Do You Speak Pickleball?

A JCC Los Gatos member playing pickleball.

Do You Speak Pickleball?

Pickleball is back at the JCC Los Gatos!

Pickleball – whether you are new to the sport or need a refresher, here are five rules for the game and key terms for becoming a fluent in pickleball.

The 5 rules that all pickleball players should know:

1. The ball must stay in bounds.

This means the ball must stay in the lines of the court. If the ball goes out of bounds, the ball goes to the opposing team.

2. There should be one bounce per side.

You must let the ball bounce once before hitting it to the other side. Breaking this rule will put you or your team at a disadvantage.

There is an exception to this rule, which lies in the “two-bounce rule.” After each team or player returns the ball to the other side after a single bounce, either side may begin volleying the ball.

3. Serving must be done at the baseline.

The player must serve at the baseline, with one foot behind it. When serving, you must also serve underhand.

4. The serve cannot land in the non-volley zone. 

The non-volley zone, commonly referred to as “the kitchen” is the court area within 7 feet of both sides of the net, where you must let the ball bounce before hitting it.

5. The game ends at 11 or 15 points.

The game typically ends at 11 points. The winning team has to win by at least 2 points, so if a team reaches 10 points, the game will go past 11 points.

Now that you know the basic rules of the game, here are some key terms so you can speak pickleball!

Fault – Any stoppage of play due to a rule violation.

Rally – The continuous play that happens after a serve until a fault occurs.

Volley – A ball that is hit in the air before it bounces.

Groundstroke – A ball hit after a bounce.

Lob – A lofted shot that sends the ball high overhead and deep.

Dink – A soft shot hit on a bounce from the non-volley zone.

Drop Shot – A soft shot hit off a bounce from deep in the court.

Think you’re fluent in pickleball or want to learn more about this fun game? Come to our pickleball kickoff here at the JCC Los Gatos on August 10th and August 12th! Players of all levels are welcome, and our very own Susan Sweedler will be there to teach beginners. Click here to learn how to register for the event!


The Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center (APJCC) of Jewish Silicon Valley is a Jewish nonprofit community center in Los Gatos that welcomes people of all faiths.

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