How To Play Pickleball

Pickleball is a paddleball sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Two or four players use paddles made of composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a whiffle ball, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports: the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules somewhat similar to tennis. Pickleball was invented in 1965 and is growing exponentially.
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Every Pickleball game begins with a serve. Serves follow 3 rules; they must be be made underhand with an upward motion; the ball must be struck below the waist; and the paddle must remain below the wrist. Serves are made diagonally across the court and must clear the Non-Volley Zone (NVZ).

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Return of Serve

The return of serve should be deep to allow time to approach the NVZ before your opponents. The double bounce rule gives the receiver the advantage in Pickleball. 

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Dinking is what defines Pickleball from most other sports. Simply put, a dink is an unattackable ball. Since points are generally won at the net, dinking it a required skill in Pickleball.

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3rd Shots

After the serve and return comes the aply named 3rd shot. The player has 3 choices; lob, drive or drop. The 3rd shot drop is generally accepted as the best choice but is also considered the most difficult shot to master. When executed correctly it creates an unattackable ball and allows players to approach the NVZ. 

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Forehand & Backhand strokes are similar to other racquet and paddle sports but since the court is smaller, these shots are generally made without a large backswing.

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Hand/Eye co-ordination is an essential skill to advance in Pickleball. Volleys can be fast paced exchanges at the net or can be used to keep you opponents at the back of the court.

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The lob can be a good weapon in your Pickleball arsenal when used correctly and at the appropriate times. 

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Overhead Smash

The overhead can be one of the most overwhelming shots in Pickleball as it can produce the fastest and hardest balls coming off the paddle. A good overhead requires good balance and preparation to execute correctly and safely.

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Respect The Net

It has been said that you play against 5 opponets in Pickleball. They are your two opponents, the lines, yourself, and the NET. Watch as Dave Weinbach (the Badger) tells you why respecting the net is a basic requirement in Pickleball.

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2024 USA Pickleball Rules

The 2024 Rulebook is here. Pickleball Association of Ontario, Pickleball Canada and USA Pickleball all follow the same rules. These are important to know for sanctioned play. Click the image to download your own copy.