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The following is an abbreviated form of the rules to give a quick overview of how the game is played.

Official USAPA Rules:


  • The serve must be made underhand.

  • Paddle contact with the ball must be below the server's waist.(navel level)

  • The serve is innitiated with at least one foot behind the baseline; neither foot may contact the baseline or court until after the ball is struct.

  • The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the condines of the opposite diagonal court.

  • Only one serve attempt is allowed, except in the event of a let (the ball touches the net on the serve and lands on the proper service court; let serves are replayed.


  • Both players on the serving doubles team have the opportunity to serve and score points until they commit a fault *(except for the first service sequence of each new game).

  • The first serve of each side-out is made from the right/even court.

  • If a point is scored, the server switches sides and the server initiates the next serve from the left/odd court.

  • As subsequent points are scored, the server continues switching back and forth until a fault is committed and the first server loses the serve.

  • When the first server loses the serve the partner then serves from their correct side of the court (except for the first service sequence of the game*)

  • The second server continues serving until his team commits a fault and looses the serve to the opposing team.

  • Once the serve goes to the opposition  (at the side out), the first serve is from the right/even court and both players on that team have the opportunity to serve and score points until their team commits two faults.

  • In singles the server serves from the right/even court when his or her score is even and from the left/odd when the score is odd.

*At the beginning of each new game only one partner on the serving team has the opportunity to serve before faulting, after which the service passes to the receiving team.


  • Points are scored only by the serving team.

  • Games are normally played to 11 points, win by 2.

  • Tournament games may be to 15 or 21, win by 2.

  • When the serving team's score is even (0,2,4,6,8,10)the player who was the first server in the game for that team will be in the right/even court when serving or receiving; when odd(1,3,5,7,9) that player will be in the left/odd court when serving  or receiving.


  • When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning, and then the serving team must let it bounce before returning, thus two bounces.

  • After the ball has bounced once in each team's court, both teams may either volley the ball(hit the ball before it bounces) or play it off the bounce(ground stroke).

  • The two-bounce rule eliminates the serve and volley advantage and extends rallies.


  • The non-volley zone is the court area within 7 feet on both sides of the net.

  • Volleying is prohibited within the ono-volley zone. This rule prevents players from executing smashes from a position within the zone.

  • It is a fault if, when volleying a ball, the player steps on the non-volley zone, including the line and/or when the player's momentum causes them or anything they are wearing or carrying to touch the non-volley zone including the associated lines.

  • It is a fault if, after volleying, a player is carried by momentum into or touches the non-volley zone, even if the volleyed ball is declared dead before this happens.

  • A player may legally be in the non-volley zone any time other than when volleying a ball.

  • The non-volley zone is commonly referred to as "The Kitchen."


  • A ball contacting any line, except the non-volley zone line  on the serve is considered "in."

  • A serve contacting the non-volley zone line is short and a fault.


  • A fault is any action that stops play because if a rule violation.

  • A fault by the receiving team results in a point for the serving team.

  • A fault by the serving team results in the server's loss of serve or side out.


  • Any fair method can be used to determine which player or team has first choice of side, service, or receive. A recognized way to start, is the team that is closest to Bainbridge, WA where Pickleball was created begins the game with a call of 0-0-2.

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