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Learn To Play

Email CNYPickleball@gmail.com to get info about…

  • Group or Private Lessons – Weekly intros (free outdoors or with a small fee indoors) are posted on the main homepage!
  • Joining Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Leagues around the area
  • Becoming part of the community and getting involved with Syracuse area pickleball events and gatherings

One of the easiest sports to learn!

Rules of the Game

What is Pickleball?
A paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.

The Basics
1.  A fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Played with a paddle and a plastic ball.
2.  Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.

A Game for Everyone
The USAPA currently estimates there are now over 100,000 players actively playing pickleball.· Pickleball facilities are located in all 50 states.

Brief History
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, WA. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum -whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities are credited for creating game. Pickleball has evolved from original hand made equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada. The game is growing internationally as well with many European and Asian countries adding courts. 

The Court 
A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20×44 feet. In pickleball, the same court is used for both singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net (referred to as the “kitchen”). Courts can be constructed specifically for pickleball or they can be converted using existing tennis or badminton courts.

When playing pickleball, each player will need a pickleball paddle, which is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. Originally, paddles were made only from wood, however today’s paddles have evolved dramatically and are primarily made of lightweight composite materials,including aluminum and graphite. Players will also need a net and a pickleball. The ball itself is unique, with holes through it like a wiffleball and there are different ball models intended for indoor and outdoor play. The ball travels at 1/3 the speed of a tennis ball and is usually white or yellow in color. New bright color balls are also gaining in popularity.

Players wear just about anything comfortable… athletic shorts, sweatpants, polo shirts, t-shirts, etc. Tennis-style dresses and skirts for females are also common. Comfortable tennis shoes are also important. As for accessories, players may wear hats, visors, safety glasses, sweatbands and light jackets or sweatshirts for cold, outdoor play. Official USAPA logo apparel items are now

Rules Summary
The following is an abbreviated form of the rules to give a quick overview of how the game is played. A complete copy of the official rules can be found on the USAPA website at usapa.org. If there is a conflict between this summary and the official rules, the official rules prevail.

Basic Rules Overview
• Pickleball is played either as doubles (two players per team) or singles; doubles is most common• The same size playing area and rules are used for both singles and doublesThe Serve

• The serve must be made underhand.• Paddle contact with the ball must be below the server’s waist (navel level).

• The serve is initiated with at least one foot behind the baseline; neither foot may contact the baseline or court until after the ball is struck

.• The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court.

• Only one serve attempt is allowed.

Service Sequence

• Both players on the serving doubles team have the opportunity to serve and score points until they commit a fault *(except for the first service sequence of each new game)

.• The first serve of each side-out is made from the right-hand court

.• If a point is scored, the server switches sides and the server initiates the next serve from the left-hand court.

• As subsequent points are scored, the server continues switching back and forth until a fault is committed and the first server loses the serve.

• When the first server loses the serve the partner then serves from their correct side of the court (except for the first service sequence of the game*).

• The second server continues serving until his team commits a fault and loses the serve to the opposing team.

• Once the service goes to the opposition (at side out), the first serve is from the right-hand court and both players on that team have the opportunity to serve and score points until their team commits two faults.

• In singles the server serves from the right-hand court when his or her score is even and from the left when the score is odd.*At the beginning of each new game only one partner on the serving team has the opportunity to serve before faulting, after which the service passes to the receiving team.

• Points are scored only by the serving team.

• Games are normally played to 11 points, win by 2.

• Tournament games may be to 15 or 21, win by 2.

• When the serving team’s score is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) the player who was the first server in the game for that team will be in the right-side court when serving or receiving; when odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) that player will be in the left-side court when serving or receiving.

Double-Bounce Rule

• When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning, and then the serving team must let it bounce before returning, thus two bounces.

• After the ball has bounced once in each team’s court, both teams may either volley the ball (hit the ball before it bounces) or play it off a bounce (ground stroke).

• The double bounce rule eliminates the serve and volley advantage and extends rallies.

Non-Volley Zone

• The non-volley zone is the court area within 7 feet on both sides of the net.

• Volleying is prohibited within the non-volley zone. This rule prevents players from executing smashes from a position within the zone.

• It is a fault if, when volleying a ball, the player steps on the non-volley zone, including the line and/or when the player’s momentum causes them or anything they are wearing or carrying to touch the non-volley zone including the associated lines.

• It is a fault if, after volleying, a player is carried by momentum into or touches the non-volley zone, even if the volleyed ball is declared dead before this happens.

• A player may legally be in the non-volley zone any time other than when volleying a ball.

• The non-volley zone is commonly referred to as “the kitchen.”

Line Calls

• A ball contacting any line, except the non-volley zone line on a serve, is considered “in.”

• A serve contacting the non-volley zone line is short and a fault.


• A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation.

• A fault by the receiving team results in a point for the serving team.

• A fault by the serving team results in the server’s loss of serve or side out.

• A fault occurs when:

A serve does not land within the confines of the receiving court.

The ball is hit into the net on the serve or any return

The ball is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side

The ball is hit out of bounds

A ball is volleyed from the non-volley zone

A ball bounces twice before being struck by the receiver

A player, player’s clothing, or any part of a player’s paddle touches the net or the net post when the ball is in play

There is a violation of a service rule

A ball in play strikes a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying

A ball in play strikes any permanent object before bouncing on the court

Determining Serving Team
• Players use a coin toss to determine who will serve first. The winner of the coin toss will have the option to choose side or to serve or receive.