Rules of Pickleball | How it is Played?

At first glance, one may think this is kind of tennis but it is not. Pickleball is also a physically tough game like tennis and demands a certain level of agility to compete in it.

It is a paddle ball sport made from elements of table tennis and standard level tennis. The dimensions of the court and playing area are also very similar but when it comes to popularity, it is not really popular as tennis is.

Rules of Pickleball

Compared to tennis, it is a relatively young game, invented in the 1960s, it is a game that is played for entertainment during leisure hours by kids and adults. It remains an ungoverned body and no governing body means the rules of the game can be molded as per your preferences and comfort.

Object of Playing Pickleball

The object of pickleball is the same as we have in tennis, you have to score more points than your opponent. Like tennis, it is also played with a ball and a racquet.

Both the players have their own halves and the game can be played in one set. The first player/team to reach the decided number of points with 2 points lead is declared winner.

How to Play?

Pickleball is played with a tennis racquet and pickleball ball. Both contestants have their own sides, the whole court is divided by a net. There are some markings which dictate from where the service can be taken and in doubles, a certain sequence is to be followed while hitting the ball. Despite the fact it sounds similar to Tennis, both games are quite different from each other.

Curious to learn the rules of this game? Find out everything from point scoring to fouls in general rules of Pickleball mentioned below.

General Rules of Pickleball

  • The game can be played as singles and doubles as well.
  • You must let the ball bounce once in your court before hitting. This is true for either side after the serve. Once both teams have let the ball bounce and then hit it, now they can volley the ball as well or just continue playing by letting it bounce.
  • The ball must be served diagonally and underhand. While serving, both feet must be behind the backline.
  • In doubles, both players on each side of the net have their own zones. If the ball is served to player A’s zone on one side, only player A can hit. If his partner mistakenly hits the ball, a point will be given to the opposite side.
  • The serve must not land in the kitchen area.
  • There are no points taken for wrong service. You have to keep trying until you get the service right.
  • Only the serving side can score points.
  • The service side can score a point whenever their opponent fails to return the ball, hits the ball out of bounds or steps in the non volley zone to volley the ball.
  • Serves are taken one by one, alternatively, except the first service which is decided on coin toss.


Though it’s not an official rule but to decide who will take the first serve, a coin or racquet toss can be held and the winner will be given the option to either choose the side or take the first serve.

The game is yet to establish itself as an internationally recognized game with an official set of rules, that’s why this kind of approach can be taken in deciding trivial matters like service and sides.

Time Duration of a Pickleball Game

Time duration of Pickleball depends upon the competitiveness of the game and how long it takes for one team to reach the threshold of winning points. One sided games can end up in less than 15-20 minutes while close games can stretch to an hour.

Pickleball Field

Pickleball is played on a rectangular 44 foot by 20 foot court. The court is divided into two halves by a net (no specific dimensions for the net).

There are two baselines and two sidelines. On either side of the net, there are two non-volley lines forming an area, kitchen. Or in other words, on either side of the net, there is an area called kitchen where a player can’t step in to hit the ball.

In case of doubles, these two halves are further divided into left side and right side each. In each of these sides, players stand and hit the ball.

Pickleball Playing Equipment

Equipment needed for Pickleball are a racket, pickleball and a net. Although there are no specific dimensions for them due to the absence of one governing body, I’m giving you a general idea of their dimensions.

Pickleball ball: The ball is usually made of plastic and is very similar to wiffle ball. It weighs between 78 and 935 ounces and has a diameter between 2.784 and 2.972 inches.

Racquet: Pickleball racquets are also called paddle and a general size paddle measures approximately 8 inches wide by 15¾ inches long (20.32 cm x 40 cm).

Volley in Pickleball

In pickleball, the term volley refers to hitting the ball directly, without letting it bounce in your net. It is legal in Pickleball unlike in tennis.

Point Scoring & Winning

For a more comprehensive idea of how games are won and how points are scored, I’m explaining both the things together.

  • Points can only be scored by the server when the opponent fails to return the ball, volley the ball in the non-volley zone and when the opponent hits the ball out of bounds.
  • If the non server makes any of the above mistakes, no point is scored.
  • The game is won by the side that reaches the 11 points first and is leading by at least 2 points. If they have reached the 12th point but with only a 1-point lead, they’d still have to score another point to get the lead and win the match.
  • A pickleball game can’t end in a draw.

Governing Body

As mentioned in the beginning, there’s no governing body of the game. But, in the coming years, we can expect to have one given the pace at which the game is spreading in the different regions of the globe.