What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a cross between tennis, table tennis and badminton. It is played on a court slightly smaller than a tennis court with wooden paddles and a plastic whiffle ball. The object of the game is to hit the ball so that your opponent is unable to hit it back over the net.


The court is a hard surface with lines marking a rectangle 44 feet long by 20 feet wide. The service courts extend 15 feet from the end line and each is half the court wide. In front of the service court is a nonvolley zone. A 3-foot high net separates the sides.


Pickleball is played with a wooden racket that resembles an overgrown table tennis paddle. There is a strap on the handle to attach the racket to the wrist to prevent the racket from flying out of the player’s hand. The ball is made of plastic and is perforated to allow airflow through the ball as it flies. This allows a player to impart spin on the ball that can make it curve several feet during the flight path of the ball.


A game consists of 11 points, and only the serving team may score. Play starts with an underhand serve from behind the end line diagonally across the court. It must bounce in the opposite service court before being returned. Once returned, the ball must bounce on the serving team’s side of the court before the server may return it. This is known as the double bounce rule. The only difference between singles and doubles is that a fault on the serve in singles results in the other team serving. In doubles, a fault results in the partner serving if he has not served yet in that rotation. This is true each time that a team serves, with one exception. The first team to serve in a game is only allowed to have one player serve before the serve goes to the other team.


A player cannot volley the ball (hit it without letting it bounce) in the nonvolley zone at any time. In order to volley the ball, both of the player’s feet must remain totally behind the line creating the nonvolley zone.

Also, a ball that hits the hand that holds the racket is in play as long as it goes over the net without being hit again. The free hand cannot be used in this manner.


Much like tennis, pickleball is often played at sites consisting of several courts in a small area. Because of this, the players must remember some courtesies of the game. Players should not walk behind other courts while a point is being played on that court to retrieve a ball. In order to make sure that the opponent is prepared to receive a serve, players should call out the score before serving. In pickleball, a player, or team, is often relied upon to call balls in or out. Remembering that the lines of the court are in, players should perform this task honestly.