Knowledge Base

27 Most Popular Pickleball Terms for Absolute Beginners

If you are new to pickleball then understanding popular pickleball terms is absolutely necessary for you. Although pickleball game is quite similar to tennis, badminton and table tennis, yet pickleball terminology might cause confusion for you especially if you’re an absolute beginner.

We have compiled a list of 27 most popular pickleball terms along-with definitions and elaboration in straight forward way. So, without wasting any time let’s begin with pickleball definition and then move ahead for some advanced terms.

Pickleball Terms

Pickleball Terms for Beginners

Games like cricket, football and pickleball are full of technical terms. However, it’s always nice to begin with basic terminologies as beginners. So, here are some really exciting and basic pickleball terminologies for absolute beginners:

Why is it called Pickleball? – [Pickleball Definition]

A lot of people think that this name is given to this game without any sound logic. There are different speculations around the world regarding this issue but after thorough research and discussion with sports historians we’ve found two major reasons that are perfect to answer this question.

  • Joel Pritchard’s wife Joan began calling this game ‘pickleball because of this game was combination of different sports like tennis and badminton. Due to this reason, she remembered the pickleboat game.
  • Barney McCallum narrated that Pritchard used to play with his pet dog named Pickles so he named this game due to this very reason.

Pickleball Singles

It is a pickleball game format that is played between two players with both playing as opponents. In this format, a player has to be agile, flexible and sharp on his feet for healthy competition.

Pickleball Doubles

In this format ofpickleball game, a match is played between two teams. Each team comprises of two players. So, in pickleball doubles, there are total of four players playing in the form of teams. This format is easier when compared with singles.

What is USAPA?

USAPA stands for USA Pickleball Association and it is official body responsible for governing pickleball rules and tournaments all around the world. This association was formed back in 2005 for promotion of this game. USAPA is responsible for following things:

  1. Player rankings
  2. Establishment of rules and regulations
  3. Organizing pickleball tournaments

What is Pickleball Paddle?

Pickleball paddle is just same as racket in tennis or paddle in table tennis. It is used to serve and strike the ball during a match. A variety of materials like wood, graphite and composite material can be used for manufacturing paddles.

Pickleball ball

It is specialized hollow structured ball designated to be used in pickleball game. The number of holes in this ball vary from 26 to 40. For outdoor play you need to use harder ball that gives you nice bounce and flight. However, for indoor play, a softer ball can be used easily.


A baseline marks the end line of the pickleball court. From the center net, baseline is located at 22 feet on both sides.


This line is located at the center of court and divides the court into two halves. Center net is located right at this line.


In pickleball, a serve is played diagonally and it is an underhand shot. According to pickleball rules, a player should hit the ball under his waist while playing a serve. Player receiving the serve must return the serve in a clean manner to the server.


An ace is a non-returned serve and it results in point loss for the receiver.

What is a Let in Pickleball?

A serve hitting the net and falling in the service area is called a Let. Whenever a let occurs, server has to serve the ball again.

Approach Shot

A shot that is played by the player while moving forward towards the center net is called approach shot.

Dink Shot

A dink shot in pickleball is relatively softer shot that fells into the non-volley zone of your opponent in arc format.

Drive Shot

In pickleball, a drive shot is played straight, low and deep into opponent’s court.

Pickleball Drop Shot

This shot is hit by a player in a soft manner that is enough to clear the net area. The beauty of this shot is that it always fell short of your opponent so your opponent has to reach for the shot.


In order to make your opponent rush back towards the baseline, a player often plays a high shot directed deep into opponent’s court and this is known as Lob shot.

What is the kitchen in pickleball?

Kitchen zone is present at both sides of the net. Kitchen is a seven feet area on both sides of the net and it is also known as Non-volley zone. In this zone, players are not allowed to play volley shots.


In volley play, a player hits the ball in the air without allowing the ball to hit the ground. If both players keep on playing the ball in the air without bouncing it off the ground then the game is in volley play.

Volley Llama

Whenever a player plays volley shot from non-volley zone, fault occurs. This fault is termed as Volley Llama.


A smash is an overhead shot that is played at full speed. This shot is often played to hassle your opponent in the court.

Pickleball Double Bounce Rule

According to latest rules, double bounce rule is now renamed as two-bounce rule. Double bounce rule says that before volley play, each team/opponent must bounce the ball off the ground at least once. Without bouncing the ball from the ground, a volley shot is a fault which results in point loss.

Overhead Shot

In an overhead shot, a player plays the ball with paddle above his/her head towards the opponent in a downward direction. This shot is fast paced and forces the opponent to respond quickly. It is highly effective when you want to break volley play.

Pickleball backhand serve

In pickleball terms, a pickleball backhand serve is played by using your strong hand by moving it across your body from less dominated hand.


An action that occurs after foul play or violation of rule is called Fault. Whenever a fault occurs, play is stopped.


A shot that is played with your dominant hand with paddle flow starting from dominant hand side is termed as Forehand shot. The follow through of this shot moves paddle across your body from dominant to non-dominant side.

Rally Play

Rally play starts with a serve and continues till a fault occurs.

Second Serve

When a serving fault occurs, then server is asked to serve again. This is known as second serve.

The Wrap Up

Starting off by developing complete understanding of pickleball terms is really important for you as a beginner. Although pickleball has dozens of terms but for novice players, we have provided details on basic and commonly used terms. These will help you in developing understanding for game. However, this is not the end. We have a lot more for you so stay tuned.

About the author


I am James Brad i am pickle ball lover and love to write about pickle ball and pickleball gear. I play pickleball from 2015 I hope you like my writing.