What Are The Rules And Regulations Of Pickleball?

In the summer of 1965, three parents invented a game to entertain their bored children over their school break. Inspired by a badminton court and some old ping pong paddles, Bill, Joel, and Barney invented Pickleball. Pickleball is very similar to tennis, but due to its slower pace, smaller space, and reduced physicality, Pickleball allows people from all age ranges to compete against each other. That combined with Pickleball’s simple rules make it a very fun and fast-growing sport.

Playing Space

The Pickleball court is a rectangular area 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, the same measures of a badminton court. The court’s surface is preferably made out of asphalt, but the game can be played on any indoor or outdoor surface that allows the ball to bounce. The court has a tennis-type net that should be around 30 inches high which divides the playing space in half.

The playing space is limited by baselines and sidelines, and each half of the court is divided into three smaller areas, the left and right service courts, and the kitchen, which is also sometimes called the non-volley zone. The kitchen is a "forbidden zone" where once players step in it, they can’t volley the ball back to the opponent. An exception is made when the ball bounces inside the kitchen first, then players are allowed to step inside it, and volley the ball back.


To play the game, in addition to an even surface and a net, players need Pickleball paddles and a Pickleball ball. Paddles are slightly smaller than a tennis racquet and slightly bigger than Ping Pong paddles. When the game was invented back in 1965, the inventors used wooden paddles, which can still be used, but nowadays paddles are also made of lighter materials, such as aluminum and graphite, and come in different sizes and shapes. The balls are about the size of a tennis ball, made of plastic, and with holes that allow air to go through it. Balls are different for games played indoor and outdoor. Other than that, tennis shoes are recommended, and there is not really much more necessary for someone to play the game competitively, or to just have fun with some friends.


The game can be played either by two people competing against each other, or two doubles pairs competing against each other. Pickleball is most commonly played in the doubles format and the court does not change size depending on the number of players.

Starting the Game

For the game to start, a player must serve from behind their baseline using an underhand movement. The ball must first touch the opponent's service court and after that players volley the ball back and forth until a side-out happens.

The Objective

In Pickleball, players can only score if they are the ones who served for the rally to start. Players seek to make the ball bounce twice on the opponent's court or to force the opponent to volley the ball outside of the playing field or into the net. If one of those things happens, a fault is called, and either a side-out is awarded or a point is scored.

In doubles’ games, for the serving rights to change, it is necessary for both players to serve. That way, for the double who did not serve to score a point, it is first necessary for their opponents to commit two faults, so that they can get the right to serve. There is an exception: the only time where it is not necessary for the two players in a double to serve, is the first serve of a game or a match. That way, if the first server commits a fault, a side out is called and the opposing double gets the right to serve.


In Pickleball, if a fault is made by the player or double that did not serve, one point is awarded to the opposition. The server will always announce the score out loud before he or she serves. In doubles, the score announced takes three numbers in consideration: the server's score first, the opponents score second, and what player in a double is serving third. That is if a game has a score of 4-3 and a double is about to serve for the first time after a side-out, the server will shout "Four, Three, One!". For a singles game, the score is only called by the number of points each person has. Score-keeping is often considered confusing, but once you know the rules it is really simple to understand.


A Pickleball match is divided into games, similar to tennis. The player or double to first win two games wins the match. Games can be played to 11, 15, or even 21 points.


Players and doubles can call for timeouts in Pickleball, similar to many other sports. In games played to 11 or 15 points, each player or double has the right to call two time-outs per game. In games to 21, that number goes up to three per game.