The 8 Basics Pickleball Tips for New Players

Pickleball is a unique sport. It mixes tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It offers fun and a challenge. It is for players of all ages. Whether you’re stepping onto the court for the first time or looking to improve your skills, you must know the basic rules of pickleball. This guide will cover eight basic rules. Every new player should know them before hitting the court.

8 Basic Rules Every New Pickleball Player Should Know

Rule #1: Singles or Doubles

Pickleball can be played with two or four people. This makes it a versatile game for those who prefer one-on-one or team play. The official rules from USA Pickleball say that the court is shared equally. This reduces movement and makes the game easier and more beginner-friendly.

Playing doubles is great fun. You get to share the experience and cover less ground. It’s less tiring and more about strategy with your partner. It’s a fine way to become more familiar with the game while having support on your side.

Rule #2: Only the Serving Side Scores

In pickleball, understanding the scoring system is crucial for new players. Unlike many racquet sports, only the serving side can score points. This rule means the receivers must focus on sending the ball back well. They must not aim to score directly. In doubles pickleball, for example, two people form a team.

The first server starts from the right side of the court on the even side when the score is 0 – 0. The server hits the ball diagonally. They hit it to the side where the opponent stands. After each point, the server switches to the left side to serve, and if they score, they move back to the right side and so on. 

If the server faults or makes a rule infraction, the serving sequence stops. The second player on the team then serves. Should they fail, the ball goes to the other team. In singles pickleball, this cycle continues until a fault happens. Then, the opponent gets the ball to serve until another fault occurs. Then, the ball comes back to you.

Knowing this rule helps in strategizing your play. When you serve, you should capitalize on the chance to score. Scoring is not just part of the game. It’s a pivotal moment to gain an advantage.

Rule #3: Determining the First Server

At the start of a game of pickleball, a key part is deciding who will serve first. This decision is made using simple, random methods to ensure fairness. Typically, a coin flip is the go-to choice. Each team or player calls either heads or tails, and whoever wins the toss earns the right to serve.

But other options, like spinning a paddle or choosing a number, can also show which side starts the match. This seemingly simple act can have a subtle impact on your game strategy. Knowing if you will serve first or last gives you an edge. You can gauge your opponent’s skills and adapt your tactics from the start.

It’s a fun and fair way to start the competition. It sets the tone for a sport where precision and spontaneity blend seamlessly. They make every player better and add to the joy of the game.

Rule #4: The Two-Bounce Rule

Pickleball has a unique starting sequence known as the two-bounce rule. The game starts with the first serve. The ball must bounce once on the receiver’s side before they can hit it. Similarly, the ball must also bounce once on the server’s side after returning the ball.

This ensures that in the first exchanges of each point, the ball bounces twice, once on each side of the net. Interestingly, we often call it the two-bounce rule. But, it only applies to the first exchange. After this, players are free to volley the ball directly from the air or play off the bounce.

But, if the ball does bounce twice without being returned, it is a fault. This rule is crucial. It helps avoid confusion and keeps play fair and regulated. Over the years, USA Pickleball made a small change in terminology. They went from the “double-bounce rule” to the “two-bounce rule.”

This name changed a few years ago for a good reason. But, you’ll still occasionally hear the older term on the courts. The aim was to clarify: the ball must only bounce once on each side per sequence. This prevents the mistake of letting it bounce twice on the same side, which would be a fault.

This clear difference helps new and old players. It keeps the rhythm and spirit of the game.

Rule #5: Underhand Serving

When stepping onto the pickleball court, especially for new players. mastering the serve is crucial. A common and effective style is the underhand serve. Unlike tennis, with its power and overhand serves, pickleball is different. It favors a subtle and strategic approach. It focuses on precision and placement.

The mechanics involve holding the paddle with a relaxed grip in the hand on the paddle arm. You start an arc-like motion from below the waist. The paddle head should not exceed the height of your wrist at the moment of contact. This ensures the ball follows a gentle upward path. It lands diagonally across the net in the opposite service area.

