Pickleball 101: A Beginner's Guide to Equipment and Rules


Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States and has quickly become a new favorite for people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re looking for competition at the highest level or just a fun activity to do during your free time, pickleball meets your demand.

If you’re looking to begin playing this awesome sport but aren’t sure where to begin, look no further! Here is what equipment is required as well as the five major rules to know prior to playing pickleball for the first time:

What you need:

  • Paddles
  • Balls 
  • Shoes
  • A court or net
  • 1-3 other people to play with

Basic Overview of the Rules:

Rule #1: Points begin with an underhand serve hit behind the baseline.

Each pickleball point starts with an underhand serve hit behind the baseline. Initially, the player on the right side of the serving team begins serving. The serve is hit diagonally and must land in the opposite side’s box, and must clear the kitchen line (more on that soon!) 

Rule #2: 2 Bounce Rule


When the ball is served, the receiving team has to let it bounce prior to returning. Following this, the serving team must let it bounce once more on their side before making contact. This totals two bounces. After two bounces, both teams are free to volley any ball out of the air, as long as they are not in the kitchen/non-volley zone. 

Rule #3: Non-Volley Zone/Kitchen

The non-volley zone, also known as “the kitchen”, is the area within 7 feet on both sides of the net. It is marked off with a line and on many dedicated courts, is painted a different color. Players cannot make contact with the ball in this area prior to it bouncing. 
If a player volleys a ball out of the air while making contact with the non-volley zone, a fault is called and a side out or point is awarded to the other team, depending on who was serving. 

Rule #4: Scoring system

In pickleball, points can only be scored by the serving team. Most games are normally played to 11 points, win by 2. In tournaments or leagues, they may play best of three games, or extend matches to 15 or even 21 points, win by two.


The score is called as 3 numbers. The first number stated is the serving team’s score, the second is the opposing team’s score, and the third is the server the serving team is on (either one or two). For example: If the score was called as “3-2-1”, the serving team would have 3 points, the opposing team has 2, and the serving team would be on serve #1 during this serving series. 

Rule #5: Both partners serve


In doubles, both partners get to serve, with the exception being the beginning of a game where only one player on the initial serving team serves (hence why games begin “0-0-2”.) 

The serve starts on the right side, and teammates alternate spaces while keeping the same server until they lose a point. Once a point is lost, the other player on the serving team scores. Once another point is lost, a “side out” occurs and the serve is sent over to the other team who was just receiving.  

And that’s it! While pickleball’s rules and its scoring system may be a little daunting at first, it's easy to get the hang of after just a few times playing. Be sure to check out Niupipo’s blog for more tips on how to improve your pickleball game!

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