Pickleball FAQ’s

Pickleball FAQ’s (Fequentley Asked Questions)

1.      What is pickleball?   I’ve never heard of it.

  •  Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the US.  WE like to say that pickleball is a combination of badminton ,tennis and ping pong.  It is played on a badminton sized court with a tennis height net (lowered to 34″ at the center), a hard paddle (wood or composite) slightly larger than a ping pong paddle and a perforated plastic ball (similar to a whiffle ball).  It is easy for beginners to learn but can develop into a quick, fast paced, competitive  game for experienced players.

2.      “Pickleball” is such a funny name?  How was it named?

  • Pickleball (at least one version) was named after the family cocker spaniel of one of the co-founders.  Pickles would chase stray balls and hide in the bushes.  So you see that it was “Pickle’s ball”.   The name stuck.  Here is a link to the  History of Pickleball.

3.      What age groups play pickleball?

  • Pickleball is a “lifetime sport”. There are players from 9-90 playing and having fun at all levels of play.

4.      Where can I find information about pickleball in Albany?

  • For information in Albany go to www.AlbanyPickleball.com, the home of the Albany Pickleball Club and the Rally In the Valley Pickleball Tournament.  There is general information and a blog.  For general information you can go the Albany Parks and Rec sports site at www.albanyparksandrecreation.org/sports and click on pickleball.

5.      I see there is a pickleball club. How do I find information about joining?

  • The Albany Pickleball Club is an Oregon incorporated, non-profit club. Go to www.AlbanyPickleball.com.   You will find information on the club, their projects, meeting dates and how to join and support pickleball in Albany.

6.      Where can I find out more information about pickleball in general?

  • Go to our USA Pickleball Association website at www.usapa.org for a vast amount of information from videos, to articles, to rules and how to join the USAPA.

7.      Where can I play pickleball?

  • In the summer we play outdoors at the newly renovated Eleanor Hackleman Park Pickleball Courts Mon/Wed/Fri 9-12, Tues/Thurs 6-8PM and Sat 1-4.  In the winter we play indoors at the Boys and Girls Club Mon/Wed/Fri 9-12 and Sun 4:30-7 PM.  See: https://albanypickleball.com/places-to-play/.

8.      How do know for sure when and where people are playing?

  • We are using the Google Doodle Calendar to show play times and for people to sign up to play.  You can bookmark and see the calendar at: http://doodle.com/xikmab2uxpbdxqq7#table.   The calendar gives players a way to check to see who and how many people are playing for a given day.  You do not need a Doodle profile, just enter your name and indicate the days you plan on playing.

9.      I have never played – where can I learn to play pickleball?

  • Drop-ins are welcome at any of our play times.  We are always glad to see new players and take time to teach you the basics of the game and get you started.  You will find our players eager to help and lots of fun.  We also have several demos throughout the year which are advertised in the paper and on our club site.  Watch out – the game gets addictive and you will get hooked!

10.      I don’t have any equipment – do I have to provide my own paddles and balls?

  • We have a variety of paddles and balls available for beginners, so all you need is some comfortable clothes and tennis shoes and a fun attitude.

11.      Ok, I still want to know more.  Is there a video that shows the game and how to play?

12.      Can I only play at the indicated times above?

  • Hackleman Pickleball courts have 4 permanent courts and nets so you can drop in and play anytime the courts are not otherwise in use. The Boys and Girls Club is only available for pickleball play at the specified times.

13.      Do I have to sign up for a league?

  • At this time we mostly have social play, meaning that whoever shows up plays, usually in a rotation of some kind if there are more players than courts.  We are considering starting league play in the future. When we have enough players we will sometimes split into higher and lower levels of players.

14.      Where do I find Pickleball rules?

15.  What is the Rally In The Valley Pickleball Tournament?

  • In 2013 the City of Albany and The Albany Pickleball Club will host the 2nd Annual Rally in the Valley Pickleball Tournament on August 16-18.  More information can be found at: https://albanypickleball.com/rally-in-the-valley/.  Tournaments are very popular in pickleball and provide an opportunity for players to compete at various skill levels from 2.5 (beginners) to 5.0 (experts).  It is fun to watch and fun to play.  Many lasting friendships have been made at tournaments across the country.

16.  Is there a cost to play?

  • There is no cost to play outdoors in the summer at the Hackleman Pickleball Courts.  There will be a minimal cost to play the Boys and Girls Club in the winter and cost is yet to be determined.

