Pickleball 101: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering the Game

Look beyond the ordinary and dive into the world of Pickleball. This rapidly surging game seamlessly blends the best aspects of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, creating an exhilarating choice for fitness aficionados, retired tennis pros, and those in search of lively social interaction. In this all-encompassing guide, we’ll embark on an exciting journey through the realm of Pickleball, from mastering the equipment and rules to uncovering advanced strategies and tips that will elevate your game to pro-level excellence. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be primed to step onto the court with absolute confidence, ready to savor the adrenaline rush of Pickleball.


Pickleball Rules

Now that you have your equipment, let’s get into the basic rules of Pickleball:

Starting the Game: Like tennis, Pickleball begins with a serve. The server must stand behind the baseline and aim to serve the ball diagonally across the net.

Scoring: Scoring in Pickleball is different from tennis. Points are only scored by the serving side. The first side to reach 11 points, with a lead of at least 2, wins the game.

Double Bounce Rule: After the serve, both the serving and receiving sides must allow the ball to bounce once before volleying it in the air.

Kitchen Line: A non-volley zone near the net called the “kitchen.” Players cannot volley the ball while standing in this area but can enter it after it has bounced.

Faults: Common faults include stepping into the kitchen during a volley, serving from the wrong position, and failing to clear the net during the serve.


Pickleball Lingo

“The Kitchen” (AKA “The No-Volley Zone”)

One of the most peculiar terms in pickleball, “the kitchen” refers to the 7-foot non-volley zone on each side of the net. It’s a place where players can’t smash the ball over the net, making it a little like “the timeout corner” for pickleball. Stepping into “the kitchen” when volleying is a no-no, and this is where you’re likely to hear phrases like, “Stay out of the kitchen!”


“Dinking” is a crucial skill in pickleball, describing those super-soft shots that gently clear the net and gracefully land in your opponent’s no-volley zone. It’s like a tango between the paddles, and mastering the art of dinking is essential for control and strategy.


Although not directly related to gameplay, the term “pickle” in pickleball has sparked some wild speculation. Some say it was named after the inventor’s dog, Pickles, who chased after stray balls. Others believe it’s a nod to the “pickle boat,” which carries the last, remaining crew, referencing how players on the winning side are often the last ones standing on the court.

“Erne Shot”

Named after its creator, “Erne” is a maneuver where a player darts off the side of the court, bypassing the net’s edge, and catches the opponent off guard. 

“Pickleball Poetry”

Players in the sport of pickleball often use specialized terminology that can sound like riddles to those who are unfamiliar with it. For instance, they might use phrases like “third shot drop” which refers to a specific strategic move, or “five-oh” which is a term that describes a player’s skill level. This language can sometimes feel like a secret code that only experienced pickleball enthusiasts understand. Don’t be surprised if it all seems a bit confusing at first!


Pickleball Resources

To continue learning and improving your Pickleball skills, here are some valuable resources:

Pickleball Central: This website offers a wide range of equipment, blog articles, and videos on playing techniques.

USAPA (USA Pickleball Association): The official governing body for Pickleball in the United States. Their website has many resources, including rules, tournaments, and more.

YouTube: Numerous Pickleball enthusiasts and professionals share tutorials and match highlights on YouTube. Search for instructional videos to enhance your skills.

If you’re looking for a way to get started and meet new friends in Austin, joining SPORTSKIND’s Pickleball leagues is an excellent option. You can find leagues for all levels of play, from beginner to advanced. It’s a great way to enjoy the game, stay active, and make new friends. Ready to start your Pickleball journey? Grab your paddle!