What Are The 10 Rules Of Pickleball

Pickleball is a paddle sport. However, what sets it apart is its unique rules. While the game might look simple, there are multiple aspects that you must be mindful of when playing it. This especially applies when you want to pursue pickleball professionally. That said, let’s dig deeper into this guide that explains all the rules related to this sport in detail.

Pickleball Serving Rules

The starting point of pickleball is known as serve, where you have to put the ball into play. Let’s have a look at some of the essential rules to follow when it comes to serving in this sport:

Rule No. 1: Ensure Underhand Volley Serve

If you are a frequent pickleball player, you’d know how common volley serves are. Besides that, drop-serving is also quite popular. However, according to rule 4.A.7.a, a volley serve should be underhand at all costs. Meanwhile, there is no such requirement for a drop-serve. So what does underhand basically indicate? Whenever you want to hit the ball with the intention of volley serving, the paddle must be positioned below your waist. Then, move your arm in an upward arc in such a way that the paddle’s highest portion must be under your wrist.

There’s more to this rule. For example, if you are standing in the right service court, you must hit the ball diagonally toward your opponent’s right service court. Also, you need to ensure the ball does not land in the kitchen line. It should either stay in the court or touch the net and land in the service court afterward.

Playing Rules 4

Rule No. 2: Announcing The Score

Following rule 4.D, it’s your responsibility to call the score if you are serving. However, there is a slight difference between that for singles and doubles. When playing pickleball without any partner, you must first announce your score and then proceed to announce the score of the player on the other side of the court.

Contrarily, in doubles, you will first call out your score and then that of your opponent. Afterward, you’d need to announce a number that indicates your position as the server in the team (whether you are first or second). If you are wondering where this number comes from, then let us clear your confusion. Basically, in doubles pickleball, you and your partner would be assigned a number based on the position you’d serve. For instance, the first one to serve would get number 1, while the second to do so would get number 2.

Let’s understand this with an example: Suppose your team has 3 points as servers while your opponent team scores 5 points as receivers, and your assigned number is 1. In this scenario, you’d call 3,5,1 before serving again.

Rule No. 3: Alternating Serves

The team that serves at the beginning of the game would not keep doing so till the end. Instead, the opportunity is rotated with different rules for singles and doubles. Let’s have a look at both the scenarios:

In Singles 

  • As a server, you’d first start by serving the pickleball from behind the right service court’s baseline.
  • In case you win the rally, you must move towards the left service court and serve the ball just like before.
  • This continues until you finally lose the rally, passing the opportunity of serving to your opponent.

In Doubles 

  • If you are assigned as the first server, you will start the game from the court’s right side. This continues with alternating between the court’s right and left area until you lose a rally.
  • However, unlike singles, losing a rally does not give the opponent team a chance to serve. Instead, your other team member (server 2) would get the opportunity. They must serve from the exact side that they were when the previous rally ended.
  • Once the second server loses the rally, the chance to serve is passed onto the opponent team. It is known as side-out.
  • The process repeats until both the team members on the court’s other side lose the rally, and the chance to serve is then passed on to your team.

A team’s first server is not fixed. Instead, the one on the right side of the service court is assigned #1 on every side-out. Did you ever wonder what determines which side of the service court to serve from? Your score does so. If it is odd, you must serve from the left side, while an even score necessitates serving from the court’s right side.

Rule No. 4: Exceptions For The First Server

When you play doubles, you must be mindful of the 4.B.6 rule, which is known as First-Server Exception. It implies that serving first in the game does not come with any benefit. Precisely, the team serving first will only have a single server. This means that if they lose the rally, the serving opportunity will instantly go to the opponent team instead of their partner. In this way, both teams would have equal chances to serve. Therefore, the first server would be the second server, too, and thus, when announcing the score, they’d say 0,0,2 or simply 0,0.

Playing Rules 1

Similar Post:How To Practice Pickleball Alone

Pickleball Gameplay Rules

After the first serve, pickleball continues in the form of rallies, with everyone getting their serving opportunities. Here are some rules you must know about that applies to this part of the sport:

Rule No. 5: Double Bounce Rule

According to this rule, the receiving team must allow the ball to bounce once in the court before hitting a return short. Similarly, the serving team should also let it bounce for one time before returning it toward the team on the court’s other side.

Rule No. 6: No Volleys In The Kitchen

This pickleball rule explains that if you touch the kitchen line or stand inside it while volleying, your team will lose the rally. However, this does not stop you from entering or staying inside the kitchen zone. But you must first let the ball hit the ground in the non-volley zone before returning it back by staying in the same region. But, to hit the ball up into the air, you must stay outside the kitchen area to avoid getting too close to the net. Doing so can hit the ball down hard, which may make the game unfair.

Rule No. 7: Three Ways To Lose A Rally

Losing a rally means that you’d either have to pass the serving opportunity toward your opponent or go for a side-out if both team members have already served. In case the opponent team is serving, they’d earn an extra point. But what indicates that you lost a rally? There are three things that determine this:

  • When the shot that you return ends up out of bounds on the other side of the court
  • When you let the ball bounce more than once before hitting it back
  • When you volley in the kitchen area
Playing Rules 3

Pickleball Scoring Rules

The last set of rules in pickleball is about scoring, which is different than all the other paddle-based games. Let’s explore them:

Rule No. 8: Scoring A Point

Only the player or team that serves will earn the points. This is why pickleball is all about maintaining your serving streak without losing any rally. When you end up winning a rally while serving, a point will be added to your team’s score. And if you weren’t serving, then it will lead to a side out or rotation of serving opportunity to the second member of the opposing team.

Rule No. 9: Winning The Game

Here are the conditions that apply in a pickleball match with respect to winning:

  • A total of 3 rounds are played until either team reaches 11 points in each
  • To be declared as winner, the player or team must win 2 out of 3 rounds

Rule No. 10: No Ties Rule

In pickleball, there is no such thing as a tie. For example, if both teams reach the score of 10-10, the game will be continued until one of them gets a two-point margin. Therefore, even if a team scores 11 points, not having two points higher than their opponent will be an obstacle to their win.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Basic Pickleball Rules?

The basic rules in pickleball state that serves must be underhand, with the ball landing diagonally across the court’s opposite side. Moreover, only the serving team can score, and the one to reach 11 points first wins. However, there must be a margin of two points between the winning and the losing team.

What Is Rule 9 In Pickleball?

According to rule no. 9, all the volleys must be hit from outside the non-volley zone, or it’d earn your opponent a point.

How Many Sets Are In Pickleball?

A total of 3 rounds are played until a player or team reaches 11 scores. Then, the one to win 2 rounds out of 3 is declared the winner.


So that was all about 10 pickleball rules that you must know when playing it. While it is a paddle sport, a few rules are unique to this sport. From serving to scoring and gameplay, the article discusses the rules of each set in detail. So, which rule did you already know about, and which is new to you? Do let us know in the comment section below!

Emma James

A distinguished writer with an impressive 8-year track record of contributing to various prominent informational websites.

Did this article help you?


We love success stories. If you have a minute more, can you share a sentence or two about how this article helped you?

We're sorry. :(

What went wrong?

Thanks for your help!

What do you wish we'd covered in this article?

We're glad you found this helpful.

We're sorry this article wasn’t helpful.