54 thoughts on “Pickleball FAQ’s

    • When serving, your partner can be anywhere on or off the court. In some cases, left handers will have their partner stand on the same side out of bounds near the kitchen when they are serving so they can step into the court after the serve and the server “slides” to the other side. Other times they stand beside the server, depending on the strategy. The only requirements are that the server and receiver be the correct player on the correct side. Hope that helps.

  1. Bob V…. your comment really helps. I was initially told to stand behind line on my side by receiver thinking this was the rule and could not find answer in Rules book. Recently someone told me this was incorrect. Thank you so much. 🙂

    • My advice to any newbie is to watch a good match. You will learn a lot and that will prepare you to play once you get started. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ve always maintained that someone telling you all the various rules and nuances of the sport will usually evaporate once you get on the court. Just go out and play with the basic rules and get your ‘feet wet’. Making mistakes and learning as you play is a better way to understand and remember the rules.
      It’ll stick better and longer until the ‘fog clears’. Enjoy, Cheers!

  2. As I understand it, the serve must be outside of the “kitchen” however, does the return on that serve need to clear the kitchen also?

    • No. The return of serve can land anywhere in the court, including the kitchen. Don’t forget the Double Bounce Rule where the serving team needs to let the ball bounce on the return of serve before playing it. Remember, that on the serve, the kitchen line is “in” so if the ball touches the line it is a fault.

  3. I’m Checking On interpretation of Rule 6.D.12.

    If the ball hits out and is called out by the “Partner Of The Player Returning The Ball” and the returner hits the ball (because the player is concentrating on the “Hit”) Is it correct that, regardless of that player returning the ball….Play stops, and the ball is deemed out because of the players partners line call?? In other words if the ball is out….is it out…. regardless of a players return (without being able to see if it’s in or out) or (even if the player could see the ball as out but can’t stop motion and or if the player chooses to hit the ball anyway even though they saw it was out?? thanks in advance for your response!

    • The short answer is yes. A player may, and probably should just in case, return a ball that their partner has called out after it has bounced. Play stops as this is a valid line call. If the “out” call was before the ball had bounced, it is considered partner communication and play continues if the ball was in. There is no “penalty” for returning the shot once called out by your partner. If the ball had actually landed in because you were watching the “hit” and you did not try to play it, you lose an opportunity to make the point or side out, etc.

  4. Hello,
    I recently watched, on my computer, a mixed doubles match, gold medal age 50+
    Hamner and Drake won the first two matches by large margins. There was a third match “Tie breaker” played to 15 win by two that there opponents won and were given the Gold medal. I sure don’t understand that rule. Would you kindly explain????

    • The bracket was a double elimination. That means that you need to lose 2 matches to be eliminated. I did not watch the match but Hammer and Drake came through the losers or consolation bracket to the Gold Medal match so they already had one loss. The other team in the winners bracket had no losses. So when Hammer/Drake won the first part of the gold medal match in 2 games the other team (from Winners Bracket) then only had one loss. So at that point both have only one loss and they must play the Tie Breaker, a 1-15 game, to see who gets the gold. Since the other team won it giving Hammer/Drake their 2nd loss, they received Silver. The Bracket Board would have been scored on the other team’s side as 2-11, 5-11, 15-10, for example. The Tie Breaker is treated as a 2nd match within the Gold Medal match and there is a new “coin toss” for who serves but is reported as 1 match for scoring.

  5. In all my years of playing various tournament sports….not pickleball, I do not understand this scoring rule even given the double elimination. Hammer/Drake won first 2 games of MATCH! At that point, they should have won the MATCH and no tie breaker is necessary. If it would be win/lose then a tie breaker would be proper. This, in my opinion, seems to be a very UNFAIR scoring rule. Please help understand why pickleball scoring for this double elimination rule is different? thank you

    • Double elimination is the key. At the point they started the match H/D (Hammer/Drake) had 1 loss and the other team was undefeated. When H/D won the 2 of 3 match then they were then tied with 1 loss each. So they absolutely needed to play a tie breaker to decide the winner. You could not give the match to H/D with both having 1 loss. In double elimination teams are systematically eliminated as they get 2 losses. And think of this, if this was not correct H/D would have contested it, right?
      Hope this helps?

