How To Play Pickleball – spin-it

How To Play Pickleball

If you’ve never played pickleball, now is the perfect time to start. It’s a fun, fast-paced game that millions of players worldwide have fallen in love with. And what’s not to love? It’s a fantastic way to work up a sweat and have a great time doing it. Plus, it’s easy to play. 

Contrary to what you might have heard, pickleball rules are relatively simple compared to other racquet sports like tennis. What’s more, while it's easy to learn the basics, pickleball offers strategic possibilities and room for improvement, so you have plenty to look forward to as your skills improve and you start seeking competitive matches. 

This guide will teach you how to play pickleball, covering everything from the equipment you need to serving rules in pickleball. So, let's dive in and get started!

Equipment You Need

Unlike many other sports, you don’t need a lot of gear to start playing pickleball. All you need are the following essentials: 

Before you hit the court, make sure you have the following pickleball essentials:


Pickleball paddles are available in various materials, including wood, composite, and graphite. For beginners, starting with a lightweight paddle made of graphite or composite material is best. These materials provide better control and are easier on your arm.


Pickleball balls are made from durable plastic with several holes to help the ball fly through the air. There are two types: indoor and outdoor. Make sure you have the right ball for your playing environment.


Pickleball can be played on any hard, level surface, such as a tennis court, badminton court, or dedicated pickleball court.


Pickleball nets are 22 feet wide and 36 inches high at the sidelines, dropping to 34 inches in the center. If there isn’t a dedicated pickleball court near you, consider investing in a portable net. This type of net is typically lightweight and easy to assemble, making it a convenient option for impromptu pickleball games with friends and family.


Many major athletic shoe brands offer pickleball-specific sneakers. You can also use tennis shoes or any trainer that provides good support, cushioning, breathability, and traction on court surfaces. Avoid playing in running shoes because they don’t offer the lateral support you need for the quick movements made in pickleball. 

Comfortable Clothes 

Ideally, you should wear moisture-wicking clothing to keep you feeling comfortable and dry even when playing for long periods. If you plan on playing pickleball outdoors, invest in athletic apparel that provides sun protection, such as the UPF 50+-rated pieces we offer at Spin-it. 

Also, your clothes must allow you to move freely—you wouldn’t want to wear anything that restricts your movement. Performance apparel made from comfort-stretch fabrics is an excellent choice. 

People To Play With

Pickleball can be enjoyed by both singles and doubles players. But if you don’t have friends or family who play pickleball, you can find potential partners and opponents on various apps. For instance, you can search for “pickleball” in the Meetup app, which will pull up recreational groups in your area. 

Learning the Court Layout 

A standard pickleball court measures 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, with markings for both singles and doubles play. It's the same size as a doubles badminton court and can easily fit in an existing tennis court.

Understanding the layout of the pickleball court is essential to learning the game. Here's a breakdown of the court sections you should know:

Serve Zones

The court is divided into two serve zones by a centerline running along the width of the court. Each serve zone is further broken down into left and right service areas, separated by the centerline. The serving player must aim to land their serve within the diagonal service area on the opposite side of the court.

Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) or Kitchen

The area directly in front of either side of the net, extending 7 feet back, is called the Non-Volley Zone, also known as the "kitchen." Players cannot hit a volley (a shot in the air before it bounces) within this area. The NVZ is a critical element of pickleball strategy, as it prevents players from overpowering their opponents at the net.

The Basic Rules of Pickleball

Now that you understand the court layout, it's time to dive into the sport's basic rules. Here's what you need to know to learn how to play pickleball:

Pickleball Shot Rules

Volley vs. Groundstroke

As mentioned, a volley is a shot that is hit out of the air before the ball bounces on the court. It requires swift movement and anticipation. However, volleys aren't allowed within the NVZ. 

On the other hand, a groundstroke is a shot where the player lets the ball bounce on the court surface before hitting it toward the opponent. Groundstrokes are permitted anywhere on the court.


Dinking is a soft shot you can execute from the NVZ, intended to land in the opponent's kitchen. It's a strategic shot to force the opponent to move or disrupt their position.

Mastering dinking can significantly improve your pickleball game as it helps control the game's pace. It also plays a role in limiting your opponents' opportunities to execute powerful shots.

Pickleball Serving Rules

Here are some basic pickleball serve rules that you’ll need to know to play a game confidently: 

  • The server must start on the right side of the court, serving diagonally across to the opposite service area.
  • The server's feet must not touch the court's baseline or the area outside the court at any point during the serve.
  • The serve must be underhand with a "low-to-high" motion, meaning the paddle's point of contact with the ball must be below the waist.
  • The ball must clear the NVZ, landing within the service area on the opposite side of the court.

The Double-Bounce Rule

Both the serve and the service return must be allowed to bounce once before being played. For instance, your opponent serves the ball. You must let it hit the ground and bounce once before you can return it. Meanwhile, if you serve the ball, you must let it bounce one before you hit it to the other side of the court. 

This can be a confusing rule for beginners, but with practice, following the “double-bounce” rule will come naturally. 

Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen) Rules

Violating the NVZ rules results in a fault. Depending on the situation, this means the opposing team will either get the point or the serve. 

Here are some things you can’t do within the NVZ:

  • Players cannot hit a volley (a shot before the ball bounces) while standing within the NVZ.
  • A player may enter the NVZ to play a ball that has bounced but must exit the zone before making a volley.
  • Even if you make a volley outside the NVZ, if momentum carries you inside, it will result in a fault. 
  • Do not make a volley while touching anything or anyone in contact with or within the NVZ, such as your partner.
  • Do not drop your paddle or anything on your person, such as your hat or sunglasses, into the NVZ while making a volley. 

Scoring and Winning

In pickleball, scoring is tied to the serve. A team can only win points when they are serving. The team that's serving continues to do so until they commit a fault or lose a rally. After winning a point on their serve, the team switches sides with their partner (in doubles play) and starts serving to the other diagonal opponent.

Games are typically played to 11 points but can also be played up to 15 or 21 points, depending on preference. Either way, a team must win by at least a 2-point margin.

When a serve is won, the serving team's score will be called out first, followed by the receiving team's score.

Gear Up and Get Your Pickleball Game On

Now that you know the basics of pickleball, the next step is to actually play a game. As they say, experience is the best teacher, and practice makes perfect! In no time, you'll be strategizing like a pro, refining your volleys and feeling the thrill of competition.

But before you hit the court, make sure you're outfitted for comfort and performance. Spin-it pickleball apparel combines functionality and aesthetics, with stylish core pieces and essentials designed to allow freedom of movement, provide sun protection as well as keep you cool and dry. 

Explore our collections today!