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by Kelly Campbell 

Whether you’re looking to learn how to play pickleball yourself or want to teach new pickleball recruits the basics, you’re in the right place. 

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the US and has been for the last few years. That’s because pickleball is easy to learn, great for all ages, and has customizable intensity so you can engage in casual or competitive play. The sport is a great way to exercise enjoyably, spend time outdoors and socialize. The pickleball community is vibrant and growing with plenty of online resources and avid picklers. It’s easy to find and join online groups, leagues, and clubs near you.

TrackitHub has put together this beginner-friendly pickleball guide for picklers of all skill levels to get back to the basics. Also, check out TrackitHub’s Pickleball Dictionary for a comprehensive list of pickleball terms you’ll come across as you play. 

What Is Pickleball? 

Pickleball is best described as a paddle sport that is a crossover of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. You can play singles or doubles matches (although doubles tend to be the most common). 

Pickleball is played on a court with four main lines – baseline, sideline, centerline, and the non-volley-zone line (aka the kitchen). There are two sides and a net separating them. 

What Do You Need to Play Pickleball?

Luckily, pickleball equipment is simple –– all you need is a paddle, ball, and court. Pickleball gear can range in price, but you can get started with inexpensive paddles and balls. Pickleball Central and Amazon are great places to find cheap pickleball equipment. 

Many cities are adding pickleball courts in public areas and parks, and there are more and more pickleball-specific sports facilities and clubs being built each year. If you’re having trouble finding a court near you, there are plenty of temporary solutions to get you started. Try using chalk or tape to draw lines on pavement or other sports court surfaces. You can also get an inexpensive temporary pickleball net to take the game with you on the go. Check out this portable pickleball set from Pickleball Central. 

The Basics – How Do You Play Pickleball?

  • Step 1: Decide which team will serve first (use a fair method – like rock, paper, scissors, or flipping a coin)
  • Step 2: The serving team serves underhand and cross-court to the opposite side. 
  • Step 3: The receiving side must let the ball bounce and return to the serving side. The serving side must also let the ball bounce before returning. 
  • Step 4: Once the ball has been served and returned, each side will try to keep the rally going. The game stops when one side makes a fault (the ball goes out of bounds, etc.). 
  • Step 5: If the receiving team makes the fault, the serving team wins a point. The same server will switch places with their teammate and serve from the other corner of the court. If the service team makes the fault, the ball goes to their opponent and it is now the opponent’s serve. 
  • Step 6: Repeat the process and volley back and forth with your opponent. Remember that there can be no double bounces, you can’t hit the net, and you can’t hit the ball out of bounds. You also cannot step into the kitchen when hitting a ball out of the air.  
  • Step 7: The first team to 11 wins! However, you must win by 2 points or you keep playing until you do so. 

How Do You Keep Track of Score in Pickleball?

Pickleball scoring is one of the more complex parts of the game. The most important rule is that only the serving team can score. Players announce the score before each serve. If the serving team loses the rally, the serve moves to the next player on that same team. If they lose service again, it goes to their opponent (referred to as a “side out”). In doubles, the player on the right side serves first. In singles, players serve on the right side if the score is even, and on the left side if the score is odd. 

In doubles matches, the first serving team only has one service turn. When service goes to the other side, each team then has two service turns for the rest of the game. 

This is the template for scoring:

Singles – 0 – 0 (server’s score – receiver’s score)

Doubles – 0 – 0 – 0 (serving team’s score – receiving team’s score – service turn)

The first team or player to 11 points wins, but players must win by two points. That means that you keep the game going past 11 points until one side wins by two. 

Once you nail down the basics, there’s plenty of room to grow within the sport. Check out TrackitHub’s blogs for more pickleball news, resources, and strategies to keep you playing at your best.


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