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Modified Basic Pickleball Rules

Modified Basic Pickleball Rules

Pickleball is a popular sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It can be played both indoors and outdoors on a court that resembles a smaller version of a tennis court. The game is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes, and it is suitable for players of all ages and skill levels.

In this article, we will explore the modified basic rules of pickleball that will help you understand the game better and improve your playing skills.

Equipment Needed

Before diving into the rules, let's quickly go through the equipment required to play pickleball:

1. Paddle: Pickleball paddles are usually made of wood, composite materials, or graphite. They are solid-faced and have a handle similar to a tennis racket but smaller in size. The choice of paddle material can affect the player's performance due to differences in weight, power, and control. Wood paddles tend to be heavier and provide more power, while composite and graphite paddles are lighter and offer better control.

2. Ball: Pickleballs are made of plastic and have holes all over them, which help reduce their speed and allow for more control during gameplay. They come in various colors, but the most commonly used ones are yellow with smaller holes and are slightly softer than regular plastic balls. The size and weight of the ball are regulated to ensure consistency and fairness during play.

3. Court: A pickleball court measures 20 feet wide and 44 feet long for doubles play, while singles play utilizes a smaller court width of 17 feet. The court is divided into two halves by a net that stands at 36 inches in the middle. The court surface can vary, but it is typically made of concrete or a similar hard material to provide a consistent playing surface. The court also includes specific zones, such as the non-volley zone (NVZ) or "kitchen," which has a seven-foot area on both sides of the net. Understanding the dimensions and layout of the court is crucial for positioning and strategy during gameplay.

Basic Rules

Now that we have our equipment set up, let's take a look at the modified basic rules of pickleball:


Serving is the starting point of each pickleball game and plays a crucial role in gaining an advantage. Here are the key rules to remember:

1. The game begins with an underhand serve. Unlike in tennis, where overhand serves are common, pickleball requires players to serve underhand. This technique ensures that serves stay low and are easier to return, promoting longer rallies and more engaging gameplay. The server must keep one foot behind the baseline and make contact with the ball below the waist. This rule prevents powerful serves and encourages more strategy and finesse.

2. The serve must travel diagonally across the court and clear the non-volley zone (NVZ), also known as the kitchen. The NVZ is a seven-foot area on both sides of the net where players are not allowed to hit volleys. By forcing the serve to clear the NVZ, the rules prevent players from gaining an unfair advantage by hitting powerful, close-to-the-net serves that are difficult to return.

3. The server continues serving until the ball is faulted. In doubles play, the serve rotates between the two teams, with each player on the serving team taking turns serving. After each fault, the server switches sides, allowing both teams to have an equal opportunity to serve and score points. This rotation ensures fairness and keeps the game dynamic.


Understanding the scoring system in pickleball is essential to keep track of points and determine the winner. Here are the key rules for scoring:

1. Pickleball is played in a best-of-three-games format, with each game played to 11 points. However, the winning team must win by at least two points. This rule ensures that games are competitive and prevents matches from dragging on indefinitely.

2. Only the serving team can score points. If the receiving team wins a rally, they gain the serve but do not earn a point. This rule creates an incentive for both teams to play aggressively and strategically to win the serve and the opportunity to score. It also promotes longer rallies and exciting gameplay.

3. To start a game, the serving team gets to choose which side they want to serve from. The receiving team then decides which player will receive the serve. This decision-making process allows teams to strategize and choose positions that best suit their playing style and strengths. Choosing the right side and player can provide a slight advantage at the beginning of each game.


Volleying is a crucial aspect of pickleball that allows players to hit the ball in the air without letting it bounce. Here are the key rules for volleying:

1. Volleying refers to hitting the ball in the air without letting it bounce. However, volleys cannot be made while standing inside the NVZ. The NVZ, also known as the kitchen, is a seven-foot area on both sides of the net. This rule prevents players from gaining an unfair advantage by hitting volleys too close to the net, making it challenging for the opponent to return the ball.

2. Players are allowed to enter the NVZ to play a volley as long as they exit it immediately after making the shot. This rule allows players to strategically position themselves closer to the net for volleys without creating an unfair advantage. It requires players to have good footwork and control to move in and out of the NVZ effectively.

3. If a player volleys the ball while their feet are inside the NVZ, it results in a fault, and the opposing team earns a point. This rule encourages players to respect the NVZ boundaries and promotes fair play. It also adds an extra layer of strategy, as players need to be mindful of their positioning to avoid faults.

Double Bounce Rule

The double bounce rule is a unique feature of pickleball that ensures equal opportunities for both teams to return the ball. Here are the key rules for the double bounce rule:

1. The double bounce rule ensures that each team has an equal opportunity to return the ball. When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning it. Likewise, the serving team must let the returning shot bounce before hitting it back. This rule promotes longer rallies and allows players to showcase their skills in returning shots that have bounced.

2. After the ball has bounced on both sides, the players are free to volley or play groundstrokes. The double bounce rule only applies to the initial return shots after the serve. Once the ball has bounced on each side, players can choose to volley the ball or play groundstrokes from the baseline. This rule adds variety to the gameplay and allows players to showcase different techniques and strategies.

Faults and Out-of-Bounds

Understanding the faults and out-of-bounds rules is crucial to maintain fair play and avoid penalties. Here are the key rules for faults and out-of-bounds:

1. The following situations result in a fault:

  - Failure to serve the ball diagonally across the court and clear the NVZ. This rule ensures that serves are fair and prevents players from gaining an unfair advantage by hitting powerful serves close to the net.
  - Stepping on or into the NVZ while volleying. By prohibiting players from volleying while standing inside the NVZ, this rule promotes fair play and prevents players from dominating the game with close-to-the-net volleys.
  - Hitting the ball out-of-bounds, such as hitting it over the fence or outside the court lines. Out-of-bounds shots are considered faults and result in the opposing team gaining a point and the serve. This rule encourages players to aim for accuracy and control in their shots.

2. Faults result in the opposing team gaining a point and the serve. This penalty ensures that players adhere to the rules and encourages fair play. It also allows teams to gain an advantage by capitalizing on their opponent's faults.


Pickleball is a fun and exciting game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. Understanding the modified basic rules of the game is essential to play it effectively and have a great time on the court.

Remember to always follow the proper serving techniques, respect the NVZ boundaries, and play fair. With practice and adherence to the rules, you'll soon master the game of pickleball and have a blast playing it with friends, family, or in competitive settings. Enjoy the game and have fun!

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