How to Play & Official Rules

What are the rules of pickleball?

  • The Serve
  • The Double Bounce
  • The Return of Serve
  • Kitchen
  • Faults
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The Serve

The start of a game begins with a serve. The player standing in the right service court is always the first server, whether at the the beginning of a game or on a side-out. Before serving the server must call the score. They call their score, the opponent's score, and "one" if they are the first server and a "two" if they are the second server. The serve must be hit underhanded from behind the baseline cross court into the opposing team’s service court. The ball cannot be spun with the open hand, and must be struck below the waist with the paddle hand The serve must clear the net and not land in the kitchen. Sometimes the ball will hit the net but still land in the correct serving court. In this case, the ball is live and must be played. If the ball hits the net and lands in the kitchen, it is a fault. A serve hitting the kitchen line is considered a fault, but hitting any other line is considered in play.

The Double Bounce

An important rule in Pickleball is the double bounce rule. The double bounce rule says the ball must bounce once on each side before either team may start volleying the ball in the air.

The Return of Serve

The player returning the serve must let the ball bounce before returning it to the opposing team’s side in either service court.

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Faults

In Pickleball mistakes are called faults. There are several major faults that can be made in the middle of a rally.

  • Double-Bounce Rule: Hitting a volley before the ball has bounced at least once on a side at the beginning of a rally.
  • The ball can bounce one time on a side before being hit. If the ball bounces more than once, it is a fault.
  • Hitting the ball out of bounds is a fault. Where the center of the ball touches the ground determines whether a ball is in or out on a line.
  • If the ball is hit into the net, it is a fault.
  • Any plays involving stepping into the kitchen to hit a volley is a fault.