What are the rules of pickleball?
As soon as new players are introduced, it is important to introduce basic Pickleball Rules. The rules of the game are simple and easy to learn and this is one of which the Pickleball is so popular and fun. A new player can learn the basic rules in minutes and be ready to play. Here are the basic rules that you need to know to get started.
If you want to read about what is pickleball and how to choose the best one you should read my great blog post on the Best Pickleball Paddle
How to Play Pickleball Paddle
Know the rules of the game
Pickleball rules are relatively simple because the original goal was to create a sport that would be a family sport. Many of the rules are similar to the rules of tennis, ping pong paddle and volleyball.
The Pickleball Rules have been published by the International Pickleball Federation (FIP) and are known as the “Official FIP Tournament Book”. These official rules must be followed for sanctioned tournaments, but
may also be adapted for non sanctioned tournaments or for recreational play.
Instructors can change rules to accommodate smaller play areas or to accommodate younger players.
The main objective of the game
Instructors and players who want to follow the rules and technical aspects to the letter should refer to the FIP Official Tournament Book.
Double Jump Rules
When serving, the ball must perform a good on each side of the net; it is only afterwards that you can hit the ball on the fly. During the service, the opposing team must let the ball make a good pass before hitting the return. The team performing the service must remain at the back of the field to be able to let the ball jump before hitting the ball. The team that serves can not do the service, get close to the net and hit the ball without making a jump on the return. New players often forget this “double bond” rule and move forward on the field too quickly to hit a return of service that has not bounced back.
Instructors must remind the players on the team that they are serving to remain behind the court until the return of the service has bounced off their side of the court. After the second rebound, teams may hit the ball on a rebound or on the fly.
Controlled Access Zone (CAZ)
The controlled access area is the 7 ‘X 20’ rectangle on each side of the net. This zone was set up to avoid the “smash” at the net to make the Pickleball more interesting for players of all ages. The player must be at the back of the ZAC line to hit the ball on the fly. This regulation reduces the number of “smashes” while reducing the risk of hurting the opposing player.
You can check the USAPA website for terrain dimensions and playground definitions.
A player may not be in contact with the ZAC line or enter the CAZ when hitting on the fly. New players and tennis players have great difficulty adhering to this regulation. No part of your body can cross the ZAC line, even after hitting the ball or if the opposing team misses the ball. No item of clothing, jewel, racket can fall into the ZAC; this is considered a “fault”. A foul is committed when a cap or a racket falls in the ZAC.
This ZAC rule applies only on the fly (when a ball is hit without a rebound). If you hit the ball on the fly, you commit a “foul” as soon as you enter the CAZ, even after the opposing team strikes or even misses the ball. You can hit the ball in the CAZ as soon as it has jumped into the CAZ. You can stay in the ZAC for as long as you want, but you can not hit the ball on the fly.
It is really important to remind the new players of this rule. By avoiding the “smash” at the net, the game is even safer and longer exchanges result.
A Pickleball game is usually 11 points. A gap of 2 points is needed to win a game. Tournament games are 15 or 21 points. Unlike tennis and badminton, only the team that serves can make points. The team receiving the service will be able to earn points once they have returned to the service.
- The team that serves makes a point when the receiving team commits a foul. (Definition of a foul here below)
- The score can be difficult for new players.
- The label wants to pickleball, the server and only the server says pointing. The player who is in the service area on the right side of the field (even side) always starts the exchange. This server is designated as the first server for this exchange only. The next time the team regains the service, the player who will be in the right service area will be designated the first server.
- The sequence for annotating the score is as follows: the points of the team that serves, followed by the points of the receiving team and the server. For example, if the server announces 3, 4, 1 the team that serves 3 points, the team that receives 4 points and we are at the first server. The team that serves changes service area when it makes a point. The
- Note that the server loses service after a fault. The server has only one chance to succeed.
The choice of the first service can be made by firing a coin or by any other method deemed acceptable; if the winner chooses to serve or receive, then the loser chooses the side; if the winner chooses the side, the loser chooses to serve or receive.
The first serve of a game is always the even zone (right zone).
Subsequently, the server alternates between the zones (even and odd) as long as it wins the exchanges. The game ends when a team has 11 points.
The server must point the ball diagonally across the net; there is no rule on the position of the server partner or receivers.
When the team’s score is an even number, the server at the beginning of the game will be in the even zone; when the score of the team is an odd number, the server of the beginning of the game will be in the odd zone.
At the beginning of the game, only one person will do a permitted service before handing over the service to the opposing team following a foul. Afterwards, the two players on the team will serve until everyone has made a mistake during their respective service.
The server alternates from zone (odd-numbered pair) to each point gained; when the service team commits a fault, the service changes crew and it will serve the area where he was at fault; this second server will alternate zones to serve as long as the team accumulates points.
This is a FAULT if the server is serving the wrong zone or if the service is being performed by the wrong crew member. The service is delivered to the second server if such a fault is committed by the first server of the team; if this fault is committed by the second server, the service returns to the opposing team.
A winning point that has been made from the wrong position by the wrong server may be canceled if the error is raised before the acquisition of another point or until the other team has performed a service.
