this article, we will be discussing common rules based on variations of American Pickers that we have seen in actual games.

You don’t have to be a statistics whiz to play pickleball, so long as it’s legal according to the officials of the match you are playing. Let’s take a look at some basic rules of pickleball.

Basic Rules

Before playing the game, these are the rules you must be aware of;

  • The size of a pickleball court must be 44 feet by 20 feet. On each side of the net, there is a kitchen zone of seven feet.
  • A game of pickleball is either played by two (singles) or four players(doubles).
  • The dimensions and types of the court and equipment are similar for both singles and doubles.

Scoring Rules

The scoring rules of pickleball can be quite confusing for some beginners. Therefore, we have summarized the scoring rules into these four points.

  • In a normal match, the game of pickleball is played until one team has reached 11 points. This team must have a lead of two points.
  • Other options for points are 15 or 21, which are usually used in tournament matches.
  • Points can only be gained by the serving team. These points are gained when the recipient team makes any fault.
  • However if the serving team commits a fault, the reception team will be awarded the serve. This will give them a chance to win more points.


If these rules are still confusing you, then let’s try to understand the method of calling out the score. Hopefully, it will help you to grasp the basics of scoring in pickleball.

Suppose a doubles match is going on and the server calls out the score as 7-6-1. Here 7 is the score of the serving team and 6 is the score of the recipient team, while 1 is the server number.

Pickleball Serve Rules

The game of pickleball is always started with a service where one player has to strike the ball to initiate the game.

Every player has to make a service in the game, therefore, you must learn the basic pickleball serving rules to get started;

  • Only one serve attempt is allowed per server.
  • The server must call out the score before hitting the ball
  • The serve must be made when the player is standing behind the baseline. The server’s feet or even the tip of their shoes must not touch the baseline while making a serve.
  • Serve must be made in a way that the contact of the ball with the hand must be made below the waist.
  • In the recent edition of the pickleball guideline book, drop serve has also been permitted.
  • When the service is made, the ball must reach the inside of the diagonal court.

Let’s try to understand the rules for pickleball serve with a proper scenario. You are supposed to initiate the game by making the serve. Now you might be getting sweaty and tense, but there’s no need to worry.

double serving in pickleball

All you have to do is to stand behind the baseline and keep the paddle below your waist. Keep your eyes on the target, which in our case is the diagonal court. Hit the ball with proper technique and you are good to go!

Two Bounce Rule in Pickleball

When the ball is in the air after the service, it is time to initiate the 2 bounce rule in pickleball! This one is a simple rule as well. This is a pickleball singles rule, as well as pickleball rules doubles.

When the ball is served, the recipient team has to let it bounce once before hitting it. Now when the ball has returned to the serving team, they will also have to let it bounce.

Now that two bounces have been completed, you can continue a simple game with the shots of your preference. The bounce rule is implemented to extend the time of a rally.

NVZ Rules

NVZ is the abbreviation of Non-Volley Zone and is commonly known as the kitchen. It is present on both sides of the net and covers seven feet of the area starting from the net till the start of the center line.

Since it is a non-volley zone, you can not play a volley shot here. For beginners, a volley is a shot that’s returned in the air without letting the ball bounce on the ground.

non volley zone rule pickleball 1

Pickleball violations are quite common and sometimes unexpected too. Therefore, you must be also mindful of these rules;

  • It will be a fault if you step on the non-volley line while playing the volley shot.
  • A fault will also occur when the shirt, shoes, or paddle of the player has made contact with the kitchen while playing the volley.

Unwritten Rules

The unwritten rules of pickleball are included under the umbrella of pickleball etiquette. Although the violation of these rules won’t cause a fault, it will be considered unethical.

So to play a fair and square game, follow the unwritten rules. Some of these are mentioned below;

  • Call out your fault whenever you commit it.
  • Before serving the ball, make sure that the other person is well prepared for it.
  • Instead of mocking or bullying them, you can give tips to the less experienced players.
  • Do not cheer when the other players have messed up as it is will be extremely rude and unethical.

paddle tap pickleball etiquette


What Are 10 Key Rules to Pickleball?

Although there are numerous pickleball rules, these are 10 keys rules that you must be aware of;
  1. The server must call out the score before every serve.
  2. After calling out the score, it is important to stick to the 10 seconds rule.
  3. The serve has to be an underhand stroke.
  4. Serve must be made by standing outside the baseline.
  5. Two bounces rule is important to start the momentum of the rally.
  6. You can not play a volley in the kitchen zone.
  7. The ball must stay inside the boundaries of the court.
  8. Only the serving team can win the point.
  9. A typical game ends at 11 points. However, some matches might extend to 15 or 21 points.
  10. The unspoken rules or the pickleball etiquette must be followed.

What Are 5 Common Mistakes That a Beginner Pickleball Player Often Makes?

These are the 5 common mistakes that are often made by beginners;
  • Don't read and memorize all of the pickleball rules before playing the game. Also, many beginners are not mindful of the rules while playing the game, which leads to a fault.
  • Many beginner players don't pay attention to the movement of the ball, therefore, they fail to generate spins or other tricks on the ball.
  • They try to smash the ball earlier and harder. Both of these situations usually occur due to a loss of focus.
  • Have a poor serving technique, which often leads to a fault in the first seconds of the match.
  • Kitchen mistakes are also very common among beginners who don't abide by the kitchen rules.

What Are 3 Faults in Pickleball?

These are the 3 fault rules in pickleball;
  • If the receiving team makes a fault, the serving team will win a point.
  • If the fault is made by the serving team, then the receiving team might only receive a serve.
  • The fault causes the game to stop temporarily until the points or serve are given to a team.

Can You Wear a Glove in Pickleball?

Yes, you can wear gloves in a pickleball game. Many pro players wear the gloves to be more comfortable and most importantly, have more control and grasp over the paddle.

What is the 10 Seconds Rule in Pickleball?

A server has 10 seconds to make a service once the score is called out. If a player fails to stick to the 10-second rule, it will be a fault.


We tried to provide a compact summary of the official pickleball rules that are mentioned in the rulebooks of the national and international authorities.

If we missed any important rule, please mention it in the comment section. Also, we would love to know about your favorite pickleball rule, so drop it in the comments as well.

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