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Basic Fundamentals: How to Play Pickleball Step by Step

Basic Fundamentals: How to Play Pickleball Step by Step

Pickleball is a fun and exciting sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It is a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. If you are new to pickleball and want to learn how to play, this article will provide you with a step-by-step guide to get started. So, grab your paddle and let's dive into the basic fundamentals of pickleball!

Equipment Needed

Before we delve into the rules and techniques of pickleball, let's first ensure that you have the necessary equipment. Here's what you'll need to get started:

1. Pickleball Paddle: A specialized paddle designed for pickleball. It is usually made of lightweight materials such as graphite or composite. The paddle's weight, grip, and shape can affect your gameplay, so it's essential to choose one that suits your preferences and playing style.

2. Pickleball: Similar to a wiffle ball, but slightly smaller and with holes in it. These can be purchased at most sporting goods stores or online. The ball's construction and material can impact its flight and bounce, so consider trying different balls to find the one that feels comfortable to you.

3. Pickleball Court: You will need access to a pickleball court, which is often the same size as a badminton court. Many community centers and recreational facilities have dedicated pickleball courts. If you don't have access to a designated court, you can set up a makeshift court in your driveway or backyard using tape or chalk to mark the boundaries.

Setting Up the Court

To set up the pickleball court, you'll need to follow these steps:

1. Identify the Court: Locate a suitable pickleball court in your area. These courts are often marked with lines and have a net in the center. Make sure the court is clean and free from any obstacles that may hinder gameplay.

2. Divide the Court: If you're playing doubles, divide the court into two equal halves using the centerline. This line will separate the two teams. If you're playing singles, the entire court is used, and there is no need to divide it.

3. Net Height: Adjust the net to a height of 34 inches at the center. This height provides a fair and challenging net clearance for players. Ensure that the net is securely fastened and properly tensioned to maintain its position during gameplay.

4. Court Boundaries: Make sure to familiarize yourself with the boundaries of the court. The court's sidelines are determined by the outermost lines, and the non-volley zone is an area that extends 7 feet on both sides of the net. These boundaries define the playable area and help players make accurate judgments during the game.

Rules of Pickleball

Now that you have your equipment, and the court is set up let's dive into the rules of the game. Here are the basic rules of pickleball:

1. Serving: The serve is a crucial part of pickleball and must be made underhand and diagonally cross-court. The server must keep both feet behind the baseline while serving and strike the ball below the waist. The serve must clear the non-volley zone and land within the opposite diagonal court. It's important to practice your serves to ensure consistency and placement, as a well-executed serve can put you at an advantage right from the start.

2. Double Bounce Rule: After the serve, each team must allow the ball to bounce once on each side before hitting it in the air. This applies to both the serve and the return of serve. The double bounce rule promotes longer rallies and strategic shot placements, as players must be patient and wait for the ball to bounce before attempting a volley.

3. Non-Volley Zone: The non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen, is a 7-foot area on both sides of the net. Players are not allowed to hit the ball in the air while standing inside this zone. However, they can play volleys if they step outside the zone. This rule prevents players from smashing or spiking the ball close to the net, encouraging more controlled shots and emphasizing placement and finesse.

4. Scoring: Pickleball is played using a rally scoring system, which means that a point is awarded on every serve. Games are typically played to 11 points, and you must win by a margin of two points. When serving, you can only score points. If you lose the rally, the opposing team gets the opportunity to serve and score. This scoring system keeps the game fast-paced and highly competitive.

Basic Techniques and Strategies

Now that you are familiar with the rules of pickleball let's discuss some basic techniques and strategies to improve your gameplay:

1. Grip: Hold the pickleball paddle with a firm but relaxed grip. The most common grip is the continental grip, where the paddle handle rests diagonally across the palm with the thumb on the backside. Experiment with different grips to find the one that provides you with the most control and comfort.

2. Serve: Practice your serves to ensure accuracy and consistency. Experiment with different serving techniques, such as the lob serve, drive serve, or the dink serve, to keep your opponents guessing. Varying your serves will make it harder for your opponents to anticipate your shots and give you an advantage in dictating the pace of the game.

3. Dinking: The dink is a soft shot that is used to keep the ball low and close to the net. It requires delicate touch and control. Mastering the dink will allow you to place the ball precisely and force your opponents into difficult positions. Practice different dinking techniques, such as the cross-court dink or the drop shot, to add versatility to your game.

4. *Volleys: When playing near the net, practice your volleys to improve your reflexes and reaction time. Aim to hit the ball before it bounces, keeping your opponents on the defensive. Work on your footwork and positioning to be in the right place at the right time for effective volleys. Incorporate volleys into your practice sessions to develop consistency and accuracy.

5. Communication: Maintain good communication with your partner during doubles play. Coordinate your movements, call shots, and be aware of each other's positioning on the court. Effective communication can help you anticipate your partner's actions and react accordingly, leading to better teamwork and increased chances of winning points.


Pickleball is a fantastic sport that offers a unique combination of fun, strategy, and exercise. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you should now have a solid understanding of the basic fundamentals of playing pickleball. Remember to practice regularly, have fun, and embrace the competitive spirit of the game. So, grab a friend or head to your local pickleball court, and enjoy the exciting journey of playing pickleball!


1. What equipment do I need to play pickleball?
  - You will need a pickleball paddle, pickleball balls, and access to a pickleball court.
2. *How do I set up a pickleball court?*
  - To set up a pickleball court, you need to identify a suitable court, divide the court into halves for doubles play, adjust the net to a height of 34 inches, and familiarize yourself with the court boundaries.
3. What are the basic rules of pickleball?
  - The serve must be made underhand and diagonally cross-court, both teams must allow the ball to bounce once on each side before hitting it in the air, players are not allowed to hit the ball in the air while standing inside the non-volley zone, and pickleball is played using a rally scoring system.
4. What are some basic techniques and strategies in pickleball?
  - Hold the paddle with a firm but relaxed grip, practice different serving techniques, master the dink shot, work on volleys near the net, and maintain good communication with your partner during doubles play.