Basic Pickleball Rules for Beginners That Fit on a Napkin.

Pickleball rules for beginners are so simple, they can fit on a napkin. Please observe above, exhibit a). That means absolutely anyone can play. But if you want to delve a little deeper, there are a few more things you should know.

Feel free to read on or skip ahead.

Why Play Pickleball?

Pickleball is a low impact paddle sport that is slowly becoming the fastest growing sport in the world.  Pickleball is easy to pick up and play for all skill levels in all age groups.  With a small learning curve and simple rules, this brief introduction will get you started on your pickleball journey in no time. That is WHY you should at least give Pickleball a try.

pickleball rules for beginners on a napkin
It’s true… The Pickleball rules can fit on a napkin and taken to a game in your pocket.

What Are the Pickleball Basics?

Pickleball is played indoors or outdoors, as long as the court is a hard surface so that the ball can bounce.  Pickleball matches can be played as singles or doubles.  And pickleball uses a solid paddle to hit a plastic “whiffle” ball over a net. 

Tell Me About the Pickleball Court

Pickleball is played on a rectangular court that is 13.41 metres by 6.1 metres (44 feet by 20 feet).  The court is divided into two sides by a low net.

pickleball rules for beginners court dimensions

There are two sidelines, two baselines and a non-volley zone located between the net and the service area called the “kitchen”.  The center line divides each side into two service courts, the left service court and the right service court.

How to Serve in Pickleball

Every point in pickleball begins with a serve. A pickleball serve must be hit underhand from behind the baseline cross court diagonally into the opposing team service court. The serve must clear the net and not land in the kitchen (the non-volley zone). 

If the serve fails to clear the net and land in the correct serving area, a Service Fault will be called.  This will result in a loss of serve.

What is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball?

Pickleball has a double bounce rule where once the ball is served, the ball must bounce once on each side before either player may start volleying the ball in the air.   

After the ball has bounced on both sides, both players can move closer to the net and volley the ball into the air or let the ball bounce once before striking it. The rally will continue until one of the players either hits the ball out of bounds or lets the ball bounce on their side twice.

The serve and bounce rule is explained below with an example. 

  • Player A serves to Player B
  • Player B must let the ball bounce once before the serve can be returned.
  • Player A must also let the ball bounce once on their side before returning the ball
  • Player B can now move into the Net and begin volleying the ball
pickleball rules for beginners - double bounce rule

How to Win in Pickleball

Every rally in Pickleball begins with a serve, and only the serving team can score a point by winning a rally.  If the serving team faults or misses the ball, they lose their service.  Players alternate serves and the first team to reach 11 points wins the game only if they are 2 points ahead.  For example, 11-9. 

What is the Non-Volley Zone

A unique but important aspect of Pickleball is the non volley zone which is also known as “the kitchen”. Players can not step into the kitchen area to volley the ball.

However, if the ball bounces in the non-volley zone, you are allowed to run into the non-volley zone to hit t he ball. For example, if your opponent hits a drop shot and you are forced to run towards the net to hit the ball back. This is allowed.

Best way to think about the non-volley zone is as the name implies, there is no volleying allowed within the area.

Final Thoughts

Pickleball is a fun and exciting new sport. The rules above are a simplified version that should get you started and involved in this fantastic game. 

For a complete set of rules, please reference the official USA Pickleball rulebook found via this link. Beware, it is 86 pages long and not a light read for a bathroom break.

Good Luck.

The Aussie Pickleball Bros.


What is a Side Out?

A side out is called when the serving team faults and loses their serve to the opposing team.

What is a Fault

A fault is a rule violation that ends a rally and results in a “dead ball”.

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