Outdoor pickleball court on a beautiful fall morning in Arizona

Mastering the Game: A Comprehensive Guide to Pickleball Rules

Welcome to our ultimate guide on the rules of Pickleball! Whether you're a seasoned player or a beginner, understanding the rules is essential to enjoying this exciting and fast-paced sport. In this blog post, we will delve into the rules of Pickleball, clarifying the key elements that make up the game. As you explore the ins and outs of this unique sport, you'll gain a solid foundation that will elevate your gameplay and ensure a fun and fair experience on the court. We want you confidently joining the nearly 50 million Americans out on the court. 


The Basics: Court Dimensions and Equipment


Before we dive into the rules of play, let's familiarize ourselves with the basics. Pickleball is typically played on a rectangular court with specific dimensions of 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. Additional court lines consist of a non-volley line (NVL) 7 feet each side of the net, and a center line that runs from the NVL line to the baseline. The smaller court dimensions when compared to a tennis court attracts a wide range of players. The net stands at 36 inches in the center and 34 inches at the sidelines. Players use solid paddles made of various materials, and the game revolves around a perforated plastic ball.


Serving Rules


Serving is where each point begins, making it a crucial aspect of Pickleball. Each person on the team serves until they lose the rally before returning the ball to the opponent - only exception is starting the match, the first team only gets one server. The server starts on the right side and must stand behind the baseline, hit the ball underhand, and ensure that both feet are behind the baseline until contact. The ball must clear the NVZ and land in the diagonal court to be considered valid. If the serve touches the NVZ or the line, it is faulted, the sideline or baseline are considered in. If the serving team wins the rally the two partners switch boxes prior to next serve.


Double Bounce Rule


Once the serve is in play, both the serving team and the receiving team must allow the ball to bounce once on each side before volleying. This is known as the double bounce rule and ensures an equal start to each point, preventing overly aggressive play from dominating the game. 


Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) Rule


The Non-Volley Zone, also known as the kitchen, is an area located 7 feet from the net on either side of the court. Players are not allowed to volley (hit the ball in the air without letting it bounce) while standing inside the NVZ. You can only enter the NVZ to play a ball that has already bounced or if you are following through on a shot. If you step into the NVZ it is not a fault unless you play the ball illegally. 


Faults and Scoring


Pickleball has specific fault rules, such as stepping into the NVZ while volleying, hitting the ball out of bounds, or volleying the ball before the double bounce has occurred. Points are scored only by the serving team, and games are typically played to 11 points, with a two-point margin to win.


Congratulations, you've now gained a solid understanding of the fundamental rules of Pickleball! By adhering to these rules, you'll be well-equipped to engage in competitive matches with confidence, all while promoting fair play and sportsmanship. Remember, mastering the rules is just the beginning of your Pickleball journey, and the true essence of the sport lies in the camaraderie, skill development, and enjoyment it brings to players of all ages and skill levels. It will take both time and experience for the rules to come naturally so learn from your mistakes and don't let it bother you. The Pickleball communities across the country are almost always willing to help a new player.


The Pickleball Physio believes that a thorough understanding of the game's rules is essential for players' overall performance and safety. Should you encounter any injuries or have questions about how to enhance your Pickleball game, I am one message away to guide you on your path to success. So, grab your paddle, head to the court, and let the game of Pickleball bring you joy and fitness in every match!

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