Setting the Basics Straight – Must Read for All Players

With the exploding growth of our wonderful game, it’s time to get a few basic things straight for all the new players (and some seasoned players as well). It is time to set the basics straight – a Must Read for all players. Please read and share with others.

  • Pickleball is played with a PADDLE! Not a racket … A racket has strings, paddles do not.
  • In doubles, there are three numbers used to indicate the score. No words, just numbers.
  • The Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) is the box by the net. It’s also called “the kitchen”.  No one knows where that nickname came from, but no matter what you call it, you can be in that area any time you want – unless you hit a volley.
  • A point is earned when the server’s side wins the rally. So, every exchange is a rally, which may or may not result in a point.  But it’s very common for the rally to be referred to as a point, whether a point was actually scored or not.  We know – it’s confusing!
  • For tennis players, there is no “ad” or “deuce” side of the court; a pickleball court has left and right sides. There also is no “set” played – only a game.
  • Please learn to spell our sport correctly! It is not capitalized (unless at the beginning of a sentence of course), it is not two words, does not have a hyphen – it is spelled “pickleball”. Got it? Please make sure all your written communications and social media accounts spell it correctly; the spelling gods thank you.
  • The plastic ball you play with is not the trademarked “WIFFLE ball”, it may look similar but it’s not. We only use pickleballs. It’s simply a plastic ball with holes in it.
  • Can you wear your running shoes to play? No! Running shoes are designed for only forward movement. Do yourself a favor and buy “court shoes” which are designed for movement in all four directions (left, right, forward and backwards) to get the support and balance you need.
  • Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the world – true! And it’s the most fun as well.

Welcome aboard!

♥ Alex Hamner and I had fun creating this list, in fact, we could probably go on and on and on.


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21 comments on “Setting the Basics Straight – Must Read for All Players”

  1. Hello Jennifer. Since pickleball are mostly played outdoors, changing sides should be done on every six points combined. For example, 3 for one and 3 for the other, 4 for one 2 for the other, 5 for one 1 for the other, or 6 for one 0 for the other. The change of sides would happen again for additional six points. In other words, changing sides be done similar to the tennis tiebreaker. The reason for adding this pickleball rules so no one player or team be in a disadvantage because of the sun and wind.

  2. Hi Jennifer & Alex- The Basics: “Never give up”. Congrats to Lea Jansen at the Orange Cty Classic Sunday. Down 1st 2 games to Anna Leigh then a 3 game comeback thriller!

  3. Hi Jennifer & Alex, I have submitted a few ‘what if’s’ on the 411 NVZ video site. Thought I had all covered after 3 years of reffing at our YMCA. One more occurred Saturday while I was the ref. Our top player was up at the K line and a volley was hit in the air just above his head. He had time to realize his left foot was just over the line and lifted front of foot up while his heel remained in the court of play after hitting a winning kill shot. I called a foot fault. Is this situation considered re-establishment?

    1. John, I don’t believe this is ‘re-establishment’ or a foot fault as you lifted the front of foot out of kitchen (off the line) when the volley was made and your heel of foot was onside all the time. As long as your toe didn’t come back down in the kitchen after the volley contact. I’m surprised that you would know that your toe was over the line, have the presence of mind to clearly lift it up off the kitchen line and then volley the ball all within a split second. This situation of volleying and not allowing your toe to touch the line is quite common but certainly not in the 3 distinct steps you described.

      1. Hi Roy–Copy & pasting: John, I don’t believe this is ‘re-establishment’ or a foot fault as you lifted the front of foot out of kitchen (off the line) when the volley was made and your heel of foot was onside all the time. As long as your toe didn’t come back down in the kitchen after the volley contact. Was looking for answer, but not found in your reply. Perhaps Alex may look at this if she still responds to ‘what if’s’ as she has done in the past. 🙂

        1. John, I thought I did answer your question; it is neither a ‘re-establishment’ nor a ‘foot fault’; the heel of foot had always been established and the toe did not come down on the line after the volley.

          Assuming I understood the situation correctly, this is my belief on the matter.

          Now if Alex or Jennifer disagree with my assessment, maybe they can explain?

  4. Thank you ladies! Sitting here watching the snow blowing outdoors, this read was like a ‘touch of spring’! Please do go “…on and on and on” with a followup in the future. Back to winter…haha!

  5. Hi Jennifer,
    Loved this Summary of the basics. We teach a lot of players the sport here in Dallas Texas.
    I usually send them a summary of rules and some safety pointers. From now they will get this summary of the basics, too.
    Great Job
    Mike Cooper
    Ambassador, Dallas, Texas

  6. Hi Jen,
    Great to hear from you! I was just looking at some pictures/videos … reminiscing … remember where we were in June 2016…?
    Many hugs n kisses,
    Ray (the 🇨🇦 from 🇩🇪😉)

  7. It’s not a wiffle but a pickle
    the ball that we all use
    so choose your words more wisely
    for to not our sport abuse
    one plays it with a paddle
    it’s not a racket that you choose
    and anyone who’s turned an ankle
    knows you don’t play in running shoes
    and call the score correctly
    as you play a game and not a set
    and stay out of the kitchen
    til it bounces or’ the net
    all in all, it’s quite simple
    so get out there and play
    take pride in knowing your sport
    is number 1 in growth today
    I love this sport I tell ya
    as if didn’t know
    so thank you Jen for enlighting us
    and now it’s time to go. Greg L

  8. In the next communique, you could share some wisdom on the different kinds of pickleballs available including those approved for sanctioned tourneys. Also, perhaps a word on the new no-let?

  9. I don’t know, I kind of like to use first and second when I’m calling the score. Sometimes people don’t talk very loud and the number at the end is thought to be part of the score.

    1. Melissa, I think they refer to the ‘transition zone’ differently when you actually stay in ‘no man’s land’; there’s a difference! Some players never move up to the line because they like ‘no man’s land’ sooo much!

  10. Hi Jen & Alex, Glad to be on this Blog site early. I watched your ‘Myths in Kitchen’ Oct.2017 shortly after playing. Also noticed the ‘NVZ’ video and began reffing at our YMCA. You both have answered some ‘what if’ questions not included in the videos. Thank you both for promoting the sport and some occasional commentary in tournaments! P.S. Thanks to Rusty also. “Go Play”!

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