Pickleball Etiquette: Basics for BeginnersPickleball

If you haven’t already tried it, you’ve probably heard of the growing excitement around pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. If you’re new to the sport you may be hesitant to jump into something you’re unfamiliar with, like most of us were the first time we stepped onto the court. Not to worry, pickleball is a friendly, social sport where we love to welcome people of all ages and skill levels (yes, even beginners!). But before you jump onto the court, let’s look at a few unspoken rules that will help you feel confident coming to High 5, Inc. for your pickleball experience. And for those of you who are already experienced pickleballers, it’s never a bad thing to review those unspoken rules of etiquette that help make this game so enjoyable.

Find some of the key rules and unspoken rules of etiquette for pickleball players to help you feel confident stepping onto the court:

  1. Know the Rules

The rules of pickleball are relatively simple. Review the rules here before you play. Remember, this is a friendly sport, so don’t hesitate to ask other players before your game starts if you are confused about any of the rules (we’ve all had to do it).

  1. Know Who’s Next

Want to hop in but you’re not sure how to indicate this? Look for the paddle holders. The system generally works with players placing their paddles on the holder and moving the ‘next on court’ indicator to the paddles. When visiting a pickleball court, always check out for the paddle holders, and book your spot on the court with your paddles. When in doubt, don’t sweat it. Ask a regular. We’re all here to have fun!

  1. Play with Everyone

Pickleball is designed to be a game for everyone! No one is excluded based on skill, age, gender, or any other distinction. If you’ve been playing for years, don’t be afraid to mix it up with players of various skill levels and help them learn. Likewise, if you’re a newbie, don’t be afraid to ask a pro for some tips and a game.

Don’t exploit an opponent’s physical limitations. It’s not only distasteful but also an unspoken rule. Our courts welcome everyone – as they always have been.

  1. A Friendly Game

Introduce yourself when starting a new game. And don’t be afraid to offer up a handshake, fist bump, or tapping paddles before or after a game. Always be polite and thank them for the fun time ahead or behind you.

  1. Announce the Score Clearly

When calling out the score prior to serving, project your voice loud enough where every player can hear you. The last thing you want is a dispute about scoring during a close match.

  1. Call What You See

 If you’re in the position to see your opponent’s shots, you should also always make it a point to call the shot ‘in’ or ‘out’ as clearly as you can so your opponent hears you. If you’re not sure whether your shot was a hit or miss, trust your opponent to make a fair call. When in doubt, keep playing. Remember, if in doubt, give the opposing players the benefit of the doubt and call it ‘in.’ Don’t hesitate to call your own shots ‘out’ since your opponent is also giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  1. Mistakes Happen, It’s OK

If you commit a foul or cross a line, own it. These are an inevitable part of the game. Even if your toe is barely poking past the kitchen line while you volley, it’s a violation. Your opponent may be too focused on getting to the ball to see it, so call it yourself. When you spot an opponent’s fault, stay cool and point it out without causing a fuss. No one enjoys having to micro-analyze each other’s plays. 

  1. Level the Playing Field

If you’re a seasoned player playing against a beginner, consider dialing down your level a bit to keep the game interesting for both sides of the net. Try some new shots to improve your skills. And if you’re the newbie in this situation, remember to thank the other player for their willingness to keep the play fun. (In a tournament setting, you shouldn’t be in this situation since you’ll be categorized by skill level.).

  1.  Celebrate, with Respect

A fist pump or a paddle tap is a great way to celebrate. But keep the trash talking and more boisterous celebrations for the tennis or basketball courts.

  1. Keep It Positive

Pickleball is a game for men and women, young and old alike. So keep it positive. Trash talking has it’s place, just not on the pickleball courts. Encourage each other and help make the game a positive and encouraging experience for everyone. 

  1. Wait Before Crossing

Nobody likes a game interrupted, so wait for a break in play before crossing through or behind someone else’s court. Make sure the other players see and acknowledge you before making your move.

  1. Call Out Your Stray Balls

Trust me, your ball will find itself on someone else’s court eventually. When this happens simply holler out a quick, ‘Ball on the court!’ to alert the players on that court. This prevents them from being confused by having two balls in their court and also helps prevent an injury that can be caused by stepping on an unseen and unexpected ball.

Sign Up and Play Today

See, not so bad! High 5, Inc. has 8 pickleball courts to choose from, so don’t hesitate to make some new friends and get your pickleball on with confidence. Sign up today for a Pickleball membership at https://high5inc.org/pickleball/.