      • Thank you for explaining. So are there 3 games to a match even if team gets 2 consecutive wins? As you nicely mentioned saying H/D did not contest so d I guess I need to get more serious about pickleball to better understand the rules. Sorry
        Again, I very much appreciate you taking time to help and explain my lack of understanding.
        Enjoy Pickleball!! :))

        • Hi Judy, no problem. Glad to explain. It is a great game! There are several ways a tournament can be structured, the most popular is a double elimination, each team in the winners bracket plays best 2 out of 3 games to 11 win by 2 points per match. There would be 3 games in the match if each team wins one then the 3rd is played. So if a team wins the first 2 they are the winners of the match. The winners continue in the winners side of the bracket playing other winners till they lose and drop into the losers bracket. The loser goes to the Losers bracket where all games are 1 game to 15, win by 2. If they lose that game they are eliminated. So a team gets to play at least 3 games. As long as they keep winning, teams continue to play losers that drop down out of the winners bracket until they finally play the undefeated team in the winners bracket. The teams in the loser’s bracket can play a lot of games depending on how big the bracket it. So they go into the gold medal match with one loss while the team in the winners bracket has no losses. Sine this is the last matchup of the tournament, if the team with no losses wins, they, of course, are the winner of the bracket. If the team coming through the losers bracket wins (by winning 2 out of 3 games), then they both have 1 loss and the tie breaker 1-15 game is played.
          So H/D came up through the losers bracket to the gold medal match, won the 2 out of 3 to force the tie breaker but the other team won the 1-15 to win the gold.
          There are other approved formats for tournaments such as 1 game to 21 but still have the same situation for double elimination. You can go to http://www.USAPA.org to find a find a huge amount of info about pickleball and tournaments.

  6. If you return a ball and it bounces back over the net to your side without the opponent hitting it, who wins the point?

    • It is your point. This is similar to any other shot which lands in play and is not touched by your opponent.
      If your opponent was able to touch the ball this is also of the few times when a player can break the plane of the net to hit the ball.

  7. What is the rule if both players go to hit a volley and 1 players paddle hits the ball and the other players paddle hits his partners paddle ( but not the ball) and comes out of his hand and hits the net. Is it a fault?

    • This is a tough one and I think the key here is hitting the net. Rule 12.H Distractions states “A player, or anything the player is wearing or carrying, may not cross the plane of the net (or the extension of the net beyond the posts) except when striking the ball.” Rule 7.E under Fault Rules states: A fault will be declared for the following: “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.” So there should be a fault called for the paddle hitting the net. On a side note, if the paddle fell into the kitchen, it would not be a fault as the rule applies to the person that hit the ball and not the partner.

  8. Are the following under Injury Time Out?
    Loose Contact in Eye?
    Loose Contact lost on court?
    Asthma attact on court?
    Also I would like to know if you have an appeal, you raise you hand AFTER the Rally and not during the rally? True ?

    • Interesting questions and, other than the appeal, not mentioned in the rules.
      Lost contact in eye. My opinion is this would be a medical situation so an injury timeout under 11.B would be appropriate.
      Lost contact on the court. I believe this would be the same as any other equipment issue so the Equipment Timeout rule under 11.C would be appropriate which means that a player is expected to use a regular timeout. The Referee can award an Equipment Timeout of 2 minutes if the team/team is out of timeouts if it is believed it is needed for “fair and safe continuation of the match”.

      Asthma attack I believe would be covered under the Injury Timeout as it is a medical condition caused by play. At lease usually.

      Appeal Rile 14.I.3: “A player wishing to signify an appeal during a
      rally may do so by raising his or her nonpaddle hand to inform the referee that an
      appeal is being made regarding a previous possible violation. Play will continue until the
      rally is over and appeal can then be made.” So this gives you a way to make an appeal during a Rally. You may also appeal after the rally is finished but raising your hand lets the referee take note of the timing of the appeal.

      Would be interested if there are any different takes on these by other folks.


    • I haven’t clocked it but the fastest smashes or kill shots I’ve heard are in the range of 100 to 120 mph at close quarters, like at net or the ‘kitchen area’ (non volley zone). You may want to check with the USAPA, the official governing body of Pickleball.
      They ought to have more accurate insight into this. G’luck!

  9. I would like to know if a ball comes from the server cross court, can his partner hit the ball back instead of the player lined up to return the serve? Is there a penalty for this?

    • Hi Larry,
      Only the designated receiver (based on who started the game in the even court and the current score) can return the serve or it is a fault and point for the serving team. Also, if the serve hits the incorrect receiver it is also a fault. Bob

  10. I have a kitchen violation question, which is also a “when does one play end and another begin?” question. I know that if I hit a ball (which has not bounced in the kitchen) and my momentum carries me into the kitchen, that is a fault. But what if I hit the ball, stay out of the kitchen momentarialy, my opponent returns the ball to my partner, and THEN I step into the kitchen? Is it still a fault, or did a new play start?

