how to play pickleball

Learn How to Play Pickleball: The #1 Beginner’s Cheat-Sheet

In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know on how to play pickleball, from essential equipment and court layout to gameplay fundamentals and advanced strategies.

Have you ever wanted to try a fun, fast-paced, game-paced sport that is easy to learn and suitable for all ages? Look no further! Pickleball is an exciting game that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. We’ll have more Pickleball blog posts soon, so stay in tune with the Blog.

Key Takeaways

  • Essential equipment for pickleball includes a paddle, ball, and appropriate footwear.

  • Understanding the fundamentals of gameplay, such as serving techniques, scoring system, and common faults, is essential to success in the game.

  • Practicing regularly with a focus on mastering shots & strategies combined with proper etiquette & sportsmanship will help improve skills.

Pickleball Essentials: Equipment and Court Layout

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Before playing, acquaint yourself with the pickleball equipment and court layout. A solid understanding of these basics will set you up for success as you learn to play this popular and fast-growing sport.

Essential Equipment

A set of essential equipment for playing pickleball, including paddles, balls, and a net, necessary for learning how to play pickleball.

Playing pickleball requires a paddle, ball, and suitable footwear. Pickleball paddles are typically made from graphite, aluminum, or composite materials, and their size and shape should be chosen based on your playing style and preference.

Pickleballs are made from plastic and have a diameter of 2.9 inches, with bright colors like yellow or orange recommended for better visibility during play.

Choosing the right footwear is key for performance and safety on the court. Athletic shoes with flat soles are generally recommended, ensuring adequate traction and support while playing.

Understanding the Court

A pickleball court is a 44’ by 20’ rectangle divided by a low net, with the following markings found on pickleball courts:

  • Sidelines

  • Baselines

  • Centerline

  • Non-volley lines

The net is 34 inches high at the center and 36 inches tall at the endposts. The court also features a designated non-volley zone, a service area known as the “kitchen,” a 7’ by 20’ size on both sides of the net.

The kitchen plays a vital role in the game as volleying is prohibited in the game called this zone. Understanding the court layout will enable you to execute strategic shots and avoid faults during gameplay.

The Fundamentals of Pickleball Gameplay

Two pickleball players playing a game of pickleball on a court

Having acquainted yourself with the equipment and court layout, let’s move on to the basics of pickleball gameplay. This includes serving techniques, the scoring system, and common faults.

Getting a grasp on these game elements paves the way for your success on the court.

Serving Techniques

In pickleball, serves must be made with an underhand or backhand stroke. Contact must be below the waist. The designated serving position for pickleball serve is behind the baseline, and the server must remain in this position until the ball is struck.

The serve must be executed upwardly, landing diagonally opposite the service court, clearing the kitchen line, and landing between the sideline and baseline.

Remember that the double bounce rule, also known as the two-bounce rule, is in effect, necessitating the ball bounce on both sides before any team can start volleying.

Scoring System

The scoring system in pickleball is based on the serving team gaining points when the other opponent hits two faults, with games played to 11 or 15 points. In doubles play, both players on a team have the opportunity to serve during each turn, and the third number in the score announcement indicates which of the two players has the serve.

The exception to this rule is the very first serve of the game in tournament games, which starts with a score of “0-0-2”. This ensures that the starting team only two wins points and receives one serve, preventing them from gaining an undue advantage.

Common Faults

In pickleball, common faults include hitting the ball out of bounds, failing to clear the net, and volleying in the non-volley zone or “kitchen.” When a fault occurs, only the serving team loses their serve, and the receiving team gains the opportunity to serve.

Understanding common faults can mitigate mistakes and point loss during the game.

Playing Pickleball: Singles vs. Doubles

Two pickleball players playing singles on a court

Pickleball can be played in singles or doubles format, with each format offering unique gameplay strategies and challenges in a pickleball game. We will explore the distinguishing features of singles and doubles play alongside their unique strategies and techniques.

Singles Play

In singles play, only one player is on each side of the court, and the serving side alternates depending on the score.

The initial serve, which can be a drop serve, must be made from the right service court to the opposing team’s service court, and the first server retains the serve until they commit a fault, after which the serve is transferred to the opponent. When the server’s score is even, they will serve from the left service court.

The serve alternates between the two players until another fault is committed on the partner’s serve. Grasping the nuances of serving and scoring in singles play allows you to tailor your game strategy effectively.

