How to Play Pickleball

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There’s no time like the present to learn a new game, and pickleball is an ideal choice for those who just want to get out and have some fun. It’s not heavily regulated, which means you can enjoy it casually.

Here, we’re covering everything you need to know about playing pickleball. Once you’ve reached the end, you’ll be ready to find the nearest court and enjoy the game with friends and family!

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​Understanding the Game Basics

how to play pickleball

It’s tough to start a game of pickleball unless you know the basics. You’re going to want to know where it’s played and what equipment you need so that you can get started. Below, we’re covering that for you so that you’re ready to go.


There aren’t many things you need in order to play pickleball. Naturally, you’re going to need a place to play as well as some standard equipment.

The good news is that none of these things are difficult to come by or terribly expensive, making it a pretty easy game to get into if you’re interested.

To begin with, you’re going to need a space with a decent net.

Keep in mind that the net needs to be lower than it would be for badminton.

So if you’re using a badminton space for playing pickleball, you will need to be able to lower the net in order to play the game correctly.

Next, you’ll also need some paddles. Typically, there are specially-designed wooden paddles available for playing pickleball.

You’ll then also need a plastic ball. These are pretty similar to wiffle balls, but tend to be a little bit on the smaller side.

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Where is it played?

There are a variety of places in which you can play pickleball. For those who want to find areas specifically designed for pickleball, the Pickleball Association for the United States can provide lists of ideal spots.

There are also often local leagues that you can join if you’re interested.

Because pickleball is becoming so popular in many areas, it’s getting easier and easier to find a place to enjoy the game, and people to enjoy it with.

Furthermore, it’s an ideal way to get out, spend some time socializing, get some exercise and having a great time overall.

Additionally, pickleball isn’t a game that requires a whole lot of space. This makes it a convenient game to play just about anywhere you can get a proper net up.

If you want to play in your back yard, that’s totally possible. Additionally, you can put up a net on the beach or while camping and add to the fun.

What’s the objective?

As with many other games, the objective of pickleball is to ultimately score a greater number of points than the person you are playing against.

In the next section, we’ll take a look at exactly what score you need in order to win.

In addition to trying to win, the most important objective of the game is to have fun! Enjoy what you’re doing, get together with friends and spend some time out in the open air.

For those with disabilities, pickleball can also be a game that is easier to enjoy than similar, but more intense, sports.

For some, pickleball can be a great game to try out when you’re interested in tennis or badminton. It’s an easier game that can allow younger players to get used to the basic idea of those games without as much hard work.

Or, it can just be a fun game you enjoy with friends and family!

How do you win?

In order to win at the game of pickleball, you have to know how to win. That means having an understanding of the score you’re trying to reach.

It can certainly be a little tricky, as there is an addition to the winning score of pickleball that you may not see in other sports.

To begin with, the score you want to aim for is 11. However, whoever wins the game needs to have at least two more points than the other player.

This can mean that the score may rise above 11 by the time that separation in scores is reached. However, it does also mean that you cannot end up with a draw in pickleball, as someone always has to have at least two more points.

The winner is always clear, and you can always play again and get a new result.

Pickleball Rules

The rules of the game are key to knowing how to play correctly, and even more importantly, how to win correctly. Not to worry! We’ve got it all covered for you so that you know how to get the game rolling and start developing your ideal strategy.

Starting the game

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Before you get started playing, it’s important to know how things need to be set up, and how to get started. To begin with, the net needs to be placed at a certain height.

Make sure that on both ends, the net is kept at 36 inches above the ground.

Furthermore, ensure that everyone playing understands where the boundaries of the court are.

If this is an actual pickleball court, then this won’t be an issue.

However, if you’re using a different kind of court, you may want to mark out the boundaries clearly so there are no issues with what might be out of bounds.

When you’re ready to get started, you can determine who is going to serve first with the toss of a coin.

That way, the results are always fair and you can get to the game quickly and easily.

Serves and playing

As you might expect, there are some pickleball rules related to both playing the game and making serves. As you might expect, serves have to make it over the net without touching it.

This is really just a rule that keeps things flowing smoothly. Many of us know how the net can cause a ball to go awry.

Furthermore, when the ball is being served, it needs to be aimed in a diagonal direction.

Then, it needs to bounce before the person on the other side of the net can serve it back. Ideally, the ball will continue to clear the net, otherwise it will need to be served again.

If you’re playing in doubles rather than singles, you’ll also want to pay attention to who the ball is being served to, as that’s the only person who can hit it back.

Keeping the focus on the game is key to ensuring everyone is playing by the rules.

Faults in the game

While playing, it’s a good idea to watch out for the faults that can occur during the game.

Understanding these faults can help you to note when something goes wrong, and make sure that the game is being played fairly and correctly.

Some of these faults can include:

  • The ball being struck out of bounds
  • The ball entering a non-volley area and being volleyed anyway
  • When a serve is taking place, the ball reaching the non-volley area in any way
  • The ball hitting the net in any way
  • When the ball is struck before having the chance to bounce

If you notice these faults, don’t be afraid to call them out politely.

Ensuring that the rules stay in place makes the game fair, and gives everyone the chance to win without having to rely on underhanded tactics. Not to mention, it keeps the game fun!

Strategies You Can Employ

The strategies below can help you with developing a way to win the game. You can use them as you see fit, as long as you’re still playing by the rules.

Watching for weaknesses

If you’re trying to learn the best ways to win, it can help to keep an eye on your opponent. Watch to see if they appear to have weaknesses with their backhand or forehand hits.

Once you’ve located a weakness on either side, you can use it to your advantage.

Serving on whichever side is weaker for your opponent can give you a better chance at winning.

You may also find that it helps to try getting the ball further into the court so that they have to try for it. Just be careful to mind the boundaries.

​Keeping opponents on their toes

One of the strategies that can help you in winning the game is to keep your opponents on their toes.

That means staying on your toes as well, and being prepared to move as needed. Additionally, there are a few tricks you can use.

The first is shaking it up by using a different kind of hit or serve here and there. You can also aim the ball between your opponents when you’re playing in doubles, making them have to respond quickly.

Furthermore, any hit that requires your opponent to have to move is one that they might be more likely to mess up on.