    • Yes, it is a fault because your shot has not finished till your momentum ceases. Your shot/play and the results (in or out of the kitchen when your momentum ceases) take precedence over a following shot or call. Rule 9.C states “…. It is a fault even if the
      ball is declared dead before the player touches the nonvolley zone.” Same would apply to another player’s shot as described.

  11. Aaaah, Pickleball! That’s one of the many positive responses I get from the general public when I mention it. The other one varies from, what ball? to I’ve never heard of it, what exactly is it? Yet the best way to explain this sport is to simply watch it and play it. Things somehow have a way of becoming clearer once you watch it. What follows are lots of interesting perspectives as to how each person interprets it. From ping pong on the floor to mini tennis type game played on a smaller (Badminton doubles court) using paddles and a whiffle type ball. The sport embraces everyone as is truly multi generational and can be lots of fun for families (which is why it started), friends, colleagues, total strangers coming together and on and on. It’s also very social and can be played both indoors and outdoors. The best leads and advice invariably come from other people you meet on the court. In terms of equipment, beat places to buy it, places to play and on and on. Forming groups to get together and play is a given.
    My advice is to give it a try and form your own opinion. Chances are it will reflect the feelings of most others who are hooked on it. The only warning: It can be addicting and consuming! Cheers!

  12. I was behind the service line. Waiting for the served. The serve was long and hit me outside of the back line. I was not in the court but behind the service line when the ball hit me. Since I was not in the court should they have taken the point ? I think if I was in the court they could have the point. But since I was not in the court the serve was obviously long. What is the rule on this.

    • If the serve hits you, or your partner, prior to hitting the court it is a fault. It does not matter if you were inside our outside the court. It would be the same as any other shot that hits you. There is a rule that talks directly to this on USAPA.org.

  13. Where should you stand if your partner is retrieving a deep lob – with him or up near the Kitchen?


    • That is especially tough because of the 40 players on 3 courts. This is one of the big issues facing venues with a minimal amount of courts and generates a huge amount of discussion. You could set up different times for advance play. We have set up one court as an advanced court after an hour or so of combined play but with this many players that would not work well. And your point about who is actually “advanced” is still an issue. In the end, if you do not address the situation your advanced players may find other places to play. Maybe that is ok with limited courts altho it may separate your club some. As you get larger, you will need to make some time for all of the skills if at all possible. Hope this helps some as it is an ongoing issue for most clubs.

  15. what happens when the ball is returned goes over the net bounce on the other side and bounce back over the next without anyone hitting it?

    • This does happen occasionally when the ball has enough spin and bounce to cause it to hit and then bounce back over the net. It is a fault for the side that received the return (2nd serve or side out) and a point if the side that hit the return was the serving side also. Think of it as any ball hit to your side and landing fair must be returned before it bounces twice. In this case the receiving side must touch the ball before it lands on the other side of the net. This is one of the only times that a player can reach across the net to hit the ball. If they hit the net it is a fault.

  16. My partner served the ball. The opponents missed the return. It was within the boundaries. But we were called as before my opponent served he called out the wrong score. We forfeited his serve and the point. I have been playing for four years and this has never happened before. People often do this and normally someone just corrects them. It was not a tournament, just a supposedly friendly game. We are seniors after all. What do you think.

    • Interesting situation. For social games, I agree that the score is usually corrected after the play and you move on – no fault. I see nothing in the rules about a fault because the wrong score is called.
      4.I.4. Wrong Score Called. If the referee calls the wrong score, any player may stop play at any time before the return of serve to ask for a
      correction. A player that interrupts play after the return of serve will have committed a faultand shall lose the rally. A player that interrupts play after the serve when there was not an error in the score will have committed a fault and shall lose the rally.
      Since the receiver or any of the other players did not stop the play prior to the return of serve, the fault is with the receiving team.

  17. 2 questions:
    If a return is in the air and clearly heading feet out of the return court and the return player calls out before it bounces /lands on the surface and it is acknowledged by all the ball was out before it landed is the call “out”? Does it have to bounce before an out call can be made–when clearly feet out of the court in flight. OR if player calls the ball out and hits it back in motion is it out. Does it have to bounce for an out call?

    Same question with this twist: ball is flying clearly out of the return court and return player calls it out and before ball hits the ground the return player hits the ball from out of court to the next server for service what is the call? does the ball have to bounce before the call out when the ball is heading feet out of court?
    does the return player have to let the ball land out then return it for next service?

