The game of Pickleball was developed so that all members of a family could participate so the rules were kept simple. Many of the rules are an adaptation from tennis, ping pong and volley ball.
The rules of Pickleball have been published by the International Federation of Pickleball The Federation refers to their rules as, IFPA Official Tournament Rulebook. These are the official rules that must be followed for a sanctioned tournament but adaptations of the rules can be used for non sanctioned and recreational play.
There is no reason why teachers can not make changes to accommodate a smaller space or younger players. As long as basic rules are followed, the main objective is to have fun. For teachers and players who want all the technical aspects click on IFPA Official Tournament Rule Book.
Pickleball Canada will make modifications to rules for non sanctioned tournaments held in Canada as they are required.
Here are the key rules that beginning players need to know.
The Two Bounce Rule
The ball must bounce twice, once on each side of the court, before players can hit the ball in the air or on the “volley”. When the ball is served, it bounces in the receivers service court, the serving team must stay back and wait for the ball to bounce again on their side before they can move up and play the ball in the air.
This rule is instrumental in providing long rallies in the game of Pickleball. The serving team cannot serve the ball deep and then run to the net and smash it down “the throat” of their opponents. They must stay back and wait for the return bounce. New players often forget this and start to move up quickly with the serve and get caught hitting the ball in the air.
Coaches/instructors must remind both players on the serving team to stay back at the service line until the ball has bounced on their side. After the ball has bounced twice either team can play the ball on the bounce or in the air.
The Non-Volley Zone Faults
The Non-Volley Zone is a rectangle that is 7' X 20 feet on both sides of the net. Since Pickleball was designed as a family game this area was put in place so that a player has to stay back from the net when hitting the ball in the air. Thus, cutting down on the number of smashes and possible injury to an opposing player. This also helps make for longer rallies.
This is one of the most difficult rules for players to get used to especially tennis players. You can not step on the NV-line or into the NV-Zone when making a volley shot, a shot in the air. Your forward momentum cannot take you into the NV-zone after you hit the ball even if it is missed on the other side. No article of clothing, jewelery or paddle can fall into the zone on a volley or it is a fault. Your hat or paddle falling in is considered a fault.
Key points. This only applies when you are volleying or hitting the ball in the air. You can step in after making a ground stroke. You can go into the NV-zone to get a ball that bounces in there first. You can stand in the NV-zone all day if you want, you just can not play the ball in the air. It is a fault if you step in even after the ball is missed or hit by the opponents.
It may help to tell beginners that this rule was introduced to prevent players from going to the net and smashing it at their opponents as in tennis. It is safer and longer rallies result because there are fewer "put aways' standing 7' back from the net.
The game of Pickleball is usually played to a score of 11. The winning team must win by two points or play continues until one team wins by 2. In tournament play, games can be played to 15 or 21. Unlike tennis or badminton, only the serving team can win a point. The receiving team must get the “side down” and get the serve back before earning points.
You earn a point when the other team commits a fault. Faults are described below.