The game of Pickleball was developed so that all members of a family could participate so the rules were kept simple. Many of the rules are an adaptation from tennis, ping pong and volley ball.
Here are the key rules that beginning players need to know.
The Non-Volley Zone is a rectangle that is 7' X 20 feet on both sides of the net. Since Pickleball was designed as a family game this area was put in place so that a player has to stay back from the net when hitting the ball in the air. Thus, cutting down on the number of smashes and possible injury to an opposing player. This also helps make for longer rallies.
This is one of the most difficult rules for players to get used to especially tennis players. You can not step on the NV-line or into the NV-Zone when making a volley shot, a shot in the air. Your forward momentum cannot take you into the NV-zone after you hit the ball even if it is missed on the other side. No article of clothing, jewelry or paddle can fall into the zone on a volley or it is a fault. Your hat or paddle falling in is considered a fault.
Key points: This only applies when you are volleying or hitting the ball in the air. You can step in after making a ground stroke. You can go into the NV-zone to get a ball that bounces in there first. You can stand in the NV-zone all day if you want, you just can not play the ball in the air. It is a fault if you step in even after the ball is missed or hit by the opponents.
It may help to tell beginners that this rule was introduced to prevent players from going to the net and smashing it at their opponents as in tennis. It is safer and longer rallies result because there are fewer "put aways' standing 7' back from the net.
To start the game, teams may decide to rally for serve playing the ball three times over the net before it is in play. Often, one team just decides to start. The team serving first gets only one serve their first time. This rule helps prevent “blow” out games with one team getting a large number of points to start. The server making the first serve should announce 0, 0, 2. The score is 0, 0, and because the team gets only one serve, the server is number 2. When the serve switches to the other side that team gets two serves and play continues that way until a score of 11 is reached.
In review from the first session, the server must serve underhand making contact with the ball below the waist. The top of the paddle face must be below the wrist and the server must have both feet behind the service line at the time of contact with the ball. The ball must be served to the diagonally opposite court and it must be clearly in the service area. The ball cannot hit any part of the non-volley zone including the non-volley line. A serve that hits the net but lands in the service area is called a “let” and is reserved. Before serving the ball, the server should make sure all players are ready. Take a minute to check to make sure your partner is ready and that the opposing team is ready.
If you are receiving the serve but you or your partner are not ready, hold up your hand or paddle. If the server serves to you anyway, do not swing at the ball and call for a “let” serve because you were not ready. Returning the ball indicates you were ready and the point stands.
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