The person who receives the service is placed on the other side of the net in the area diagonally with the server. In doubles, it is from the even zone that the first receiver will take the first serve.
The service is done by hitting the ball under the waist. The racket must be in a lower position than the wrist and the server must be behind the baseline to perform its service. The feet of the server must be outside the court (not touching the baseline) as the ball touches the racket. The ball must be served diagonally on the opposite side and must fall into the service area. The ball can not land in the CAZ or even touch the line of the CAZ during the service.
A service that touches the net and which falls despite everything in the service area is a “Let” and is taken again. Before serving, the server must ensure that all players are ready. Take a few moments to make sure your partner is ready as well as your opponents.
If you receive the service and you or your partner are not ready, raise your hand or racket to let them know. If, despite your gesture, the server sends you the ball, do not take it and ask for a “let”, since you were not ready. Hitting the ball signals that you were ready.
In the absence of officials, when players take responsibility for reporting line fouls, a code of ethics applies:
- the call of the lines is made by the player or team receiving the ball
- the benefit of the doubt is allocated to the player or the opposing team.
- spectators should not be consulted for signaling lines.
- the person announcing the “OUT” must seek the accuracy of his
- the truth of an appeal must never be doubted; players on the other side may only express their opinion if the team receiving the ball requests them. It must ask them if a player from the opposing team was in a better position to see the ball. In this case, the opinion of the opposing team is retained.
- players must be discerning when they are poorly positioned to signal a line; placed in the opposite zone, it is often difficult to report correctly.
- a “LET” or an “OUT” must be reported immediately
- we should not declare an “OUT” and start the game again when it is impossible to determine if the ball is “OUT”; the benefit of the doubt must be allocated to the opposing team.
- In Doubles Rule, when a team member reports that the ball is “OUT” and the other team member says “IN”, the final decision will be in favor of the opposing team.
- Line calls must be reported promptly with the hand or out loud, whether obvious or not.
- If the ball is in the air and a player shouts “Out”, “YES”, “IN”, or any other words to indicate to his partner the position of the ball, it is a communication in the team. The game continues if the ball falls inside and the game is stopped if the call is made after the ball touches the playing area, as this must be considered a line call.
- In Doubles Rule, while the ball is in their direction, if one of the teammates says “LEISSE FALL” or other words, this is considered as communication (signaling) in the team. If a player reports after the ball hits the ground, it is a real line call and the game stops.
Some of the important terms used while playing pickleball paddle
Carry: Striking the ball in such a way that it does not bounce away from the paddle but be likely to be passed along on the face of the paddle during its forward motion.
Cross-court: The court crosswise opposite your court.
Dink Shot: A spineless shot that is planned to arc over the net and land within the non-volley zone.
Double Bounce: A ball that bounces more than once, on one side, before it is returned.
Dead Ball: A dead ball is declared after a fault.
Double Hit: One side striking the ball twice before it is returned over net. Double hits may occur by one player or could include both players on a team.
Drop Shot: A groundstroke shot that falls short of the opponent’s position.
Drop Shot Volley: A volley shot that is planned to “kill” the speed of the ball and return it short, near the net, to an opponent positioned at or near the baseline. This shot is especially effective when initiated close to the non-volley line.
Fault: A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation.
Groundstroke: Hitting the ball after one bounce.
Half Volley: A groundstroke shot where the paddle contacts the ball immediately after it bounces from the court and before the ball rises to its potential height.
Hinder: Any element or occurrence that affects play.
Let: A serve that hits the net cord and lands in the service court. Let may also refer to a rally that must be replayed for any reason.
Lob: A shot that returns the ball as high and deep as possible, forcing the opposing side back to the baseline.
Non-Volley Zone: The section of court adjacent to the net in which you cannot volley the ball. It includes all lines surrounding the zone.
Second Serve: A term used to describe the condition when a serving team begins the game or subsequently loses the first of its two allocated serves.
Overhead Slam / Smash: A hard, overhand shot usually resulting from an opponent’s lob, high return, or high bounce.
Passing Shot: A volley or groundstroke shot that is aimed at a distance from the player and is designed to prevent return of the ball
Permanent Object: Any object near the court or hanging over the court that interferes with the flight of the ball. Permanent objects include the ceiling, walls, fencing, lighting fixtures, net posts, the stands and seats for spectators, the referee, line judges, spectators (when in their recognized positions) and all other objects around and above the court.
Rally: Continuous play that occurs after the serve and before a fault.
Replays: Any rallies that are replayed for any reason without the awarding of a point or a side out.
Service Court: The area on either side of the centerline, bounded by the non-volley line, the baseline, and the sideline. All lines are included in the service court except the non-volley line.
Side Out: Declared after one side loses its service and other side is awarded service.
Technical Foul: The referee is empowered to add one point to a player’s score or a team’s score when the opponent violates one of the rules calling for a technical foul or, in the referee’s judgment, the opponent is being overly and deliberately abusive.
Volley: Hitting the ball in the air, during a rally, before the ball has a chance to bounce onto the court.