how to play
Know Your Court
Parts of the Court
The lines parallel to the net
The lines perpendicular to the net
The line in the center of the court on either side of the net
Invisible lines that continue and extend beyond baselines, sidelines, and centerlines
When facing the net, the service area on the right side of the court
When facing the net, the service area on the left side of the court
Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) / Kitchen
While standing in this zone, a player cannot volley the ball. It is located 7ft to each side of the net. In our courts, it is colored green.
The area beyond the NVZ on either side of the centerline, including the centerline, baseline, and sidelines. In our courts, it is colored blue.
The area behind the baseline and sidelines
Rules of Play
Pickleball is built on cooperation, courtesy, fair play, and good sportsmanship. While there can be competition, the game is meant to be fun for all players.
Scoring & Winning the Game
Main Pickleball Shots
The strike of the ball that begins a rally. See Serving.
Return of Serve
The first groundstroke by the receiving team.
Hitting the ball after the ball has bounced
Hitting the ball before it has bounced in your court. See Volleys.
A lofted shot that sends the ball high overhead and deep into the opponent’s court.
A soft hit of the ball that lands in the Non-Volley Zone
Beginning a Game
At Pickleball Connection, we always have the first server of the game play on the east side of our courts (closest to Two Rivers) and begin in the right serving area.
Before serving, the full score must be called out.
The ball is served underhand and the paddle must contact the ball below the server’s waist.
The ball must land within the diagonal serving court. It may touch the net but must get past the non-volley zone (NVZ) and the NVZ lines.
The server must be in the correct serving area without touching the baseline or the imaginary extensions of centerline or sideline. At least one foot must be on the ground in the serving area when striking the ball.
1 vs 1
If the player’s score is even (0, 2, 4 …), they serve from the right serving area and their serve must land within their opponent’s right service court.
If the player’s score is odd (1, 3, 5 …), they serve from the left serving area and their serve must land within their opponent’s left service court.
The server continues to serve from the appropriate court until they lose the rally or fault. Once that happens, a side-out occurs and their opponent becomes the server.
Calling the score
The server begins with the server’s score and then the receiver’s score as two numbers. (e.g., 1-0 as “one – zero”)
2 vs 2
Both players will serve before a side-out is declared, except at the start of the game, when only one player serves until fault.
Whichever player begins the game and serves the ball is considered Server 2, with their partner designated as Server 1.
Team A – Server 2
Team B – Server 1
Team B – Server 2
Team A – Server 1
Team A – Server 2
The server who starts is the player whose turn it is to be on the right side of the court.
Calling the Score
Scores called out at the beginning of each rally include three numbers. The sequence is: serving team’s score – receiving team’s score – the server number (one or two). (e.g. 3-1-2 as “three – one – two”)
(The game begins with Team A’s server calling the score as 0-0-2.)
A volley is when a player hits the ball without it first landing on their side of the court.
During each rally, you cannot volley before each side has allowed the ball to bounce in their court after the serve. This is known as the two-bounce rule or double bounce rule.
Players are allowed to be in the non-volley zone (NVZ) at any other time, as long as they do not volley the ball.
If any part of you, your clothing, or paddle cross any part of the NVZ lines during or after a volley (because of momentum), this is considered a fault.
Once you have entered the NVZ, you cannot volley until both of your feet have made contact with the playing surface outside of the NVZ. It is still a fault against you if you are inside the NVZ, hit a volley, and land outside the NVZ.
The Two-Bounce Rule
Give players the benefit of the doubt. Bickering over line calls is discouraged. In doubles, either teammate may give calls. They are not limited to give only calls on their side of the centerline.
A ball that strikes the playing surface outside the perimeter lines is considered in if the distance is less than a full ball diameter. Balls further than this should be ruled out by the players on the side where the ball landed. Out call is still valid even if player strikes the ball.
It is considered a fault if the ball contacts any part of the non-volley zone or the NVZ’s line when being served.
All lines around the NVZ are considered to be part of the NVZ.
A fault occurs when:
While in play:
- The ball hits the net and does not cross over to the opponent’s side
- The ball is hit out of bounds or the player hits a ball that lands on the player’s own court
- The ball bounces twice in a court before being struck by a player. (also known as a double bounce)
- the ball strikes a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying
- the exception is the hand that holds the paddle
- the ball strikes any permanent object before bouncing on the court
- the player, player’s clothing, or any part of the player’s paddle touches the net, net post, or opponent’s court
- A player hits a ball before it crosses the net into their court
- The ball hits a permanent object after it has bounced in a player’s court. That player loses the rally.
- A serve does not land within the receiving court
- Serves that land in the non-volley zone (NVZ) are considered short and is a fault
- The server begins play from the wrong serving area
- In Doubles, the incorrect player serves the ball
- The served ball touches the server or their partner and any permanent object before hitting the ground
- In doubles, the incorrect player returns the serve
- The served ball touches the receiver or their partner before it bounces
- The serving ball does not bounce before it is struck. (See two bounce rule.)
- The ball is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side
- The ball is volleyed from the NVZ
- The player steps in or on the line of the NVZ when volleying.
- The player’s momentum causes him/her to enter the NVZ or touch the line after a volley
- Even if the ball is declared dead before the player touches the zone, it is considered a fault
FAULT – Failing to return the ball, hitting the ball out of bounds, and hitting the ball into the net count as faults. See Faults.
PADDLE – What player’s use to hit the ball with
RALLY – Continuous play after the serve and before a fault
SIDE OUT – A term for giving the opposing team the serve after the server loses its serve
LIVE BALL / IN PLAY – The point in time when the server calls the score
DEAD BALL – Occurs after a fault
DOUBLE BOUNCE– The ball bounces twice on one side before being returned. Fault. See two-bounce rule for volleys.
DOUBLE HIT – Hitting the ball twice before it is returned. Fault.
PERMANENT OBJECTS – Any object on, near, or above the court that could interfere with play. This includes ceiling, walls, light fixtures, net posts, net post legs, spectators, sports officials, seats, etc.