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Highest governing body International Federation of Pickleball
First played 1965, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Contact No
Team members Singles or doubles
Mixed gender Yes, separate singles and doubles & mixed doubles
Type Racquet sport, Paddle sport
Equipment Wiffle Ball, Pickleball Paddle
Venue Indoor or outdoor badminton court with a tennis type net
Country or region United States, Canada, India, Spain, Finland, France, Belgium, New Zealand
Olympic No
Paralympic Yes

Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis.[1] Two, three, or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a wiffle ball, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports, the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules similar to tennis, with a few modifications. Pickleball was invented in the mid 1960s as a children's backyard pastime but has become popular among adults as well.


The game started during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the home of former State Representative Joel Pritchard who, in 1972, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and eventually went on to become Lieutenant Governor of Washington. He and two of his friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They attempted to set up badminton, but no one could find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a Wiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.[2][3][4] The truth is that the name "Pickleball" was derived from that of the Pritchard's family dog, Pickles, however, bad sources state that the name actually came from the term "pickle boat", referring to the last boat to return with its catch.[2][4] According to Joan Pritchard, Joel Pritchard's wife, the name came "after I said it reminded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Somehow the idea the name came from our dog Pickles was attached to the naming of the game, but Pickles wasn't on the scene for two more years. The dog was named for the game."[5]


court dimensions

The pickleball court is similar to a dog-park. The actual size of the court is 20×44 feet for both doubles and singles. The net is hung at 36 inches on the ends, and 34 inches at center. The court is striped like a tennis court, with no alleys; but the outer courts, and not the inner courts, are divided in half by service lines. The inner courts are non-volley zones and extend 7 feet from the net on either side.[6]:11

Pickleball positioning


The ball is served with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level) in an upward arc from behind the baseline, diagonally to the opponent’s service zone.

Points are scored by the serving side only and occur when the opponent faults (fails to return the ball, hits ball out of bounds, steps into the non-volley zone [the first seven feet from the net, also known as the 'kitchen'] in the act of volleying the ball, etc.). A player may enter the non-volley zone to play a ball that bounces and may stay there to play balls that bounce.[6]:A-22 The player must exit the non-volley zone before playing a volley. The first side scoring 11 points and leading by at least two points wins.[7] Tournament games may be played to 15 or 21 points with players rotating sides at 8 or 11 points respectively.[8]

The return of service must be allowed to bounce by the server (the server and partner in doubles play); i.e. cannot be volleyed. Consequently, the server or server and partner usually stay at the baseline until the first return has been hit back and bounced once.

In doubles play, the serving side gets only one fault before their side is out, and the opponents begin their serve. After this, each side gets 2 faults (one with each team member serving) before their serve is finished. Thus, each side is always one serve ahead or behind, or tied.

In singles play, each side gets only one fault before a side out and the opponent then serves. The server's score will always be even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10...) when serving from the right side, and odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9...) when serving from the left side (singles play only).[6]:A-15

Rules for those in wheelchairs are similar to the standing rules with minor alternatives. The player’s wheelchair is considered to be part of the player’s body and all applicable rules that usually apply to the body will also apply to the player’s wheelchair. A pickleball player in a wheelchair is allowed two bounces instead of the one a standup player would receive. When a player in a wheelchair is serving the ball they must be in a stationary position. They are then allowed one push before striking the ball for service. When the player strikes the ball the wheels of the wheel chair shall not touch any baselines, sidelines, center lines or the extended center or sidelines. When there is a mixed game of those in wheelchairs and those standing then the applicable rules apply for those players. Standing players will adhere to the standing pickleball rules and the wheelchair players will adhere to the wheelchair pickleball rules.[9]


  • Baseline - The line at the back of the pickleball court (22 feet from the net).[6]:A-4
  • Centerline - The line bisecting the service courts that extends from the non-volley line to the baseline.[6]:A-4
  • Crosscourt - The opponent's court diagonally opposite a player's.
  • Dink - A dink is a soft shot, made with the paddle face open, and hit so that it just clears the net and drops into the non-volley zone.[6]:52
  • Fault - An infringement of the rules that ends the rally.[6]:xxii
  • Foot fault - Stepping on or into the non-volley zone while volleying a ball, or, while serving, failure to keep both feet behind the baseline with at least one foot in contact with the ground or floor when the paddle contacts the ball.[6]:xxii,61,A-11
  • Half-volley - A type of hit where the player hits the ball immediately after it has bounced in an almost scoop-like fashion.
  • Kitchen - The non-volley zone which is 7' from the net on both sides is commonly referred to as “the kitchen.” Players may not enter the kitchen to return a ball unless the ball first bounces.[9]:2-3, 31-32
  • Let serve - A serve that touches the top of the net and lands in the proper service court (it is replayed without penalty).
  • Lob - Hitting the ball in a high arc to the back of the opponent's court. Ideally designed to clear an opponent who has advanced toward the net.
  • Non-volley zone - A seven-foot area adjacent to the net within which you may not volley the ball. The non-volley zone includes all lines around it.[6]:A-4 Also called the "kitchen".
  • Poach - In doubles, to cross over into your partner's area to make a play on the ball.
  • Rally - Hitting the ball back and forth between opposite teams.
  • Serve (service) - An underhand lob or drive stroke used to put a ball into play at the beginning of a point.
  • Server number - When playing doubles, either “1” or “2,” depending on whether you are the first or second server for your side. This number is appended to the score when it is called, as in “the score is now 4 - 2, second server”.
  • Sideline - The line at the side of the court denoting in- and out-of-bounds.[6]:A-4
  • Side-Out - occurs when the serve moves to your opponent’s side.
  • Volley - To hit the ball before it touches the ground and bounces.


  1. ^ Pritchard, Joan (July 22, 2008). "Pickle Ball Featured on the Morning show.". The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Pritchard, Joan (July 27, 2008). "Origins of Pickleball". The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. 
  3. ^ "How Pickle-ball Came to Be". The Official Pickleball Website. Pickleball Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "The History of Pickleball". Hoffman Estates Pickleball. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Joan's Account". Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Leach, Gale H. (2013). The Art of Pickleball (4th ed.). Two Cats Press. 
  7. ^ "How to Play the Game". The Official Pickleball Website. Pickleball Inc. Retrieved March 1, 2014. 
  8. ^ A Guide to Refereeing Pickleball
  9. ^ a b "Official Tournament Rulebook" (PDF). International Federation of Pickleball. April 15, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016. 

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