    • The ball is technically not out till it lands outside of the court. If it is caught prior to bouncing out it is a fault. If it is hit prior to bouncing it is a live ball and play continues because the ball had not landed out. There is also “partner communication” in which you can call OUT to let your partner know the ball may be out. If the ball is indeed out, a 2nd call of OUT should be made. If out is called AFTER the bounce the ball is dead and the side wins that point, even if the ball is returned. (You should return close balls in case your partner does not call it out.) It is better to say “bounce it” or something to avoid confusion, but that is not required. You can see why it is important that players know not to catch or stop an out ball. Both sides need to know that if the ball is returned prior to the bounce play continues unless there is a 2nd out call, which stops play. And what if the ball is stopped and it would have been a close call? Have seen that many times in the wind which can really affect the ball. Better to let it bounce all the time. Sometimes an out call is made prior to bouncing, especially when it is clearly going to be out and is usually accepted if the ball is not hit or stopped prior to bouncing out. This is especially significant in a tournament with a ref who will call a fault. Again, best to practice following the rules closely. In social play sometimes folks will stop an out ball so they don’t have to chase it, but this is technically against the rules. Get into the habit if letting out balls land.
      If a player calls out prior to the ball bouncing and then hits it back it is a fault, even if they are returning the ball to the other side or to the next server. The ball must bounce to be out.

  18. We are arguing over the kitchen. One player says he can be in the kitchen when anyone (except himself of course) is serving. Others have us have a”rule sheet” showing server and partner have to be behind back line, receiver has to be behind line and receiver ‘s partner can be at kitchen line. Who is right?

    • So, there are the strict rules and best practices that come into play. The rules regarding Service (Section 4) and Sequence of Serve (Section 5) covers this. The is no restriction on where a player stands except the server, who must be behind the Service Line and within the Service Area. There is no restriction on where the others stand including the receiver except that the correct receiver must be the one to return the serve.
      This is where good strategy and best practices come in. If the receiver is way inside the end line and the service is long is will be more difficult to return serve so standing behind the line is best practice. Because of the double bounce rule, both players on the serving side should be behind the end line in case there is a long return. The non receiver should be at the non-volley line for best practices.
      Remember, anyone can be in the kitchen at any time and it is only a fault if they volley the ball while in there.

  19. We had a rally going and after about 3 shots per side we had the ball drop into our side of the kitchen the ball then bounced up over the net back to their side of the kitchen without any player touching the ball.
    Is the ball dead after 2 bounces one on our side and one on their side?
    We replayed the point.

    • You are technically correct in your statement. But there is more to it. If, as described above, it bounces in your kitchen and goes back over the net without you touching it the striking player wins the rally (the other team). You must strike/touch the ball and it must land in their court for you to win the rally.

      Rule 12.J.4: If a player hits the ball over the net into the opponent’s court, and then the ball bounces
      back over the net without being touched by the opponent, the striking player wins the rally.

      You can download the rules off the http://www.USAPA.org website.

  20. During a rally, the ball hits my paddle, then my partner’s paddle and then goes over the net. An opponent misses the ball. What would be the result?

  21. What is the penalty for serving into the opposing kitchen? I thought it was simply a server fault, and if server 1 was serving, the serve goes to server 2 on the same team. However, someone just told me that it was a “side out’, and the serving team lost the serve.

    • Hello Gary, You are correct. It is a side out only if the second server is serving. It is a fault and if server 1 is serving it goes to server 2. If server 2 is serving it is a side out. Whether it is a side out or not depends on which server is serving.

    • Hey Mike. It can be a little trouble searching the rules to find some of these sections. This one is located in section 11.E.

      11. E. Broken or Cracked Ball. Play continues until the end of the rally. Players may appeal to the referee to determine if a broken or cracked ball impacted the rally. If, in the judgment of the referee, a broken or cracked ball impacted the outcome of the rally, the referee will call for a replay with a replacement ball. In non-officiated sanctioned play, if the players do not agree, the rally stands as played.

    • Hi Drew, There is no fault if the ball strikes the paddle hand below the wrist.
      7.H. After the serve, the ball contacts a player or anything the
      player is wearing or carrying, except the paddle or the
      player’s hand(s) in contact with the paddle and below the
      wrist. If the player is in the process of changing hands with
      both hands on the paddle or is attempting a two-handed
      stroke and either hand is hit below the wrist, as long as the
      player’s hand(s) are in contact with the paddle, the ball is still
      in play.

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