Doubles Play

Doubles play is the most popular form of pickleball, with two players on each side sharing serving responsibilities and following specific positioning strategies. Both players on a team have the opportunity to serve during each other team turn, and the third number in the score announcement indicates which of the two players has the serve.

The initial serving team is entitled to a single-serve and should call “0-0-2”. Comprehending the variances in serving and team scores in doubles play, along with the significance of serving sequence, teamwork, and positioning against the opposing team, enriches your game experience.

Mastering Pickleball Shots and Strategies

As you progress in your pickleball journey, mastering various shots and strategies will elevate your game and help you become a more formidable opponent. We will delve into groundstrokes, volleys, dinks, and drop shots, including their strategic applications in gameplay.


Groundstrokes in pickleball involve hitting the ball after it has bounced, focusing on placement and control. The two main types of groundstrokes are the backhand groundstroke and the forehand groundstroke. These shots are essential for maintaining control of the ball and keeping your opponent on their toes.

Refining your groundstrokes through practice enables you to manage various court scenarios adeptly.


Volleys in pickleball are hit out of the air before the first ball hits the bounces, allowing for quick, aggressive plays. However, it’s important to remember that volleys are prohibited in the non-volley zone or “kitchen.” There are several types of volleys used in pickleball, including:

  • Punch volleys

  • Roll volleys

  • Drop volleys

  • Dink volleys

  • Block volleys

  • Swing volleys

Honing your volleys and serve hits allows you to put your opponents under pressure and create chances to score points.

Dinks and Drop Shots

Dinks and drop shots are essential pickleball strategies involving soft shots that land close to the net and force opponents to move forward.

A dink shot is a slower and softer shot that is hit near the no-volley line, intended to drop once it crosses the net. A drop shot, meanwhile, is a slice off either side with the racket face angled up that absorbs incoming speed and tries to land short hit the ball.

Utilizing dinks and drop shots in your game keeps your opponents on their toes, offering a strategic edge.

Pickleball Etiquette and Sportsmanship

Two pickleball players playing a game with good sportsmanship

As with any sport, pickleball has its own etiquette and sportsmanship guidelines. Adhering to these principles demonstrates respect for opponents and ensures that playing pickleball singles is a pleasant and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Pickleball etiquette includes:

  • Respecting ball ownership

  • Retrieving balls safely

  • Alerting others about stray balls

  • Adhering to the rotation system

  • Accommodating players with adaptive needs

  • Being familiar with and abiding by the official rules of pickleball

Good sportsmanship is the foundation of a positive pickleball experience, so always be courteous and respectful.

Tips for Improving Your Pickleball Skills

Two pickleball players practicing their skills on a court

As you continue to play pickleball, you may look for ways to improve your skills and elevate your game. Here are some tips to help you on your journey to becoming a better pickleball player.

Consistent practice and drills are vital to improving your pickleball skills, aiding muscle memory development and technique refinement.

Focus on mastering the shots and strategies discussed earlier in this guide and learning from more experienced players. Additionally, always remember to demonstrate good etiquette and sportsmanship during your games.

With dedication and persistence, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an accomplished pickleball player.

Summary of How to Play Pickleball

In conclusion, pickleball is an engaging and accessible sport that players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy.

By understanding the essential equipment, court layout, and gameplay fundamentals and mastering various shots and strategies, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled pickleball player.

Remember always to practice good etiquette and sportsmanship, and most importantly, have fun on the court!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you play pickleball for beginners?

Pickleball for beginners requires hitting the ball within bounds, an underhand and below-waistline serve, which must bounce once on the opponent’s side before being returned, and avoiding the no-volley zone when serving.

What are basic pickleball rules?

Pickleball rules dictate that the serve must come from behind the baseline, cross-court, with it not landing in the kitchen area and following a double bounce rule.

What is the best way to learn pickleball?

The best way to learn pickleball is to find a knowledgeable person to show you the ropes, then watch tutorials online and sign up for lessons at your local courts. This combination will ensure you learn the basics quickly and effectively.

What are the three skills needed to play pickleball?

To play pickleball, players need to hone their dinking and volleying skills, attack from the non-volley zone line, and reset and block from the non-volley zone line and mid-court.

What is the main difference between singles and doubles play in pickleball?

The main difference between singles in pickleball and doubles play in pickleball is the number of players on each side, with singles having one player per side and doubles having two players per side, as well as differing serving and scoring rules.

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