The History and Rules of Pickleball



Pickleball was invented during the summer of 1965 by three men who lived on a small island very close to Seattle, Washington. Joel Pritchard, William Bell and Barney McCallum were looking for a sport the whole family could play when they created Pickleball.

This game was named after Joel Pritchard's dog named Pickles. Pickles (the dog) became interested in the new game and would pick up any loose ball and disappear with it. Hence, the name "Pickle Ball." In the beginning the game was played on any hard surface such as backyard patios, driveways and on dead end streets. Since the mid 1970's formal rules have been developed. In 1972 a corporation was formed to protect the new game (Pickle-Ball, Inc.). The three-creators also formed the United States Pickle-Ball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) to govern and promote the sport. The game is now played in schools, recreational facilities and health clubs. Pickleball is still being played at family homes.

Pickleball is a net court game that is played by either two or four people. Doubles play with four people will be the most practical arrangement due to the number of students in physical education classes. The doubles badminton court on the gymnasium floor or on any hard, smooth outside surface can be converted to a pickleball court.

Simply attach a pickleball or badminton net to standards at a height of 3 feet. Light weight wooden paddles and the plastic "whiffle-like" ball help to produce exciting long rallies which consist of ground strokes and volleys at the net similar to tennis. 


  1.  The Court:  The net is hung 36" on ends and should be 34" at the middle.  When laying out courts, allow enough room at the ends and sides for player movement.
  2. The Serve:  Player must keep one foot behind the back line when serving.  The serve is made underhand.  The server must contact the ball in the air; it cannot be hit after a bounce. The service is made diagonally cross court and should land between the non-volley zone and the baseline.  Only one serve attempt is allowed, except if the ball touches the net on the serve and lands in the proper service court.  Then the serve may be taken over.  At the start of each game, the first serving team is allowed only one fault before giving up the serve to the opponents.  Thereafter, both members of each team will serve than default before the ball is turned over to the opposing team (in doubles).
  3.  A point is scored by the serving team when the receiving team (or player) makes a fault.
  4. When the serving team makes its first fault, players will stay on the same courts and turn the ball over to the other team.  Players switch courts only after scoring.
  5. Singles Play:  All rules apply with one exception; when serving in singles, each player serves from the right hand court when the score is 0 or an even number and from the left hand court when the score is odd numbered.
  6. Determining the Serving Team or Player:  Use a coin toss or rally the ball until a fault is made.  The winner has the option of serving first or receiving.
  7. Volley:  All volleying (hitting the ball before it bounces) must be done with player's feet behind the non-volley zone line.  It is a fault if the player steps over the line on the volley follow through.
  8. Double Bounce Rule:  Each team must play their first shot off the bounce.  That is, the receiving team must let the serve bounce and the serving team must let the return of serve bounce before playing it.
  9. Scoring:  A team may score a point only when serving.  A player who is serving shall continue to do so until a fault is made by his/her team.  The game is played to 11 points.  A team must win by 2 points.
  10. Fault:  It is a fault when:

  • Hitting a ball out of bounds.  A ball landing on the line is good;
  • The ball does not clear the net;
  • Stepping into the non-volley zone and volleying the ball;
  • Volleying the ball before it has bounced once on each side of the net.

Additional Rules

   a) The server may not serve until his opponent is ready, but the opponent shall be deemed "ready" if a return of serve is attempted.

   b) If a player is playing a ball that has bounced in the non-volley zone and she/he touches the net with the paddle or any part of the body, it will constitute a fault for that player.

   c) A service fault occurs when the server swings the paddle with the intent of striking the ball but misses.

   d) Only the player served to may receive the service, but if the ball touches or is hit by his/her partner, the serving side scores a point


1. If there is disagreement whether the ball was clearly in or out, play the point over.

2. Never walk behind a court (or enter one) while a rally is in progress.

3. When a point is over, return the ball to your opponent, not merely in his/her general direction.

4. If the opponent claims there was a major distraction while hitting a shot (such as a ball bouncing onto the court), don't hesitate to replay the point.

5. Verbal outbursts are -distracting to your opponent and to players on other courts.

6. Throwing equipment in anger is unsportsmanlike and dangerous. Control your temper on the court at all times.

7. Give your opponent time to get into position to return the ball before you serve. 

The Rules

TPC Rules and Regs

Rules And Operating Procedures

Rules And Operating Procedures

USAPA/IFP Official Rules


 USAPA/IFP Official Rules

Approved Paddles


TPC Approved Paddle List Patterned After Sun City Grand