General Rules of the Game of Pickleball

Official rules for Pickleball can be found on the USA Pickleball Association web site

We've summarized some of the rules below.

The Game


Pickleball is a simple paddle game played with a baseball-sized wiffleball over a tennis-type net on a Badminton-sized court.

Scoring
  • Only the serving team can score points.
  • Points are scored by legally serving a ball that is not returned by the opponent or by winning the rally.
  • Games are normally played to 11 points and win by 2. Ex.: 11-9, 12-10, 17-15, etc. There are other formats that may be used and are explained by USAPA.

Serving Rules
Service Motion, Positioning, Legal Serve
  • The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below the waist level (navel); tip of paddle head below wrist; arm moving in an upward arc.
  • The server must have at least one foot on the court surface behind the baseline on or within the imaginary lines extending from the centerline and the sideline at the time the ball is struck.
  • A serve striking the net and landing within the service court is called a “let” and another serve is justified with no limit to the number of times this can occur.
  • If a “let“ serve hits the partner of the person receiving the serve before touching the court surface, the serve will be replayed as a let.
  • If your serve hits either of your opponents  before bouncing, it is a point for your team.

Service Bounce Rule

The Two-Bounce Rule (USAPA Double Bounce Rule ref. para. 4.H) The serve and the service return must be allowed to bounce before striking the ball. That is, each side must play a groundstoke on the first shot following the serve. After the initial groundstrokes have been made, play may include volleys.

Serve Sequence Rules
  • For the team that starts the game, only one person gets to serve.
  • The server always starts in the right-hand court and must serve crosscourt (to the backcourt diagonally opposite and beyond the non-volley zone line).
  • The team member serving the initial serve of the game calls the score as “Zero, Zero, Two” meaning I have 0 points, you have 0 points, and I am the only server for this sequence so I’m the 2nd server.
  • After scoring a point, the server always re-positions to serve to the other court (changing places with their partner) for the next serve. You never serve to the same person or serving box twice in a row. Let’s assume they score 2 points and then fault in some way.
  • When that first serving team faults, they transfer or “sideout” the serve to the opposing team.
  • The opposing team begins their first serving sequence with the player who is standing on the right hand side of the court. They call the score as “Zero, two, one” (my score 0, your score 2, and first server) This team gets a service sequence of two faults (that is, each person serves until their team makes a fault/fails to score a point). Let’s assume this team this team scores 2 points with their first server and then the team faults.
  • The team member serving the second serve must serve from whatever side they were playing (in this example, they are on the left side). They call the score as “Two, Two, Two” (my score 2, your score 2, and 2nd server). Service will then continue to alternate from side to side as long as the server continues to win points. Let’s assume they score 3 more points.
  • The serve now transfers (sideout) back to the original starting team and, from this point on, every service sequence will have both players completing their service turns. In this example, the score being called is now “Two, Five, One”.
  • The team’s points will always be even numbers when that team’s starting server is positioned on the right hand side of the court. Points will always be odd when the starting server is on the left hand side of the court.

Non-Volley Zone Rules
  • The NVZ is the rectangular court surface bounded by the sidelines, the NVZ line, and the net. The air space above the surface of this area is not part of the NVZ.
  • A fault will be declared if a player, player’s clothing, or paddle touches the court within the non-volley zone while volleying the ball.
  • A fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball a player’s momentum causes the player, clothing, or paddle to touch the court within the NVZ, even after play has stopped. There is no time limit regarding this momentum, it only ends when the players has regained control over the momentum.
  • Players may enter the NVZ at any time as long as they are not or have not hit the ball as a volley.
  • Jumping over the NVZ to the out-of-bounds area when volleying a ball is allowed. The lines do not extend upward.

Note: It is NOT a fault if the player steps into the NVZ when hitting a ball that has bounced.

Faults
  • All faults, including foot faults; touching the net or post; double bounce; ball touching player or clothing in the air; violations of any rule; can be called by either team.
  • When a server’s foot encroaches the court area or is outside the imaginary extension of the sideline and centerline.
  • Net support post: Any ball hitting the side posts is a dead ball fault.
  • Catching the ball, getting hit: It is a fault to catch the ball and claim it was going out. The ball must bounce on the court surface without interference. 
  • Ball hits a player: If the ball touches a player prior to bouncing, whether you are inside or outside the court boundaries, it is a fault.
  • All NVZ violations are faults.

Other Basic Rules
Hand Hitting the Ball: Balls hit by the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle, are legal. It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body.
Hand Hitting the Ball: Balls hit by the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle, are legal. It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body.
Hand Hitting the Ball: Balls hit by the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle, are legal. It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body.
Hand Hitting the Ball: Balls hit by the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle, are legal. It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body.
  • Hand Hitting the Ball: Balls hit by the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle, are legal. It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body.
  • An “out” ball is not “out” until it bounces. Never catch it or let it hit you in the air.
  • Make calls immediately.  
  • Double/Carry Hits : A ball hit during one continuous single direction stroke is legal, even though the ball may be unintentionally hit twice or "carried".
  • Switching Hands : Paddle may be switched from hand to hand at any time. Two-handed shots are also legal.
  • Reaching over net : If the ball bounces onto your side of the court and spins back over the net, you may reach over the net (ie. breaking the plane of the net) to hit the ball. It is considered a valid return as long as you or your paddle does not touch the net.
  • Fault vs. Partner Communication: A player can call the ball “out” as their partner is hitting the ball as long as the call is made immediately. If you want to tell your partner to not hit the ball, yell "bounce it", "let it go", "no", or “out”. Saying "out" before the ball touches the court is deemed communication between the players. Saying out after the ball touches the court is deemed an “out” call and stops play.
  • Around the net: It is not a fault if a ball being played lands in the opponent's court by traveling around the post and not passing directly over the net. 
Singles Play 
All rules for doubles play apply to singles play with the following exception: 
  • When serving in singles, each player serves from the RIGHT HAND court when the score is "0" or an even number, and from the LEFT HAND court when the score is "1,3, 5, etc. or an odd number. 
Conduct of Play 
Playing Pickleball is a friendly and social game and we demand a code of ethical and proper manners at all times. Those people who abuse our conduct of play can receive everything from a warning to the extreme case of being banned from the CTPA and tournaments.
 
  • Line calling is based on the honor system and good sportsmanship. 
Calling balls out: 
  • Defer to the closest player with the best visual angle.
  • Questionable calls should be in favor of your opponents.
  • Make an immediate call.
  • When you request an opinion of an opponent, accept the opinion of that player. 
The ball travels quickly. Try to make the fairest call that you can, and always respect the call made by the player who is closer to the ball than you. Bad calls happen and everyone makes them on occasion so maintain a positive attitude and demeanor.
The ball travels quickly. Try to make the fairest call that you can, and always respect the call made by the player who is closer to the ball than you. Bad calls happen and everyone makes them on occasion so maintain a positive attitude and demeanor.

No fighting, shouting or swearing. Those who feel threatened or abused by another player are encouraged to report that person to CTPA, Cranberry Parks & Recreation, or call 911. Please try to be courteous to other players.

Anyone who causes intentional damage to the SportCourts area will be held liable to pay for the damage and will be prosecuted. All players must be wearing shirts & proper court shoes.