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Pickleball 101: Rules and Equipment

Pickleball 101: Rules and Equipment

Pickleball is a simple and fast-paced game. Whether you’re a beginner, an expert, or just looking to have fun, pickleball is a sport for everyone. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment and is easy to understand. 

Here are what you need to play pickleball.

The Court

Pickleball Court

A pickleball court is just like a badminton or tennis court. A tennis court can be converted into four pickleball courts. A pickleball court usually measures 20x44 feet. Its height net is 36 inches at the side and 34 inches in the middle. There is a 7-foot non-volley zone on each side of the net called the “kitchen”.

If you’re in the mood to play pickleball and you don’t have access to any pickleball courts, you can make a DIY pickleball court by using a badminton or tennis court. Playing pickleball on a tennis court is just like playing on a pickleball court. A tennis court is so much bigger that it can be converted into four pickleball courts. You can also get a mini pickleball court that you can bring anywhere in case you get into a spur-of-the-moment game.

When building a pickleball court, asphalt and concrete are usually used for the flooring. Although for an indoor pickleball court, wood and rubber can also be used, just like in indoor gymnasiums.

What to Use?

Pickleball Paddle

If you’re going to play pickleball, you will need a paddle and ball. Many pickleball paddle brands also advertise to have a “larger sweet spot”, but which ones are telling the truth? There are a lot of pickleball paddles to choose from. Make sure to choose comfort, efficiency, and durability.

  • Selkirk/SLK
  • Prince Pickleball
  • Diadem
  • Volair
  • Franklin
  • 101Pickleball
Types of Pickleball Paddle (Standard, Hybrid, and Elongated)

Of course, even if you have the perfect paddle, you can’t play without a ball. Pickleball uses a ball with holes. For indoor pickleball, the ball has fewer and bigger holes. For outdoor pickleball, the ball is heavier with more and smaller holes to avoid being carried by winds.

Pickleball Outdoor and Indoor Balls

Outdoor Pickleball

  • Franklin X40 Outdoor Pickleballs
  • Dura Fast 40 Pickleball
  • Onix Fuse G2 Outdoor Pickleball
  • Onix Pure 2 Outdoor Pickleball
  • Pro Penn 40 Outdoor Pickleballs
  • Penn 40 Outdoor Pickleballs

Indoor pickleball

  • Franklin’s X-26 Indoor Pickleball
  • Onix Fuse Indoor Pickleball
  • Recruit Pure Indoor Pickleball
  • Penn 26 Indoor Pickleball

Foam Ball

There are quiet pickleball balls that are meant to lessen the noise when bouncing. Foam pickleball is a little uncommon but is becoming popular now. It’s quiet and is best when practicing indoors.

Pickleball Foam Balls



  • A serve is made with an underhand and the paddle must not go above the waist when hitting the ball. The paddle head must be below wrist level.
  • For a drop serve, the above rule doesn’t apply.
  • The ball must go in a diagonal direction towards the opponent’s side.
  • The serving player must stay behind the baseline.
  • One serve per player is allowed.
  • For doubles, each member gets to serve before the serve switches to the other team.
  • The first serve must always be made at the right side of the court. The members (doubles) will switch sides if a point is scored.
  • Serving will go to the other team if the current serving team makes a fault.


  • Only the serving team can get a point. If they make a fault, the serve will go to the opponent and they will then get the chance to win points.
  • Normal games are played to 11 points, win by 2. 
    • Pickleball is considered a fast-paced game because the goal is to score a minimum of 11 points, as long as the winning team is ahead by 2 points. For example, if the score is 10-10, the game will continue until the score has hit 11 and is 2 points ahead.
  • Tournament games can be played up to 15 or 21, win by 2.
  • If the serving team’s score is an even number, the first server must serve/receive from the right side. If the score is odd, the first server must be on the left side to serve/receive. 
Pickleball Serve

Two-Bounce Rule

  • When serving, the opponent must first let the ball bounce before hitting it. When the ball goes to the other side, the serving team must also let it bounce before hitting it. This is to avoid the serving team having an unfair advantage by rushing to the net to volley the ball.
  • After the initial bouncing off both courts, the players can choose to volley (hitting the ball before it hits the ground) or play it off a bounce.
Pickleball Two-Bounce Rule


A fault is any action that goes against the rules.

  • The serve must go to the opponent if the serving team makes a fault.
  • The score goes to the serving team if the receiving team makes a fault.
  • The serve goes to the other team when the serving team makes a fault. This is called a side-out.

Non-volley Zone

  • The ball can touch any part of any line (except the non-volley zone when serving). Touching the non-volley zone during serve results in a fault.
  • Volleying the ball while in the non-volley zone (or even just your clothes or anything you’re holding) will result in a fault. If you go into the non-volley zone after hitting the ball, this is also a fault.
Pickleball Court Non-Volley Zone

You are now ready for pickleball with this information. Go and study which paddle and ball best suit you. Once you have decided and purchased your equipment, don’t forget to have fun.

Key Takeaways



Size: 20x44 feet. Net height: 36 inches at sides, 34 inches in the middle. 7-foot non-volley zone ("kitchen") on each side. Can use a tennis court.


Paddle: Choose a good one (brands: Selkirk, Prince, Franklin).


- Outdoor: Heavier, more and smaller holes (e.g., Franklin X40).

- Indoor: Lighter, fewer and bigger holes (e.g., Franklin’s X-26).

- Foam balls: Quiet for indoor practice.



- Underhand, paddle below the waist.

- Serve diagonally, behind the baseline.

- One serve per player.


- Only serving team scores.

- Play to 11 points, win by 2.

Two-Bounce Rule:

- The ball bounces once on each side before volleying.


- Breaking rules or non-volley zone violations.

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