Rules of the game - quick guide



  • Pickleball is played either as doubles or singles, with doubles being played more often.
  • The field size and rules are the same for both singles and doubles. The field size is the same as the badminton doubles field, with the small exception of the service/non-volley line, which is 15 cm further away from the net. See details here.

Pickleball Feld Beschreibung


  • The arm of the server must move in an upward arc when the ball is hit.
  • Racket contact with the ball must not be made above waist level.
  • The head of the paddle must not be above the highest part of the wrist at contact.
  • A "drop serve" (dropping the ball) is also allowed, in which case none of the above elements apply.
  • When the ball is struck, the feet of the server must not touch the court or outside the imaginary extension of the side line or center line, and at least one foot must be behind the baseline on the court surface or the ground behind the baseline.
  • The serve is diagonal crosscourt and must land within the boundaries of the opposite diagonal court.
  • Only one service attempt is allowed per serving player.

Impact sequence

  • Both players of the serving doubles team have the opportunity to serve and score points until they commit an error * (except for the first serving sequence of each new game).
  • The first serve of each side-out is from the right/straight court.
  • When a point is scored, the server switches sides and the server initiates the next serve from the left/odd court.
  • As more points are scored, the server continues to alternate back and forth between left and right field until an error is committed and the first server loses the serve.
  • If the first server loses the serve, the partner serves from his side of the court (except for the first service sequence of the game*).
  • The second server continues to serve until his team makes a mistake and loses the serve to the opposing team.
  • Once the serve goes to the opponent (after a side out), the first serve is from the right/same court and both players on that team have the opportunity to serve and score points until their team commits two errors.
  • In singles, the server serves from the right/even court if his score is even, and from the left/odd court if the score is odd.

*At the beginning of each new game, only one player of the serving team has the opportunity to serve (until a fault), after which the serve passes to the other team.


  • Points are scored only by the serving team.
  • Games are normally played to 11 points, and can be won by 1 or 2 points (golden point at 15).
  • Tournament games can be up to 15 or 21, and you can often only win with a 2-point lead (golden point at 19 or 25).
  • Tournament matches are often played in 2 or 3 sets. The side of the court is changed at the start of each set. If the game is played to 2 winning sets and 11 points, the side is changed at point 6 at 1:1 in the 3rd set.
  • If the serving team's score is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10), the player who was the first server for that team in the game is in the right/even field when serving or returning serve. If the score is odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), that player is in the left/odd court when serving or returning serve.

Twice-impact rule

  • When the ball is served, the receiving team must bounce it before returning it, and then the serving team must bounce it before returning it, so two bounces.
  • After the ball bounces once on each team's court, both teams can either volley the ball (hit the ball before it bounces) or play it after it bounces (groundstroke).
  • The two-bounce rule eliminates the serve-and-volley advantage and extends rallies.

Calling the score

This is often the most confusing part of the game, but it's not difficult and you'll master it pretty quickly once you've played a few games.

The guidelines for the indication of the score (scores)

  1. The server will call the game state.
  2. When calling the points, the server's score is called first.

In the doubles
The score is called (e.g. 6:4), followed by the number 1 or 2, which indicates whether server 1 or server 2 is playing the serve.

6:4-1 means that the serving team won "6" points and the receiving team won "4" points. The "1" means that the first server serves. If the team now loses the point (the team commits an error), it becomes 6:4-2. The "2" indicates that the second server serves, and that if the team commits another error of its own, the serve passes to the other team (side-out) - then it becomes 4:6-1.

Start of play
At the beginning of a doubles match, only one team member gets the opportunity to serve. So when the server calls the first score, it starts with: 0:0 and 2. This number 2 called means that the ball goes directly to the opponent after losing the serve.


  • A ball that touches any part of any line, except the volley free zone line on a serve, is considered "in".
  • A serve that touches the volley free zone line is too short and a fault.  

Volley Free Zone

  • The Volley Free Zone is the court area within 7 feet (2.13 m) on either side of the net.
  • Volley is forbidden inside the volley free zone. This rule prevents players from executing smashes from a position inside the zone.
  • It is a fault if the player steps on the volley free zone including the line when taking a volley and/or if the player's momentum causes him or something he has put on or is wearing to touch the volley free zone including the associated lines.
  • It is a fault if a player enters or touches the volley free zone after a volley by swinging, even if the ball is declared dead beforehand.
  • A player may be in the volley free zone at any time except when volleying a ball.
  • The volley free zone is commonly referred to as the "kitchen/kitchen".


  • A mistake is any action that interrupts the game due to a rule violation.
  • An error by the receiving team results in a point for the serving team.
  • An error by the serving team results in the loss of serve.


  1. flies into the NVZ on impact (including the line), or touches the ground outside the playing field. The side lines are considered to be the field.
  2. gets caught in the net! But if the ball touches the net on serve and lands in the correct court, it is NOT a fault!
  3. is taken away directly during the opponent's face-off before the ball has touched the ground. (Double Bounce Rule)
  4. Hits a player or a solid object before bouncing off the playing field.
  5. brushes the player, his clothes or his paddle during the game.
  6. is played back directly from the NVZ.
  7. or if the player, his clothing or his paddle comes into contact with the NVZ during a volley.

Determination of the service team

  • Any fair method can be used to determine which player or team has first choice of side, serve or return. (Example: coin toss)

Game strategy

Pickleball, unlike tennis, is played close to the non-volley zone.

"Dinking" is an effective, important doubles strategy. The player stands as close as possible to the kitchen line and tries to play the ball just over the net and into the opponent's non-volley zone or in front of the opponent's feet.

The aim of the dink is
By playing many short rallies, tempt your opponent to make mistakes by trying to score with a sharp shot. When your opponent dinks, it's best to respond with a dink as well, until a ball is a little too far over the net and you can use the opportunity of a fastball to press your opponent.

Skill components to be considered for the dink
Note the following for a successful dink:

  1. Stay facing the net
  2. Keep the feet as close as possible to the non-volley zone
  3. Hit the ball bent over in front of you
  4. Make smooth movements
  5. When dink, try to play the ball into your opponent's non-volley zone, also like cross-court.
  6. By "Volley and Dink", it shortens the time your opponents have to react to your ball.