Get Began Enjoying Pickleball with These Coaching and Sport Suggestions

Playing pickleball  can be highly addictive; especially for beginners. Serving as the fastest-growing sport in America with an estimated 36.5 million players and rising, pickleball participation has grown an average of 223.5 percent over the last three years.

If you’ve never played, pickleball uses a paddle similar to ping pong and combines elements of both tennis and badminton but is an exciting game of its own.

Although often compared to tennis, “Pickleball isn’t just a game of hitting a ball back and forth until the ball is unreturnable, it’s a strategic dance of patience and finesse, explains Laree Adair Mancour, PPR certified pickleball coach at Bay Club.

Mancour was introduced to pickleball by her mother-in-law, Carole Myers, a close friend of Joel Prichard, the sport’s inventor, also known as “the Father of Pickleball.”

Following a botched knee surgery stemming from a soccer injury, Mancour found herself in search of a new athletic pursuit, one that could accommodate her competitive drive without the physical toll. Fast forward to today and she is currently a Bay Club Pickleball Pro, USA Pickleball PPR Certified, and 4.0 Pickleball competitor with countless podium finishes.

“It’s fantastic to see more people getting off their couches to try this game, which is touted as “Anyone Can Play.” You don’t need a competitive edge, you can simply enjoy the laughter and the satisfaction of mastering a single shot,” she says.

With that, if you’ve been curious about how to play the game, now is the time to try your hand (or paddle) and hit the court for a new sport that will provide exercise, lots of fun, and the chance to build new friendships.

Where Can You Play Pickleball?

The fantastic thing about pickleball is it can be played almost anywhere, such as well-lit parking lots, backyards, or garages—though Mancour recommends an official court. “However, as you grow more invested, you’ll likely become selective about your courts, prioritizing official-sized courts, with permanent nets and ample space between the courts to showcase your ATP (Around the Post) shots,” says Mancour.

To locate pickleball courts nearby you can download the Places2Play app or head over to the brand’s website and type in your zip code.

Photo by Brendan Sapp on Unsplash

What You Need to Get Started

  1. An opponent
  2. A pickleball ball
  3. A pickleball paddle
  4. A pickleball court with a net
  5. A calendar to manage your drilling, match and tournament schedule, once you become hooked,

Common Pickleball Terms and Definitions 

Before you play, understanding pickleball terminology is important. Here are a few terms that rank high in the game of pickleball.

The Kitchen

This is the n-Volley Zone, often referred to as “the kitchen.” This area is where much of the game is played, (you step in and out of the kitchen for much of the game). You can’t hit the ball out of the air while in the kitchen- it just has to bounce.

The Dink

Is a soft controlled shot placed within or just outside the non-Volley Zone. It’s a strategic shot that lands just over the net and within the opponent’s non-volley zone. The goal of this shot is to force your opponent to hit upwards making the shot difficult for them to generate power. If your attack is unsuccessful and the ball is reset, you start all over again dinking with the strategy of not giving your opponents a ball they can attack and patiently waiting for the next opportunity for your team to attack.

A Let

Where the ball hits the net but remains in bounds.

Pickleball player getting ready to serve to start a pickleball gameJo/Adobe

Pickleball Rules and Overview

The Picklball Court

Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court measuring 44 x 20 feet, divided by a net standing 34 inches high at its center and 36 inches at the posts. Each side of the court features left and right service areas, along with a 7-foot “no-volley zone,” located closest to the net.


Players use a paddle that must adhere to specific size and performance criteria.

The Game Count

Can be played as doubles or singles, with doubles being more common.


Matches are typically played to 11 points, with a win by a margin of 2.

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Serves must be made diagonally crosscourt and underhand, with contact below the server’s waist. Only one serve attempt is allowed, except in cases of a “let,” where the ball hits the net but remains in bounds.

The first serve originates from the right side of the court, with Partner 1 of Team A serving. If a point is scored, Partner 1 serves from the left side. This rotation continues until Team A faults, passing the service to Team B.

Subsequently, both players on the serving doubles team have the chance to serve and score points until they fault. Once Team B faults, Partner 1 of Team B serves, switching sides with each point won. Partner 2 of Team B then serves until another fault occurs, relinquishing the serve back to Team A.

Following the Serve

The ball must bounce before being returned, and the serving team must also let it bounce before hitting it back—known as the “two bounce” rule.

Once the ball is in play

Both teams can either volley or play it off a bounce, but volleys are prohibited within the kitchen. Moreover, players cannot step into the kitchen after volleying a ball outside of it. However, players are allowed to enter the kitchen to hit a ball off the bounce. Essentially, any time other than during a volley, it’s permissible.

Stay out of the kitchen during volleys.


The serving team is the only one who can score. Scoring in pickleball utilizes a “side out” method. While it might seem complex initially, it becomes clear with practice.

Two females playing a pickleball singles matchRon Alvey

Mancour’s Tips for Winning a Pickleball Game:

The pickleball pro’s biggest tip, and the most important thing you must do to win at Pickleball, is to stop “playing” and drill. “You can’t become a great golfer if you don’t spend hours on the range hitting the same shot over and over: You will never master a Pickleball shot without drilling it.”

And when you step onto the court to play—don’t think, just play. “Your body knows what to do and that voice in your head will only mess you up. Trust your instincts, silence your inner critic, and just enjoy the game!”

If you’re serious about mastering Pickleball, Mancour says patience is key. “If you want to compete, finding a compatible partner who enhances your game and shares your strategic mindset is crucial.” And for shaping up, Mancour recommends strengthening your quads and abs through off-court exercises, as Pickleball demands a lot of squatting and staying balanced. “Every pro dedicates time to strength training in the gym to optimize their physical performance at the highest level.” And most importantly, have fun!

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