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Rules of Pickleball

By Katy Willis

Pickleball was invented by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell in 1965. Unable to find a complete set of rackets to play a game of badminton, they proceeded to make some wooden paddles and used a plastic ball with holes in it. The name pickleball came from the name of Joel Pritchard's dog, Pickles, who kept running off with the ball during the game.

Equipment and Court Size

A pickleball court is 20 feet by 44 feet for both singles and doubles matches. The net across the middle of the court is 34 inches high in the middle of the court and goes up to 36 inches at each end. Each player uses an official pickleball paddle, which is similar in size and style to a pingpong paddle. The ball is made of plastic and has holes in it and is three inches in diameter.


A server hits the ball diagonally to the opponent and must serve with at least one foot behind the service line. The ball must be served with an underhand motion. Only one service is allowed, but if the ball catches the net on the way over, then a "let" is called and the service can be replayed. If the server loses the point, the service goes to the opposition. You can only win a point in pickleball if you served the shot.

Scoring and Faults

Each game is played to 11 points. After a service player wins the shot, she continues to serve until a point is lost. A team or individual must win by at least two points. A fault occurs if a ball is hit out of the court or doesn't clear the net. Players may not step into the non-volleying area and play a volley shot. It is also considered a fault if the pickleball is volleyed before the double bounce rule. After a serve the receiving team must let the serve bounce before returning the shot, and the server must then let the ball bounce before he hits the ball. After this double bounce rule, the ball may be volleyed or played after a bounce.

Doubles Play

The player in the right-hand half of the court always serves first. When the team that is serving makes a fault, the second player on that team will serve. After the second fault by the team, they stay in the same places and the serve will go to the other team. Players do not switch sections until after a point is scored.

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