How to Play Pickleball?

How to Play Pickleball?

Okay, you want to stay on top of the trends and learn how to play THE fastest-growing sport in the country. Whether you're an absolute beginner or a pro player looking to refresh the basics before a game, Kona has you covered. We serve not only the best pickleball paddles but also pickleball facts, so here are some tips on how to play Pickleball: 


1) Understanding the pickleball court

The pickleball court is laid out identically for both singles and doubles play. It is a rectangle measuring 44 feet in length and 20 feet in width, which is the same size as a doubles badminton court and approximately 1/4 the size of a tennis court. The sidelines are situated along the longer edges of the court, while the baselines are located at the shorter ends.

The court is divided in the middle by a net, which stands 36 inches tall at the sidelines and 34 inches tall at the center.

Each half of the court includes a 7-foot by 20-foot area directly in front of the net known as the non-volley zone (NVZ), more commonly referred to as "the kitchen." As the term "non-volley zone" suggests, players are prohibited from hitting a volley (a shot taken before the ball bounces) while within this zone.

The area between the kitchen and the baseline is split lengthwise into two service boxes by the centerline. The line that separates the kitchen from the service boxes is called the non-volley zone line, or simply the kitchen line.

2) How to serve in pickleball

Similar to tennis and badminton, a pickleball game begins with a serve. While the serve is a graceful motion to observe, it's not necessarily simple to execute. Here are the fundamental rules you should understand to start serving:

  • Serving into the service box diagonally, or crosscourt, is required. The kitchen, or non-volley zone, must be cleared for your serve to bounce in the service box diagonally across from you on the other player's side of the court. The serve is deemed in if it falls on the baseline, centerline, or sideline. It's a fault if it lands on the kitchen line. The path of a serve into the appropriate service box is depicted in the image below.

  • The ball must go over the net during a serve. If the serve hits the net and doesn't go over, that's a fault. If the serve touches the net but still lands in the correct area, it's okay and the game continues. If it hits the net and goes out of the correct area, it's a fault.
  • When serving, you need to hit the ball from below your waist with an upward motion. You must serve underhand in pickleball, making sure the paddle is not higher than your wrist.
  • If you're using a serve where the ball bounces first, you can't push the ball up or down. You can hit the ball directly out of the air without letting it bounce by either tossing or dropping it with your other hand, or you can let it bounce first but you can’t push it up or down. This type of serve is called a drop serve.
  • You must serve from behind the baseline and within the area that extends from the centerline to the sideline. When you hit the ball, you cannot have either foot inside the court, and at least one foot must be on the ground behind the baseline—you can't jump from both feet. You also can't serve from far to the side; you need to be directly behind your side's service box.
  • You only get one chance to serve. If your serve hits the net or goes out of the court, you lose that serve and don't get another try.

3) The two-bounce rule

After the ball is served, the receiver must wait for the ball to bounce before hitting it back. The server (or serving team) must also let the ball bounce once before they can return it. After these initial bounces, players can choose hit the ball directly out of the air before it bounces, which is called volleying, or simply wait to the ball bounce. 

This is know as the "two-bounce rule" and is a key aspect of pickleball. It prevents players from using a "serve-and-volley" tactic from tennis, where a player serves strong and quick moves forward to volley. This rule assures that in pickleball, the receiving team does not have an initial disadivantage.

Starting positions

The server is the only player required to stand in any particular place on the court when the point begins. However, the two-bounce rule influences where the other three players should stand at the start of the point.

Here’s the breakdown for each player:

The server has to be positioned behind the baseline. The server is required by the regulations to serve from behind the baseline and in between the fictitious sideline and centerline extensions.

The server's partner need to remain at or close to the baseline as well. Once more, in accordance with the two-bounce regulation, the serving team must wait to hit the return until it has bounced. The serving team will aim to stay as far back as possible if the return is hit deep in order to avoid having to backpedal in order to hit the ball.

First receiver: Positioned behind the baseline. The recipient cannot return a serve until the serve has bounced twice, according the two-bounce rule. Also, the recipient ought to remain well behind the

Second receiver: Stands up at the kitchen line. Because the two-bounce rule affects only the serving team and the receiver, the receiver’s partner doesn’t worry about it and instead focuses on being in the most offensive position at the kitchen line, ready to volley the next ball that comes to them.

In summary, these are the basic rules you need to start playing pickleball. Now that you understand the fundamentals, you can explore the more complex aspects of the game. Head to the nearest pickleball court to see for yourself why pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the US.

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