What is one important rule of pickleball?

With names like "pickleball", the sport, which combines tennis, badminton and table tennis, has its own set of rules and regulations. If this is your first time playing pickleball, you should first learn a few rules to make the game more enjoyable and competitive.

The most important rule is "service," but let's dig into this.

On the surface, pickleball may look like any other racquet or paddle sport, but these rules set it apart, allowing it to reveal itself as an easy-to-learn, yet difficult-to-master discipline

Below we cover the basic rules you need to know before hitting the court. Remembering before you play will make your first few games much less confusing and much more fun.

Pickleball service rules

All pickleball points begin with a serve. In racket and paddle games, the act of putting the ball in play is the serve. How you do depends on the game you play, and of course pickleball has its quirks.

Rule 1: Volleyserve must be underhand.

The volley serve is by far the most common serving style in pickleball, and another option is the drop serve. Both are legal serves, but the volley serve has a unique underhand requirement.

Because it is the original and more popular of the two, many people believe that all serves must be underhand, but the drop serve is an exception to this requirement

However, as the most commonly used serve, you need to know what makes up an underhand volley serve. The underhand is measured and applied by hitting the ball with the leg below the waist, arcing the arm upwards, and the highest part of the head of the foot goes under the wrist

An underhand serve or pickleball serve should be delivered diagonally to the opponent and the ball stays on the court and goes over the net to avoid the kitchen.

This means that when you serve from the correct service area, you hit the ball diagonally into the opposing team’s right service court.

Everyone can fully clear the net or touch the net (until they get to the service court from there) but not the kitchen, which is also known as the non-volley zone or NVZ but more on that in a moment.

Rule 2: Score call

The point number must be stated before each point in the service.

In singles play, your score is announced first, then the receiver’s score. In doubles, you first announce your score, then the receiver’s score, then a third number that identifies you as the first or second server on your team.

Let's break down the score of doubles a bit more, where most new players stumble.

With respect to the third set of numbers in doubles, each team member is assigned a number on each service possession. 1 team is assigned the person serving first, and 2 partners. When your team gets the right to serve, the person in the correct service court is the first server.

Let's look at an example for additional reference. Imagine one side out on doubles, and the ball is deflected to the other side of the court. The first server is the person in the correct service court. Just before the first serve, they called out a series of three numbers.

The first number is the serving team’s score.

Number two is the score of the opposing team.

The third number is 1 because this player is the first server he owns.

In this example, the serving team has 4 points and the opposing team has 6 points, so the first server says "4, 6, 1" before serving.

Rule 3: Optional Service

The rotating service is one of the unique aspects of the pickle round. And like many other areas of the game, you'll find that doubles is played by slightly different rules than singles.

Optional service in singles

Serving rotation in singles is simple.

The server begins by serving the ball behind the baseline on the correct service court.

If you win the meeting, return it to the Left Service Court to be served.

Back and forth they go until they lose the meeting. In this case, the opposing player serves from his right serve court.

In singles, serve from the right service court if the score is even and from the left service court if the score is odd.