According to the Economist, pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. Its backyard game-like nature contributed to its increasing popularity. And with a lot of players around the country, the United States annually holds tournaments to cater to the best players of the nation. The rules for singles pickleball differs only slightly from that of the original game.

Playing casual pickleball requires you to know its simple mechanics. Pickleball falls under the umbrella of paddleball sports that share some traits with racket sports. Players use solid wood paddles to hit the hollow ball. Its court shares the exact dimensions of a badminton court, along with its layout. Also, the net of the court and the rules applied resemble tennis.

rules for singles pickleball

Summary of Rules

Pickleball has two variations, which are the single and doubles. The rules for singles pickleball is very similar. Listed below are the rules to follow when playing pickleball.

Pickleball requires the player to serve the ball underhandedly. Also, the ball should path slantingly to the rival’s administration court without ricocheting it off the court. If the opposing side commits some faults, then the server gains some points. The faults include being unable to return the ball to the other side and out of bounds. Also, hitting the ball to the net acts as a fault in the game.

The sport has the set-up of only the serving side scoring. That means if the opposing side did not commit a fault during the first serve, then the player will continue serving. If the server committed the fault, then the opposite side will take the turn to serve. The same faults mentioned above apply to the server as well.

The first team to score 11 points wins the match. However, pickleball rules require a 2-point gap between the winner and the loser. That means, to win with 11 points, the opposing team should have the utmost 9 points. The game will continue with a deuce until a 2-point deficit becomes noticeable.

Now, that serves only as of the summary of the rules. So, here are the detailed rules for some aspects of the game.

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As mentioned above, players should serve underhandedly. To consider the service an underhand, the contact between the ball and the paddle should occur below the server’s waist.

Other than the form of the service, the player should not step on the court’s baseline when serving. Doing so will result in violations. Also, the server should position at least one foot from the baseline. The only time the server can enter the baseline is if he already hit the ball.

The path of the ball should create a diagonal line. That means serving from one corner of the court should result in the ball hitting the opposite diagonal corner.

Serving Sequence

The two players in each group of a game will serve until they submit a fault. The special case happens during the principal service of the game since only one player from each team will serve. After the one service from one team, the opposing team immediately gets the turn to serve.

Whenever the serving changes sides, the primary service is from the right side of the court. Also, every time a score happens, the team switches court for the next serve. 

If the first server commits a fault during a doubles game, the second server takes over the turn. Moreover, the second server will serve from the same side of the court their partner last hit the ball. If the second server then commits a fault, the opposing team gets their chance to serve.

Rules for singles pickleball varies slightly. Since there is only one player in each team in singles, a single fault automatically gives the serving to the other team. Also, the side where the player serves changes depending on the score. If the player has an even number score, he should serve from the left side. If the score happens to be an odd number, then the service should happen on the right side.


Like what is mentioned beforehand, only the serving team gets to score points. That means no matter how many times the receiving team returns the ball, they will not gain points. They can only prevent the serving team from scoring points. However, if the receiving team commits the fault, then the serving side gets the point.

Casual games usually use the first-to-11 system. That means that the team to get 11 points first wins the game. However, the winning team should maintain a 2-point gap to declare them winners. If the game has an 11-10 score, the game continues until the 2-point deficit emerges.

Meanwhile, tournaments apply the scoring of first-to-15 or 21, with the deuce included.

Double Bounce

Much like tennis, a bounce should occur first from the receiver’s court before returning the ball. The same thing should happen to the server side when returning the ball to the receivers. After the underlying two returns, no ricochets are obligatory. You may then return the ball with a groundstroke where the ball ricochets first or with a volley where no skip happens.


The game does not allow volleying inside the non-volley zone. The non-volley zone includes the 7-foot area around the net on both sides. A line separates the non-volley zone to the permitted area to volley to make it noticeable. To give the area a more specific term, players then called it the “kitchen.”

The reason why the game disallows volleying from the kitchen remains to prevent smashing from occurring. More specifically, it lets the player avoid an unstoppable smash to the net.

Entering the kitchen or even stepping the line when volleying will give the opposing team the point. However, even after the volley will still produce the same result since it is a fault. As long as the player does not volley the ball, the rule can permit him to enter the kitchen.

Line Calls

If the ball managed to hit the borderlines of the court, the referees would call it in. Therefore, the side that hit the ball will receive the point from the situation. However, serves have a different case. If the serve hits the line of the kitchen, it will not result in an in, but rather a “short.” The game considers a short as a fault, therefore causing the side to lose the serve. Not only that, but the opposing team also gains a point.


In pickleball, a lot of circumstances result in a fault. The list below provides the faults to avoid when playing pickleball.

If the ball did not hit the receiving court during the service, the point immediately goes to the receiver. However, as mentioned above, hitting the kitchen and its line falls under this circumstance.

If the ball hits the net, a fault gets counted. Whoever hit the ball receives the fault in the situation.

If the player hits the ball before a bounce occurs, a fault happens well.

If the player volleyed inside the kitchen the referee gives the fault to that side.

If the ball bounces twice on the court, the side where the situation happens receives the fault.

First Serve Of The Game

A coin toss dictates the principal service of the match. Whoever wins the coin toss will choose which side the player wants first, either receiver or the server.

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Wrapping Up

With all the rules for singles pickleball and the faults mentioned, play pickleball while being a rule-abiding player. Make sure not to get competitive every time you play casually. Aim to have fun while still aiming for improvement.