Essential Terms for Beginners
Learning about these five basic terms will be enough for anyone who is about to start their pickleball journey;
Pickleball is the ball used for playing the game. This ball is usually made out of plastic and has holes in it. There are 2 types of ball: Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs
Paddles are used for hitting the pickleball. These are similar to the rackets in table tennis but have more strength.
- Read more: “How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle: A Paddle Guide”
The court is the area where players play the game. The official size of a pickleball court in the US is 20 ft wide and 40 ft long. The court has different lines and sections that determine the rules of the game.
- Read more: “Pickleball court Dimensions: Official Size & DIY Court Setup”
Single gameplay is one in which only two players are involved. One player is present on each side of the court.
Doubles is a more common form of pickleball and involves four players. 2 players are present on either side of the court.
Words Related to the Pickleball Court
Two baselines are located parallel to the pickleball court. The game starts when one player makes a serve by standing behind the baseline.
The centerline separates the service area and converts it into the right and left service areas. The centerline in pickleball starts from the middle of a sideline and ends at the non-volley line.
Two sidelines on the pickleball court are present perpendicular to the net.
Located 7 feet away from the net, non-volley lines divide the non-volley zone and service area. The non-volley zone or kitchen is situated on both sides of the court. It is also parallel to the sidelines and the net.
There are four service areas with two service areas on either side of the court. These service courts are called the right service court and the left service court.
No Man’s Land
Also known as transition land, no man’s land is situated between the baseline and the non-volley zone. This is one of the most difficult areas for playing pickleball, so players generally avoid it.
The area between the net and a non-volley line is the non-volley zone. Volleying is prohibited in the non-volley zone.
It is situated near the baseline and a few feet from the courtside.
Cross Court is the area that is diagonal to the area of one player. For instance, cross-court for a player who’s on the right service area would be the right service area of the other side.
Objects other than the main court are known as permanent objects. The objects can be lights, ceilings, nets, stands, referees, viewers, etc.
Common Pickleball Terms for Techniques
A shot made by the player who is running towards the pickleball net.
It’s a technique used to send the ball in the non-volley zone of the opposite team. It can send the ball to the player’s feet and win you a point.
When a player is hit by the ball, this is termed the body bag. This is a technique used to score a point.
Cross Court Dink
It is a form of dink shot that is sent toward the player on the diagonal area or cross-court.
The backhand is a powerful stroke in pickleball. It is made when the player is holding a paddle in such a way that his or her palm is facing the chest and the back of the hand is facing the pickleball net.
Carry is a shot that does not allow the ball to bounce off the paddle. Instead, the player carries the ball on the paddle in the forward stroke.
This is a technique applied for spinning the ball in different directions. This movement involves strategic thinking to move your hand, body, and paddle at a certain angle. Backspin or slice was banned in 2022.
Topspin is quite similar to backspin. The only difference between the two techniques is that topspin requires the ball to spin in the forward direction.
The face of the Paddle
The side of the paddle that is used to make a shot is called the face of the paddle.
In pickleball, Deadball is a ball that can no longer be played. A dead ball is declared in case of a fault or hindrance.
Slammers are players who hit the ball harshly with the paddle. But this technique is not used often as it can drain the energy of a player.
When a ball bounces twice on one side of the court, it is termed a double bounce which is a fault.
Down the Line
Down the line is the shot played parallel to the baseline.
Dropshot is very similar to dink short as it’s also intended to throw the ball at the opponent’s non-volley zone. The only difference is that the drop shot is usually shot near the baseline.
The forehand is opposite to the backhand and is considered the most used movement of the hand in pickleball. In this case, the palms are facing the net and the back of the hand is facing the chest of the player.
If a ball hits twice with the pickleball on one side of the court, it is considered a double hit. A double hit is legal if it’s not deliberate. However, if the double hit is intentional then it is considered a fault.
The drive is a groundstroke that is hit from no man’s land.
Overhead shots are made when the paddle is above the head of a player. This shot allows the player to move the ball downwards so that it hits the foot of the opponent’s player.
Ground Stroke is a shot made after the ball bounces up from the ground.
Half Volley is a type of groundstroke. It is a shot that is made immediately after the ball bounces off the ground. Players don’t need to let the ball reach a large height after bouncing.
A lob is a very high shot. This shot is made in a pickleball game to throw the ball over the opponent’s head, which might earn you a point if they miss it.
Poaching occurs when a player plays the shot of their partner. This usually happens when one player is more skilled and the shot is difficult to play for their partner.
Terminology for Pickleball
This pickleball terminology implies a shot that is made to begin the game. The team who makes the serve wins the point in that round of pickleball. A player has to hit the ball with a paddle to send it diagonally on the opposite side. A serve can not land in opponent’s non-volley zone.
After a serve, both teams have to let the ball bounce on their side before hitting it. The bouncing is only required when they receive the ball for the first time after the serve.
Let is the term used for serving the ball again. This happens when the ball hits the net after the serve. No fault or penalty is declared in this case.
A fault is made when one team misses the ball. If the fault is made by the serving team, they usually lose their next serve. However if the opposing team has broken any rule, then the point will be given to the serving team.
Ace is a service that your opponent can’t hit back. The ace serves to win you a point in pickleball.
Server numbers are given to the players who are serving in doubles. There are two servers i.e. server number one and two on either side of the court. Server number one has to serve the ball first.
A shot that is played before the ball touches the ground is termed a volley shot in pickleball. This shot can’t be played if the player is in the non-volley zone.
Foot Fault occurs when a player makes a prohibited shot due to their foot movement.
When there is a violation of the rules, a foul is declared. If a team makes a foul, they may lose a point.
It is a technique used to trick your opponent. You show that you are throwing the ball in one direction, when in fact the ball will be moved in the other direction.
Rally is a continuous game that occurs between a serve and a fault.
Side out occurs when the opposing team is given the chance to serve the ball. This usually happens when a server loses a point.
Get is a term used when a player shoots a difficult shot.
OPA is shouted after the third shot is hit and the rally continues.
A Nice Setup is a compliment given to the player who manipulates the opponent and wins a point.
This term is used when the player lets the bounce off because it is out of their reach.
This word is shouted when a player or a team wins after a tough match. In Italian, Andiamo means ‘Let’s go’.
When two or more pickleball courts are situated in an area, the ball may bounce into different courts. When the ball from another court comes in, the phrase ‘ball in!’ is shouted. In this situation, the rally is stopped and the game is resumed with a new serve.
When there is a long rally then players of both teams are appreciated with the phrase ‘nice rally’.
A player may get this compliment when they hit a difficult shot.
When a player hits the prohibited shot from the volley zone, it is called the volley llama.
Pickledome is a court where a tournament of pickleball is played.
Flapjack is a shot that must bounce before getting hit. This shot is a part of the bouncing rule.
Junior is a pickleball player who is aged 7-19.
A player may say the word ‘pickle’ to communicate about their services with their partner.
Kitchen is the slang word for the non-volley zone. You’re prohibited from hitting volleys in the kitchen
Smash is the slang word for an overhead shot.
Pickler is a person who is a pickleball enthusiast.
Poach is the slang and shorter word to describe the process of poaching where one player will play the shot of their partner.
When the ball is hit with low power, it may fall. This is termed falafel.
What is a pickle in pickleball
If a team has zero scores by the end of the game, they are called pickled.
We tried to add as many pickleball terms as we could in an organized way. We hope that our list of essential terms will help you ace your next pickleball game.
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