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by Kelly Campbell

Accompanying tremendous pickleball growth over the past few years is a wide range of new pickleball vocabulary. From the latest slang terms to names for emerging techniques to organization acronyms, there are so many pickleball terms out there that it can be hard to keep up.

Take a look at TrackitHub’s beginner-friendly pickleball dictionary and stay up to date with the latest in pickleball terminology. 

Ace – a serve that is not returned, resulting in the serving team winning a point 

Approach Shot – when a player hits a ball while approaching the net and it lands backcourt

ATP (Around the Post) – a legal shot that is returned without crossing over the net

Backcourt – part of the pickleball court near the baseline

Backhand – a stroke where a player hits the ball on their non-dominant side/across the body from where they hold the paddle

Backspin – when the pickleball rotates backwards in air after a shot

Banger – when a player consistently hits hard drive shots; attacking shot

Carry – a shot where the pickleball does not bounce off the paddle but is carried across the paddle

Dead ball – a ball that is no longer in play; something has occurred to halt the game 

Dink –  a simple soft shot that is taken at the top of the kitchen and lands in the opponent’s kitchen (non-volley zone)

Drive Shot – a harder shot that is hit from mid or back court

Doubles – a pickleball match played with four players total and two players per team

Double Bounce – also known as “two bounce rule”; pickleball rule where ball must bounce before returning

Double Hit – a legal move where a ball can be hit twice by one team before returning over the net if during one continuous stroke  

Drop Shot: frequently taken from the baseline, a soft shot that lands in the opponent’s non-volley zone

Fault – when a player has committed an error; for example, if a ball is hit out of bounds or hits the net

Follow Through – the part of a player’s stroke after the ball is hit; where the paddle ends up post-hit

Foot Fault – when a player places their foot illegally (over the line) during service; results in loss of service

Forehand – a stroke made from your dominant side/paddle-holding side

Grip – the way one holds their pickleball paddle

Groundstroke – any shot made after the pickleball has bounced

Kitchen – a common name that is part of a pickleball court known as the “no-volley zone” 

Ladder – a player’s ranking over a period of time relative to other players 

Ladder League – a competition that encourages players of similar skill levels to compete with one another

League – a group of pickleball players that compete in organized matches

Let – a serve that hits the net but lands in the service area; let serves are replayed; “let’s do it again!”

Line Call – a ball that contacts the area outside of the line; players or line judges are responsible to make judgment calls whether a ball lands outside the line

Lob – a high-arc hit with lofted trajectory; relatively high shot that is effective as both an offensive or defensive (gives a player time to get into position after hit) shot 

No Man’s Land – the area between the non-volley zone and the baseline also known as the “transition area”

Non-Volley Zone: commonly known as “the kitchen”; refers to area of the pickleball court (within 7 feet on both sides of the net) where players can not step foot in 

Overgrip – a tape-like wrap that goes over a player’s paddle handle to improve grip and control of paddle; usually wicks away moisture and provides comfort for paddle

Pickle! – a slang term often shouted during service

Pickled – when a team does not score any points during a match

Pickler – a pickleball fanatic; someone who is obsessed with pickleball

Poach – when a player moves across the court to hit a ball that is in their partner’s area

PPA – the Professional Pickleball Association; professional pickleball tournaments with cash prizes

Rally – continuous play between a serve and a fault

Round Robin –  structured pickleball play that is separated by skill level; each player/team plays multiple games and wins the round robin based on overall match wins (each win = a point)

Serve – an underhand hit that puts the ball in play

Side Out – when one player/team loses service resulting in their opponent gaining service

Split Step – proactive approach to setting up your body to return the ball; a hop that a player makes when their opponent makes contact with the ball that gets them ready to return the ball

Smash – a forceful, aggressive offensive stroke; a stroke that is hit from as high as possible at a sharp downward angle

Stacking – pickleball strategy where players on a team are arranged in a non-traditional way that optimizes the chances of hitting a strong shot; players are lined up on one side of the court and can move to wherever they can hit their strongest shot 

Top Spin – a stroke that makes the ball rotate and allows the ball to drop faster than other strokes

Volley – action at the net where the ball does not bounced and is passed back and forth between opponents

Unforced Error – a mistake that is made that results in point loss; refers to a mistake made by the player themself and not because of their opponent’s skill or move

USAPA – USA Pickleball Association; organization that maintains official rules of pickleball, holds an annual championship, provides player rankings