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Pickleball is a mashup of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, and although it may seem like a new game, it originated in the mid-1960s on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Played as a backyard game at picnics and family reunions that the whole family could play, it has now morphed into an international sensation. Its rising popularity is due to its accessibility and social, fun nature. You don’t need to be a top athlete to enjoy the sport, making it a favorite among all age groups.

Get Started with Pickleball

Pickleball, like other racket sports, doesn’t require a lot of complicated equipment. To get started with pickleball, we’ll walk you through the basics.

  1. Paddles – You won’t be able to use tennis, ping pong paddles, or other rackets, even though they look a bit like a ping pong paddle. Pickleball paddles are lightweight and made of composite materials like wood, graphite, or aluminum. For beginners, look for a comfortable grip and a paddle with a large sweet spot.
  2. Balls – Balls are different than other racket sports, too. They are similar to a whiffle ball but are exclusively designed for pickleball.
  3. Sign Up! – Pickleball offerings vary by club location, but include everything from open court time to start playing independently, clinics and socials to meet other players, and lessons for children and adults. Explore the options at your local club and register today!

With pickleball’s worldwide appeal, many communities have modified or dedicated pickleball courts. A few things that make a pickleball court different include the size of the court and net height.

A pickleball net is set 34 inches in height at the center, while the tennis net is 42 inches on the sides and 36 inches at the center. Pickleball courts are different sizes than tennis courts. A pickleball court is 20 x 44 feet. The smaller size of pickleball courts makes the game fast-paced and exciting to watch and play. Additionally, the smaller court means it can be more accessible to players of all levels because it’s easier to reach the ball and hit it over the net. Many athletic and recreation centers use tennis courts for pickleball, with boundaries clearly defined from a tennis court.

Top 5 Pickleball Rules

Understanding pickleball rules is essential to enjoying the game and competing effectively. Pickleball and its popularity with various people, skills, and ages say a lot about its’ relative ease of play. Even though it is accessible to a broad group, it has unique rules. Be prepared for your next match, knowing these five pickleball rules.

  1. Serving: Always serve underhand, ensuring the paddle head is below the wrist when striking the ball. The serve must be made diagonally, landing in the opposite service court.
  2. Scoring: Only the serving side can score. Points are won by playing until the ball commits an error or goes out.
  3. Faulting: A fault is when the ball touches any part outside the lines, doesn’t clear the net, or violates the non-volley zone.
  4. Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen): Players can’t volley the ball (hit without bouncing) if they’re inside this 7-foot zone on both sides of the net.
  5. Serving Techniques: Players must serve from behind the baseline. The ball must be hit without bouncing, and the server must have both feet behind the baseline.

Step-by-Step Pickleball Guide for Beginners

Game Time

A coin toss will decide who serves first. The player will serve from the right-hand side of the court and aim diagonally. Play continues with volleys or groundstrokes until a fault is made. A pickleball game can be played to 11, 15, or 21 points, and a person or doubles team must win by two points.

Doubles vs. Single Play

Both singles and doubles formats and rules are played similarly. The positioning of players and their strategy will differ the most. Doubles-play involves more intricate strategies such as:

  • Stacking: a strategy where players realign themselves to have a specific player on one side.
  • Poaching: When a player moves to hit a ball that their partner would play

Most importantly, double partners need to have strong communication with each other, and this usually comes with practice.


As with any sport, there are a few rules of etiquette that encourage respect and fairness and make it enjoyable for all participants. It also keeps the game safe and helps establish standards for future players. Remember, good sportsmanship makes the game enjoyable for everyone.

Our rules of conduct include:

  • Always respect your opponents and your partner.
  • Avoid rude verbal and non-verbal language.
  • Know the rules of the game and apply them.
  • If you are an advanced player, be considerate when playing those less skilled.
  • Wait for a break in play to retrieve a stray ball or enter a court.
  • Call out the score before serving to keep everyone informed.

Techniques to Try for Pickleball

Every sport requires training and practice, but patience and a positive attitude go a long way in keeping the game fun. It is vital to master the basics first and to remember that pickleball is more about control over power. Here are a few techniques (and terms) to master:

  • Deep serve – a serve that bounces close to the baseline of the opponent’s side.
  • Dink – a soft shot dropped just over the net in the opponent’s non-volley zone.
  • Striking – a strike is hit after the ball bounces.
  • Volley – a hit before the ball bounces.

Strategy Tips for Pickleball

For pickleball, top strategies include focusing on the ball’s placement over power. You’ll be amazed at how effective a soft shot can be over a powerful one. Also, being alert and keeping the ball in play are essential strategies for new players. Try to hit deep to keep opponents on the move.

  • Keep your paddle up and be ready.
  • Keep the ball in play.
  • Master the forehand and backhand shots.
  • Hit the ball where your opponent is not.

What Are the Most Common Mistakes in Pickleball?

If you’ve played tennis or other racket sports, it may take a little adjusting to pickleball. The fast nature of pickleball requires quick decision-making, and it can be easy to rush to the opponent and make mistakes. Here are some common mistakes a new pickler should be aware of and fix quickly.

  1. Not stretching or preparing for play.
  2. Taking eyes off the ball.
  3. Improper, overhand serve. Remember to serve underhand.
  4. Serving into the wrong box. The ball must be served diagonally.
  5. Serving the ball too high and giving opponents a potential offensive shot.
  6. Too much power. Pickleball is about the soft touch, dinks and controlled volleys.

Find Pickleball Courts and More at acac

At acac we love getting out and moving any which way, and pickleball is a fun way to do just that. It’s easy to learn, and we’re sure you’ll be hooked once you play your first match. acac has racquet sports activities for new to advanced players as well as social events and open court time. The pickleball courts are open to acac members at select club locations.

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