This serve method reduces pressure on the player. It lets them focus more on positioning than power. It’s a legal move. It’s appreciated in singles and doubles. It allows a smooth move from the baseline to the kitchen line without a fault. Also, the underhand serve discourages aggressive volley serves. These serves are not allowed if the ball lands in the non-volley zone, commonly called the kitchen.

In practice, put your feet behind the baseline. Any forward move before the ball is hit or falls short is a fault. As you gain experience, this serving style becomes easy. It blends into your game strategy, much like traditional styles in other sports. But, it is adapted uniquely to pickleball.

Sharing these similarities and changes with partners or coaches can help you. It will help you understand and play the game better. It makes each match a chance to refine your skills and strategies.

Rule #6: Serve Behind the Baseline

You must understand the baseline before you play pickleball. It is your anchor when serving. The baselines stretch across the whole width of the court. They are at each end and run parallel to the net. To serve legally, keep both feet behind the baseline. Have at least one foot firmly on the ground during the serve.

The baseline is bounded by two critical lines. The centreline cuts the court. The sideline marks the outer width of the playing area. Together, these lines form an imaginary boundary that extends from the actual baseline. As a server, you cannot touch or cross these lines.

When it’s your turn to serve, stand between the centreline and sideline. Stand roughly a foot behind the baseline. This positioning ensures you don’t accidentally step on the baseline. You also won’t cross it due to momentum. This is especially true when trying new stances or techniques like the drop serve.

Early in your playing days, you must watch your foot placement. This will help you avoid common mistakes.

Rule #7: Keeping the Ball In Bounds

When you’re new to pickleball, mastering the basics is key. You must keep the ball within the marked court area. This can greatly improve your game. Understanding the bounds and what is being “out of bounds” is crucial. Every line on the pickleball court is there for a reason, serving as a guideline to define the playing field.

When serving, ensure that the ball lands within the opposite service court. The ball must not touch the non-volley zone. This zone is often called the “kitchen.” It also must not touch the surrounding line. If it does, it is an automatic fault. This zone, measuring about seven feet from the pickleball net, is a no-volley area.

If your serve mistakenly lands here or beyond the side and back lines, it grants a point to your opponent. Players must know that during volley exchanges. Stepping on or before the kitchen line is banned unless the ball bounces. Each side of the court mirrors the other in width and length.

Learning to visually gauge where the ball lands in relation to these lines is a key skill. As a player, I’ve found that regular practice in recognizing these limits cuts faults. It also improves how you position and serve your partner in key moments.

Rule #8: Scoring and Game Length

Diving into Pickleball with the right strategies is key. Understanding the scoring system can greatly improve your game. Traditionally, Pickleball is a timed sport. Players strive to reach 11 points first. In a typical tournament, the rules say the winner is the first side to reach this score.

They must lead their opponent by 2 points. But, it’s not just about playing to 11 points. Some games may go to 15 or 21 points in non-tournament games. So, flexibility in strategy is crucial. In more competitive scenarios, such as the best 2 out of 3 games, each game targets 11 points.

This is uncommon. Some players and venues opt for a score higher than 11. This adds an extra challenge. But, the player or team with the higher score wins. They win within the allotted time. This scoring framework is dynamic. It makes every game intense and engaging. It pushes players to adapt and plan well.

Final Thoughts

Mastering the basics of pickleball is essential for new players. You need to understand the unique two-bounce rule. You also need to perfect your underhand serve. These eight rules form the foundation of your gameplay. Keep practicing. Focus on your foot placement. Always aim to keep the ball in bounds. Follow these guidelines. You’ll improve your skills and enjoy the game more. Embrace the challenge and have fun on the court!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the two-bounce rule in pickleball?

The two-bounce rule requires the ball to bounce once on each side of the net before volleys are allowed, applying only to the first exchange of each point.

How does scoring work in pickleball?

Only the serving side can score points, and the game typically continues until one side reaches 11 points and leads by at least 2 points.

Where should the serve land in pickleball?

The serve must land in the opposite diagonal service court, outside the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen.

Is there a specific way to serve in pickleball?

Yes, pickleball requires an underhand serve where the paddle must not exceed the wrist’s height at contact, aiming for precision over power.

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