Though unregulated, pickleball is a real sport. It resembles traditional tennis and badminton, taking features from each. While the court is not as big as a tennis court, it allows single or double face-offs just like tennis. If you haven’t heard of pickleball as an actual sport and think it’s probably something a bunch of kids came up with, read on to find out more about it. We have discussed below the rules of pickleball and The Dimensions of court respectively.
What’s Interesting About the Name?
The game was created by Washington politician Joel Pritchard in 1965 to provide his family with an entertaining sport to kill summer boredom.
Interestingly, there are 2 theories that explain how the game got its name. According to the first story, Pritchard’s wife described the game as being similar to pickle boat (in that it was created from the leftover stuff they could find), which led to the name “pickleball.”
Another story says that the name of the game was inspired by Pritchard’s only dog, Pickles. However, there is not enough clarity about whether the dog’s name inspired the name of the sport or vice versa. Nonetheless, the name does stand out!
How Is It Played?
Before getting down to explaining pickleball rules, it’s best to establish the equipment that is used to play this sport. Instead of using badminton or tennis racquets, special pickleball paddles are used. These are made from either wood or some other composite material such as aluminum and graphite. These paddles are smaller than tennis racquets but slightly bigger than ping-pong ones. A plastic ball is used which looks very much like a wiffle ball but smaller.
The game may be enjoyed in singles, i.e. one-to-one, but it can also accommodate as many as four people in doubles. So, if you have a bunch of friends who want to try a new sport, try pickleball for a change and if you are new to pickleball and want to play like a pro you must know the rules of pickleball.
Rules of Pickleball Video Demonstration
3. Always Remain Alert and Ready
Some Basic Rules of Pickleball
There are a couple of things that you need to know about this sport. Since it remains an ungoverned sport to date, you may tweak a rule or two, but for starters, here’s what the pickleball rules entail:
- For the serve, the rules state that it must be made underhand, whereby the paddle must come in contact with the plastic ball below the server’s waist.
- The serve must be made by keeping one foot or both behind the baseline on the court. Once the ball is struck, the serving player is allowed to contact the baseline.
- Serving is done in a diagonal direction, so the opponent strike should be made from the opposite diagonal court.
- Each side is allowed only one serve unless let serves are played. Let serves mean the ball bounces back from the net.
Serve Sequence Rules
- Other than the first service sequence, both players in doubles may serve and score points until one of them ends up committing a fault (which will be explained in later paragraphs).
- An initial serve of each side-out must be made from the right side of the court.
- After scoring a point, the server switches and serves from the left side of the court.
- With each score, the same rule follows until a fault is committed. This leads to the player losing their serve, and their partner is allowed to serve from the correct side of the court. The same applies to opposing players.
- When the second server also loses his serve, the service is handed over to the opposing team. The initial serve is then made from the right side of the court, and both players on the team can served until they commit 2 faults.
- In case of a singles game, initial serves are made from the right side of the court as long as the score remains even.
This particular rule states that on each serve, the opposing team must allow the ball to bounce once in their side of the court before hitting it. Then, the serving team must allow it to bounce once in their side of the court before returning it. This makes two bounces in total. After the two bounces are done, both sides can either hit the ball directly or hit it after letting it bounce. This rule eliminates the otherwise serve and volley benefit enjoyed by teams.
Before listing the rules that relate to the non-volley zone, it is necessary to identify this zone. It is the area of the court that extends 7 feet from either side of the net. The rules applicable to this particular area entail the following:
- Volleying is not allowed in the non-volley zone. If done, even by mistake, it counts as a fault.
- Volleying must only be done from outside the non-volley zone, but at all other times, the player can stay within the non-volley zone.
- This zone area is also sometimes referred to as ‘the kitchen.’
Now, let’s establish what counts as a fault. It is usually referred to a violation of any pickleball rule. When a fault is committed, the gameplay comes to a halt, and it adds a point in favor of the opposing team. A serve opportunity may also be lost in case of rule violation. A fault is committed in the following situations during a game:
- When the ball contacts the non-volley zone during the serve
- When the ball is struck out of bounds
- While the ball fails to go over the net and falls back in the server’s court
- When the two-bounce rule is not followed by either team or player
Calling the Lines
Line calling refers to determining whether the ball is in or out. The following line calling ethics are followed in a pickleball game:
- Players must resolve calls in favor of the opponent
- Players are allowed line calling on their courtside
- The audience is not allowed to call the lines
- Players must avoid questioning the opponent’s call
- These calls are to be made instantly on spotting or else are rendered void
In a game of pickleball, the points may be scored only by the serving team or player. Basically, as long as the serving team does not commit a fault, the opportunity for scoring is wide open. Once the serve moves to the opponent team, their turn to score points begins.
A normal gameplay continues till 11 points, while the winner must ensure 2 additional points in order to claim victory. On the other hand, tournaments may be played for up to 15 or 21 points and won by 2 points.
- Even Score – If the serving team has 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 points, the initial server must remain on the right side of the court while serving and striking.
- Odd Score – If the serving team has 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9 points, the initial server must remain on the left side of the court while serving and striking.
These are all pickleball rules that one must know in order to play this sport. Since the game remains ungoverned, you may change a few rules while playing with friends or family members to make targets more achievable. However, these rules are basic and may be followed without having to face much technical complexity.
Dimensions of Court
Basically, the court size is similar to the court size allocated for a doubles game in badminton. Hence, expect a 20 x 44 ft. area that comprises a net standing tall at 3 ft. dividing the court into two equal halves. A normal tennis court measures 120 x 60 ft. that can generally accommodate 4 pickleball courts.
A Comprehensive Breakdown
Here’s a complete breakdown of the dimensions of the court from each side and corner. These exact dimensions of the court have been borrowed from the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association).
- Court length: 44 ft.
- Court width: 20 ft.
- Non-volley zone: 14 ft. (7 ft. from either side of the net)
- Net height at sideline: 36 inches
- Net height at center: 34 inches
- Left service area length: 15 ft.
- Left service area width: 10 ft.
- Right service area length: 15 ft.
- Right service area width: 10 ft.
- Diagonal: 48 ft. & 4 inches
Court Dimension Pickleball Video Walkthrough
Does the Court Size Differ for Singles and Doubles Play?
This is an interesting question since a tennis court is unique and spans different areas for singles and doubles games. As for pickleball, the same 20 x 44 ft. area is assigned for both game types.
However, these dimensions may differ if you are setting up a court at home or indoors to enjoy a quick game of pickleball. You may choose to have extra space behind the sideline and baseline. On the other hand, smaller, compact spaces will work if the setup is done indoors. Space is a consideration primarily for competitive matches, which must take place in court setups specifically designed for this sport.
Hopefully, this comprehensive all-in-one guide has been pretty useful in helping you understand this entertaining sport. If you love tennis or badminton, wait till you get your hands on a pickleball paddle. You will surely lose track of time. It’s that addicting!