tennis coaching : tennis fitness : tennis performance

getting in a pickle

The basics of pickle are quite straight forward. Some things are similar to tennis and padel - even table tennis. When we get to the scoring, it can get a little confusing. .  but one step at a time, right? 


Many pickleball matches are played as doubles, so as you'd expect, there are two players on either side. Player One (1) and Player Two (2).  


To start a game the server has to be behind the baseline.  

Player One (1) serves underarm from the right side of the court to the opposite diagonal service box. 

The serve must be below the waist. A serve can be a volley serve (no bounce before contact) or choose to do a drop serve (bounce the ball behind the baseline before contact). It has to clear the "kitchen" and land inside the opposite service box to be valid. 

The receiving side has to let the ball bounce before it can be returned, but they can then advance toward the "kitchen" once they have played their return. 

Once the serve has landed in the correct part of the court, both serving players would do well to remain around the baseline because (IMPORTANT POINT) the serving side has to let the ball bounce before they can play their second shot and advance toward the "kitchen".

It is only from the third ball that the ball can be volleyed. (clearly. you can still let the ball bounce if you like). 

By this time both teams will normally have advanced to the "kitchen" or the "no volley zone" in front of the net. Here is where the majority of points are won and lost. 

You are only allowed to step into the "kitchen" if you are playing a ball that has bounced (or a "dink"). You can then "dink it" back over the net to the opposite side aiming to challenge your opponent. 

Your feet are not allowed in the "kitchen" if you are volleying the ball. Hence this is also called the non volley zone! If you do this you lose the point. 


Points can only be scored by the serving side if the receiving side does not return the ball, hits the ball out, does not let the serve ball bounce, volleys in the non-volley zone, or is hit by the ball. 

IMPORTANT POINT: When a point is scored by the serving team, that same person serves until they lose a point*; alternating sides after each point (as in tennis) When Player One loses a point, Player Two now serves, but from the side of the court where they are standing at that point. 


For the first service game, only Player One serves (but referred to as Second Server) Once the point is lost, Player One on the opposing side starts to serve. Then the above normal rules apply from there on in. . .

If Player Two serves and fails to score, service goes to the opponents and the opponent begins the service on the right

Scores are called out before each serve in FULL!! The format is as follows: 

0 - 0 - 1 

The score of team one is zero, the score of team two is zero and the server is Player One. 

If the serving team loses their point and its midway through a game (after the first service game is done), then it will be : 

0 - 0 - 2

The score of team one is zero, the score of team two is zero and the server is now Player Two. 

Lets now say that the serving team wins a point - you all celebrate and the score is now : 

1 - 0 - 2

Team one has one point, team two has zero and it's still Player Two serving!!! 

The game ends when one of the parties gets 11 points, with a 2-point lead.

It's as easy as that really! :-) 

The Official Rules can be found HERE. These are for official matches, so are quite complex. 


Much simpler!! When playing singles, the player serves from the left if he or she has an uneven number of points, and from the right with an even number of points. This is how scoring is kept: 1-0-1 means that the serving side has 1 point, the other side has no points, and this is the first server.