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Pickleball Terms Every Player Should Know

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If you’re just getting into pickleball, there are some basic terms every pickleball player should know. This will help make communication on the court easier and ensure that everyone is on the same page. In this article, we list some of the most common pickleball terms and what they mean. By understanding these terms, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and start playing like a pro!

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Pickleball Terms

As a Pickleball beginner aiming to become a pro, there are some terms used in the game you need to understand. Without understanding these simple terms, you may find it hard to cope and develop in the game. Even if you’ve passed the beginner stage, they’re still very important.

Let’s get started with some pickleball terms every player should know:

Ace

When the server hits the ball in a way that the receiving team can’t return it, this is called an ace. It’s also worth one point.

Approach shot

This is a shot that’s hit while moving from the backcourt towards the pickleball net. An approach shot is usually hit with topspin and lands deep in the pickleball court, near the baseline.

Backcourt

This is the area of the pickleball court behind the baseline.

Backhand

A backhand is a groundstroke or volley hit with the back of your hand facing the net. It’s generally considered harder to control than a forehand, but it can be just as effective.

Baseline

This is the line at either end of the pickleball court which runs parallel to the net. If a ball hits this line, it’s considered out.

Block

A block is when you return a shot by barely hitting it over the net. It’s usually used as a defensive shot and is effective when your opponent has hit a powerful shot.

Centerline

This is the line that divides the pickleball court in half, running perpendicular to the sidelines. Players must stay on their respective sides of this line when serving.

Cross-court shot

A cross-court shot is one hit diagonally from one corner of the pickleball court to the other. It’s considered a safe shot since it’s hard for your opponent to reach.

Dead ball

A dead ball is a pickleball that is no longer in play.

Deuce-court

The right side of your court.

Dink

A dink is a soft and low shot that just goes over the net and drops into the non-volley zone.

Doubles

Doubles is when pickleball is played with four players, two on each team.

Double bounce rule

This rule applies to serves only. The ball must bounce twice before the ball can be volleyed. It must first bounce on the receiver’s side and then bounce on the server’s side.  Once each side has hit the ball after a bounce, the ball can be volleyed (hit before bouncing).

Double hit

When one team hits the ball twice before hitting it over the net.

Drive

A drive is a shot hit hard and low over the net. It’s usually used as an approach shot and makes it difficult for your opponent to return.

Dropshot

A soft shot that barely clears the net and falls quickly to the ground. It’s used to surprise your opponent and can be very effective. It causes your opponent to have to shoot upward to get the ball back over the net.

Dump

A pickleball dump is a soft shot that unexpectedly drops into your opponent’s backcourt, typically near the baseline. 

Fault

A fault is any rule violation that stops play.

Foot Fault

A pickleball foot fault occurs when the server doesn’t have both feet behind the baseline when they hit the ball. This results in a loss of serve.

Forecourt

This is the area of the pickleball court in front of the baseline. It includes the non-volley zone.

Forehand

A forehand is a groundstroke or volley hit with the palm of your hand facing the pickleball court. It’s generally considered easier to control than a backhand and is the most common type of shot hit in pickleball.

Friendly fire

When a pickleball hits a player on the same team, it’s called friendly fire. It doesn’t result in a point and play continues as normal.

Game point

When one player only needs one more point to win the game, this is called game point.

Grand slam

A grand slam is when a team wins all three disciplines in pickleball (singles, doubles, and mixed doubles). This is a rare feat and is usually only accomplished by the very best players.

Grip

The way you hold your pickleball paddle is called your grip. Several different grips can be used, such as the continental grip or the Eastern backhand grip. Grip also refers to the tape wrapped around the handle.

Half-court

A cross-court shot that hits the ground in the opponent’s backcourt.

Half Volley

A shot that is hit immediately after the ball has bounced.

Hinder

If a player gets in the way of another player making a shot, this is called a hinder and the point should be replayed.

Kitchen

The pickleball kitchen is an area on the pickleball court that is behind the no-volley line. It’s also sometimes called the non-volley zone.

Let

If the ball hits the net on a serve and then lands in the proper service court, this is called a let and the point is replayed.

Lob

A pickleball lob is a high-arcing shot that goes over the head of the opponent and drops into their backcourt. It’s used to give yourself time to get back to the baseline or to get your opponents out of position.

Non Volley Zone

Also known as the “kitchen” or NVZ, this is an area 7 feet from either side of the net where players cannot volley the ball. If you do, it’s a fault.

Paddle

The pickleball paddle is the tool you use to hit the ball. It looks similar to a ping-pong paddle. 

Perimeter

This is the area of the pickleball court around the outside, including the sidelines and baselines.

Permanent Object

Any object on the pickleball court that can’t be moved, such as a fence or net post and can interfere with a shot.

Poach

When a pickleball player on the doubles team comes into their partner’s area of the court to hit the ball, this is called poaching. It can be used as a strategy to surprise your opponents.

Point

A pickleball point is scored when the server’s opposing team commits a fault or hits the ball out of bounds.  Points are only scored by the server.

PUPPY

This term stands for “pick up pickleball” and refers to someone new to the sport.

Put away

A pickleball put away is a shot that is hit hard and with topspin, making it difficult or impossible for the opponent to return.

Rally

A pickleball rally is when the players hit the ball back and forth to each other, without stopping. A dead ball ends the rally.

Ready Position

The stance you should take when you’re waiting to receive or return a shot. It’s similar to a tennis-ready position.

Return of Serve

When the receiving team hits the ball back over the net after the serve, this is called the return of serve.

Round Robin

A pickleball tournament format in which everyone plays everyone else in their group is called a round robin.

Serve

A hit by the server over the net into the service court of the receiver.

Side out

When the serving team loses a point, this is called a side out. The other team will now serve.

Sideline

The pickleball court is surrounded by two sidelines that run perpendicular to the net and are used as boundaries.

Score

In pickleball, the first team to reach 11 points (with a 2-point lead) wins the game.

Service

The pickleball serve is how you start each point. One player will serve the ball over the net into the opponent’s service court.

Service Court

This is the area of the pickleball court which is diagonally across from where you are standing when you serve. It’s where your opponents must return the ball when you serve.

Singles

A pickleball game played with two people, one on each team, is called singles.

Smash

A pickleball smash is a hard-hit shot that is used to finish the point. It’s hit down into the pickleball court so that it’s difficult or impossible for the opponent to return.

Volley

A pickleball volley is a shot that is hit before the ball bounces on your side of the court. Volleys can not be hit inside the non-volley zone or it’s a fault.

Pickleball terms Every Player Should Know Summary

We hope this pickleball glossary has helped you understand some of the terms used in pickleball. By understanding these pickleball terms, you’ll be able to communicate better on the court and up your pickleball game

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