Pickleball Terms & Definitions

Pickleball Terms & Definitions – You Need to Know

Pickleball is one of those sports that seems to be growing in popularity each year. With more people joining in on the fun and sport, it’s only natural that pickleball terms get added into the mix. Learning these terms will not only help you understand how the game works, but they can also help you better understand others and improve your play. There are numerous Pickleball Terms you should know. As we go more into detail, we’ll cover all of the pickleball terms.

Gameplay Terms

You’ll come across various terms while playing. These include shots, strokes, and rules. Knowing these will improve your game.

To get started with pickleball, here are some of the basic terms you should know.

Ace: Ace is a powerful service that is unreturnable by your opponent.

Backhand: A backhand stroke is executed on your non-dominant side. The backhand hit is when the back of your hand is facing the net as you hit the ball.

Cross-Court: A cross-court hit is when the ball is hit diagonally across the net to the other side.

Dead Ball: Once a fault has occurred, the ball is considered dead.

Dink Shot: A dink shot is a controlled shot that is meant to go down shortly after it is hit over the net, landing in the no-volley zone.

You should consider adding this slow-moving shot to your game, as it can be a very effective weapon.

Gameplay Terms

Double-Bounce Rule: The double-bounce rule requires that the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning it, and then the serving team must let it bounce once before returning it. This results in two bounces.

Double Bounce: A double bounce occurs when the ball bounces twice on one side of the court. This is considered a fault.

Double Hit: A double hit occurs when the ball hits a player’s paddle twice in succession before going over the net. If the double hit is the result of one continuous motion (meaning, without a second swing or push), it is legally permissible.

Drop Shot: A soft and delicate shot that can be executed from anywhere on the court, but is most often done from around the baseline, goes over the net, and lands in your opponent’s non-volley zone. They cannot attack this shot.

Fault: There are certain actions that, if committed, will result in a stoppage of play due to a rule violation – these are known as faults. If the receiving team makes a fault, the serving team gets a point. If the serving team makes a fault, the server either loses their serve or the other team gets a side out.

Forehand: A forehand stroke is made by holding your racket in your dominant hand and swinging it forward so that your forearm is facing the target. This is generally the most comfortable and natural stroke.

Groundstroke: After hitting the ball once, it is referred to as a ‘groundstroke’ if the ball is hit from at or around the baseline.

Half Volley: A shot that is hit right after the ball bounces, but before it reaches the highest point of its bounce.

Let: A rally or serve that must be retaken due to an infraction.

Lob: A lob is a powerful stroke that sends the ball high and deep, making the other side retreat to the baseline.

Rally: The game continues after the serve, and before a fault is made.

Side Out: The side that loses its service is declared out, and the other side is awarded service.

Volley: A player hits a volley during a rally before the ball has hit the ground.

Court Terms

The following are the terms for the physical areas on a pickleball court. You’ll want to commit these terms to memory before your first game so you know where to stand, where to serve, and where to stay clear of.

Court Terms


  • Baseline: The line that runs along the back of the court is called the baseline. You cannot cross this line when serving the ball.
  • Centerline: The centerline runs from the kitchen to the baseline, dividing the court into two equal halves.
  • Sideline: The sideline delineates the boundary of the court on either side of the net. It separates in-bounds from out-of-bounds.

Kitchen: The non-volley zone that extends 7 feet on either side of the net is nicknamed the kitchen.

No-Man’s Land or Transition Zone: The area of the court between the kitchen and the baseline is known as the No-Man’s Land, or the Transition Zone. You should try to stay away from this area as much as possible because it gives your opponent a clear shot.

Non-Volley Zone: Volleyball players are not allowed to hit the ball over the net within 7 feet on either side of the net. The best place to position yourself is right behind the non-volley zone. The net will make it difficult for your opponent to hit you at various angles.

Service Courts: The service courts are the sections on either side of the net, bordered by the non-volley line, the baseline, and the sideline.

New Pickleball Terms

Every year, new pickleball terms and phrases emerge, adding to the already confusing terminology. There are a number of unofficial pickleball sayings that have become popular on courts.

New pickleball terms for 2023

New pickleball terms for 2022

In 2023, several changes were made to the pickleball rules. The main changes to the pickleball terms are as follows:

Technical Warning: A referee’s warning for a behavioral violation does not result in points being deducted.

Verbal Warning: A verbal warning may be issued to each team per match by the referee.

Volley Serve: The most common way to serve is when the server hits the ball with one hand before it bounces.

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