top of page
Irish Pickleball Players

How to Play

Learn the Basics

A Pickleball Court is the same size as a badminton court with an additional non-volley-zone line. The court is split into a two sides by a low net.

 

Points can only be scored by the side that’s serving, and points are scored if the opposing player:

  • Fails to return the ball.

  • Volleys in the non-volley zone.

  • Hits the ball out of bounds.

  • Hits the ball into the net.

  • Volleys the ball before it bounces at least once.

The start of each pickleball game begins with a serve – and the player standing on the right side of the court always serves first. To serve, you must hit the ball underhanded into the opposing player’s court – but importantly, the serve must clear the net and not land in the ‘kitchen’. The ‘kitchen’ is the nickname of the non-volley zone closest to the net. This is marked by a clear line, so you’ll always know where you should and shouldn’t stand.

A crucial pickleball rule is the double bounce rule: this states that the ball must bounce once before either player or team can volley the ball over the net. When returning the serve, the opposing player or team must also let the ball bounce once before returning it over the net. Essentially, the whole point of the game is to hit the ball back and forth until someone makes a mistake – it’s that simple!

The game is won when one side reaches a score of 11… as long as they’re leading by at least two points. If they’re not, the game continues until one side is two points ahead.

Official Rules

While the basics of the game consist of only a few rules, it is recommended that all players familiarise themselves with the USA Pickleball Rulebook and basic rule summary on their site.

Ratings

Most pickleball players figure out their skill level by self-rating, where they rate themselves from 1.0 to 5.0+. This is completed based on benchmarking themselves on other similar players at that level and by comparing themselves to the rating definitions.

Pickleball Sportsmanship

Pickleball was created to be a fun, competitive, and highly social sport. Since its inception, it has embodied an ethic of good sportsmanship that includes respect, fair play, and graciousness in winning and losing. The purpose of this guide is to encourage behaviours that reflect these foundational values. The Official Rules of Pickleball take precedence over this guide in any and all situations.

(1) Treat all players, officials, volunteers, staff, and spectators with courtesy and respect.

  • Introduce yourself to any players you do not know.

  • Never use foul language or obscene gestures. Never denigrate another person.

  • At the end of each game, meet the other players at the net to acknowledge them in a positive manner. In officiated matches, thank the referee.

  • Accommodate players with adaptive needs when possible.

 

(2) Know the Official Rules of Pickleball, apply them fairly and cooperate in any situation that is not expressly covered by the rules.

(3) Practice good sportsmanship when making line calls.

  • Respect your opponents' right to make all calls on their end of the court.

  • Call your own shot “out” if you see that it is out.

  • If you question an opponent’s call, do so respectfully and do not argue.

  • If you defer a line call to your opponents, accept their call graciously.

  • Do not call a ball “out” unless you see it clearly and are certain it is out.

  • Promptly correct any wrong call your partner may make.

  • Resolve any uncertainty in favor of your opponents.

(4) Call a fault on yourself or your partner as soon as the fault occurs, regardless of whether your opponents are aware of the fault.

  • Watch your own and your partner’s feet for service or Non-Volley Zone foot faults

  • Accept your opponent’s and partner’s fault calls graciously.

  • Admit if the ball hits you or your paddle on the way out of bounds.

 

(5) Claim a replay only if a hinder affects your team’s ability to play the ball.

(6) In social play, rotate on and off courts fairly, courteously, and in accordance with local practice.

  • Don’t jump ahead of others who are waiting to play.

  • Don’t invite someone else forward in line or rearrange paddles so they can move up to play with you; move yourself back instead.

  • Don’t call a lower score or start a second game to avoid leaving the court.

  • Be prepared to play when it is your turn.

  • If you must cross over or behind an active court, wait until play is stopped and cross quickly in a single group to minimize disruption of that game.

 

(7) Make safety a priority while using common sense.

  • If a ball strays onto your court, make eye contact with the correct person and roll or toss it back to them without disrupting play on other courts.

  • If your ball enters another court, immediately warn any players whose safety may be in jeopardy by loudly calling “ball” or some other warning. If the ball is rolling behind their court and does not present a danger to players, do not interrupt play but wait until play stops to retrieve it or ask for its return.

  • Never throw your paddle or strike the ball in anger or frustration.

 

(8) As a stronger player in social play, be kind to other players.

  • Avoid hitting excessively to a weaker player.

  • Do not slam the ball directly at other players.

 

(9) Be considerate about playing up and playing down.

  • Be willing to play sometimes with less-skilled players.

  • Do not demand to play with more skilled players; ask them nicely if you wish to play with them.

 

(10) Be a respectful and supportive partner.

  • Avoid criticism and negative non-verbal communications.

  • Provide coaching and advice only when requested.

bottom of page