Pickleball can be played singles or doubles; most people play doubles, according to USA Pickleball. The basic rules are pretty straightforward:
Points are scored by the team that serves, and you play to 11 points. A team has to win by 2 points.
When you serve the ball, you must hold the paddle and the ball below your waist, and serve underhand. A ‘drop serve’ is also permitted.
You serve diagonally cross-court. While serving, you have to keep your feet from touching the court or the sideline area, and keep at least one foot behind the baseline.
Players serve until they commit a fault, which is any rules violation that stops play. The first serves are made from the right side of the court, and if the server scores a point, that player then serves from the left side.
With the first serve of the game, that team gets only one chance to serve (until they commit a fault). But the opposing team then gets a chance for both players to serve (meaning until their team makes two faults). After this round, each team only gets one fault before the serve switches to the opposite team.
There’s a two-bounce rule. This means that each side has to let the ball bounce once before returning it. After the those two bounces, you can either hit the ball before it bounces (a volley), or off a bounce.
There’s a zone called “the kitchen” within 7 feet on both sides of the net. This is the “no-volley” zone — meaning you can only hit a ball from this zone if it bounces first. If you hit a volley when standing in the kitchen, it’s considered a fault. It’s also a fault if you accidentally step into the kitchen after hitting a volley, even if it’s just momentum that sends you there.
A ball touching any part of the line is “in.”
A serve that hits the kitchen or kitchen line is a fault.