If you’re curious about pickleball, the rapidly growing sport that’s been garnering attention from big names, professional leagues, and local communities, you’re not alone. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer eager to dive into the game, understanding the rules and equipment is essential for an enjoyable experience. This article provides an overview of the key elements of pickleball and the fundamentals you need to know before stepping onto the court.

Pickleball Equipment and Basics

Pickleball equipment is relatively straightforward. The game requires a perforated plastic ball, similar in appearance to a heavier version of a Wiffle ball. To engage in serves and volleys, players need a rigid paddle made of wood or composite material, combined with basic hand-eye coordination.

Court Dimensions and Characteristics

Pickleball is typically played on a court measuring 20 feet by 44 feet, resembling the dimensions of a badminton court. This compact size, suitable for both singles and doubles play, emphasizes precision shots and quick reactions. The net height matches that of a tennis court, measuring 36 inches on the ends and 34 inches in the middle.

A unique feature of pickleball is the 7-foot non-volley zone, known as “the kitchen,” located on both sides of the net. This area prevents players from executing volleys (shots hit from the air) within the zone, promoting fairness and strategic gameplay. Hitting a volley shot while positioned in the kitchen results in a fault.

The Pickleball Itself

The official pickleball used in the game weighs between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces, with a diameter ranging from 2.87 to 2.97 inches. The design of the ball varies based on the court type. Outdoor balls, suited for outdoor courts, feature 40 evenly spaced small holes on the surface. These balls have a smoother and harder plastic composition, making them slightly heavier. On the other hand, indoor balls designed for wooden surfaces boast a softer plastic and a minimum of 26 larger circular holes. The only requirement for the ball’s color is that it contrasts with the court for visibility.

Pickleball Paddle Specifications

Unlike tennis racquets, pickleball paddles are crafted from rigid, non-compressible materials. These paddles, commonly made from wood or composite materials, feature a smooth surface. While paddle lengths may vary, official paddles must adhere to the restriction of a combined length and width not exceeding 24 inches. Weight, however, does not carry any specific limitations.

Gameplay and Scoring

Pickleball’s gameplay draws parallels to other racquet sports like tennis, ping pong, and badminton. Due to its compact court and quick-paced action, the sport shares similarities with ping pong. Games are played to 11 points, with a requirement to win by a margin of two points.

In doubles play, the right service position player (Team 1) serves diagonally to the opposite corner. The serve must be executed with an underhand swing below the waist while positioned behind the service line. The server announces the score and “two,” indicating “zero-zero-two.” To balance the serving advantage, the initial server becomes the second server.

The serve must land within Team 2’s right service area to be considered valid. A serve landing elsewhere constitutes a fault.

Scoring and Court Popularity

Only the serving team can score points; the receiving team does not accumulate points. As you continue playing, familiarizing yourself with the comprehensive rules and scoring basics is highly beneficial.

Pickleball’s popularity is on the rise, with numerous courts across the United States and Canada. According to Places2Play, an online database by USA Pickleball, there were approximately 9,524 places with pickleball courts by the end of 2021. The sport has witnessed significant growth, with roughly 4.8 million pickleball players in 2021, as reported by the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball. The sport has experienced an average annual growth of 11.5% over the past five years, with a notable 14.8% increase from 2020 to 2021.


Pickleball, a unique and fast-paced sport, combines elements from various racquet sports, making it an exciting and engaging activity for players of all ages. Understanding the game’s rules, equipment, and scoring intricacies is essential to fully enjoy the pickleball experience. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a curious beginner, diving into pickleball offers a chance to embrace a sport that’s gaining momentum on the national stage.