PickleBall Terminology

PickleBall Glossary / Terminology


A serve that is not returned by the opponent.

Approach Shot

A shot hit forehand or backhand while running up to the net.


A pickleball is a whiffle ball or a plastic ball with holes.


The area of the court within a few feet of the baseline.


Hitting the ball on the opposite side of your forehand.


Spin imparted to the ball by stroking it from high to low, causing it to spin in the direction opposite to its flight. Also called under-spin, slice, or chop.


Moving the paddle back from the ready position to prepare for a shot.


The line at the back of the pickleball court (22 feet from the net).

Bounce It

A directive from your partner to let the ball bounce (because your partner thinks it will land out of bounds).


Hitting the ball in such as way that it is carried along on the face of the paddle during its forward motion.


The line bisecting the service courts that extends from one side to the other.

Champion Shot

A ball which double bounces in the No Volley Zone


The motion from high to low that puts backspin on the ball.

Closed Face

The top of the paddle face is angled downward about 30 degrees from vertical.

Cross Step

From a split step position moving your right foot toward the left post or left foot toward the right post without moving your other foot at all.


The opponent's court diagonally opposite yours.


Nickname of the No Volley Zone.

Dead Ball

The ball is ruled to be dead when a fault is declared.


Far into the court, near the baseline.


Ball succeeding contact with the court (hitting the ground once) and currently live.


A dink is a soft shot, made with the paddle face open, and hit so that it just clears the net and drops into the no volley zone.


A game played with four people divided into two teams, each team having two players. Teams can be two men, two women, or a woman and a man (mixed doubles).

Double Bounce Rule

After a serve, each team must play their first shot off the bounce, after which the ball can be played off the bounce or volleyed.

Down the Line

A shot hit near a sideline that travels close and parallel to the same line.


A low shot hit to the opponent's back-court.

Drop Shot

Soft shot, usually initiated from mid- to back-court, that arcs just over the net and lands within the opponent's no volley zone.

Drop Shot Volley

A soft volley shot that is designed to slow the speed of the ball and return it short, just behind the net.

Drop Spin

Cutting under the ball to have it drop as it clears the net. Another shot for the pros.


An event that ends with the server giving up his serve to the other side.


The broad surface on the head of the paddle used to hit the ball.


aka dead paddle, when a ball is hit with little to no force causing the shot to be extremely short.


A midair pickleball that must bounce on the playing surface (return of serve, or returning the return)

Flat Face

The hitting surface of the paddle is kept parallel to the net.

Foot fault

When ones foot enters into the no volley zone

Follow Through

A continuation of the motion of your swing that follows the direction you wish the ball to travel.


A stroke hit on the same side of the body as the hand holding the paddle.


Regulation games are played to 11 points (a team must win by two points). Some local games are played to 15 points.


How you hold the handle of the paddle, or the material that is wrapped around the handle.

Ground Stroke

A stroke made after the ball has bounced.


A type of hit where the player hits the ball immediately after it has bounced in an almost scoop-like fashion.


The part of the paddle above the handle that is used to hit the ball.


An affectionate name for the no volley zone.

Let serve

A serve that touches the top of the net and lands in the proper service court (it is replayed without penalty).

Line Calls

Line calls are to be made by players on their side of the net. The proper code of line calling is, “They call it on their side and you call it on your side.” Spectators cannot make line calls, they are spectators not referees. One partner can overrule another partner on a line call or any other fault. A team can ask the opponents if they saw the ball in or out but they must accept their decision as final. If no one clearly saw the ball in or out, the decision goes to the opponent and the ball is in. A let serve is not supposed to be taken but in a friendly game players may opt to do that. However, this will not be allowed in a tournament. Some players have very small lines. Other players claim they can clearly see the ball in from their baseline to your baseline.

Lob Shot

A shot that sends the ball high overhead and deep, forcing the opponent back to the baseline.


The area between the non-volley zone and the back-court.

No-volley zone

A seven-foot area adjacent to the net within which you may not volley the ball. The non-volley zone usually includes all lines around it.

Open Face

The top of the paddle face is angled upward about 30 degrees from vertical.


Often shouted after the Flapjacks have been played and open volleying begins.

Overhead Shot

A shot made with the paddle over head height. Often synonymous with smash or slam, although it can refer to any shot made at that height, whether hard or soft.


Pickleball is played with a paddle not a racquet. A paddle can be made of wood, graphite or other composite material but cannot have holes drilled in it. A racquet has holes as in a tennis or badminton racquet. A paddle can only be a specific size not like Prince Tennis racquets. If you add the measurement across the face of the paddle and the length from the top of the paddle face to the butt end of the handle, it cannot exceed 24 inches. There is no limit to the weight the paddle can be but most are around 7.5 – 8.5 ounces. Players do use wooden paddles that might weigh 15 ounces.

Passing Shot

A shot that passes beyond the reach of the player and lands in bounds. Typically played against an opponent who is advancing on the non-volley zone or who is already there.


Shouted by the server pre-serve to alert the the playing field of the serve.


Similar to being skunked in other sports or games, if you are beat 11-0 by your opponent(s), you have been Pickled. Do your best to prevent this!


The court on which the Championship Game is played on.


A certified pickleball player who may or may not become addicted in the next 10 minutes or less.


2 or 4 (singles or doubles)


In doubles, to cross over into your partner's area to play a ball.


A short, quick shot, without significant back-swing or follow through, usually during a volley.

Put Away

A ball hit such that the opponent cannot return it. A winning shot.

Ready Position

When receiving the ball on a serve or waiting for the return of a ball, players should have their weight on the balls of their feet and their paddle straight out in front so they are ready to go to their forehand or backhand as soon as they pick up the ball off the opposing players paddle.


Continuous play, hitting the ball back and forth between opposite teams.

Rally Point Scoring

In this system, the team that wins the rally gets a point and the serve. Typically played to 15 instead of 11.


The receiver is the person on the diagonal - opposite side of the court from the server. The receiver is the only player who may return the ball on the serve.


Any rallies that are replayed for any reason without the awarding of a point or side out.

Scoring Sequence

The proper way of announcing score is your score, their score and server number. The server must announce the score or the other team can refuse to accept the serve until they do. It is only proper etiquette to announce the score. If the wrong score is announced the receiver can let the ball go and declare a let serve.

Second Serve

Term used to describe the condition when the serving team begins the game or subsequently loses the first of its two allocated serves.

Serve (Service)

An underhand lob or drive stroke used to put a ball into play at the beginning of a point.

Server number

When playing doubles, either “1” or “2,” depending on whether you are the first or second server for your side. This number is appended to the score when it is called. As in, the score is now 4 - 2 - second server.

Service Side Out Scoring

Pickleball is the last paddle sport to use the service side out rule in scoring. This means that you must get the serve to win a point or you can only get a point if you are serving. You must get the serve back from the other team to score a point.


Moving in tandem with your partner so that you stay about 10 feet from each other and avoid leaving open spaces on your half of the court.


The flight of the ball after it leaves the paddle.


The line at the side of the court denoting in- and out-of-bounds.


A game played with two people, one on each side.


Another name for backspin or under-spin.

Smash or Slam

A hard, overhead shot.

Split Step

When both feet are parallel to each other and ready to cross in either direction.


A term sometimes used by players to indicate that the serving team starting the game will only get one service down before giving up the ball. So the player that starts serving in the right court can either say 0-0-2 or 0-0-Start. Both are understood and acceptable.


The action of hitting the ball.

Technical Foul

The referee may add one point to a player's score or a team's score when, in the referee's judgment, the opponent is being deliberately abusive.


Spin applied to the ball by stroking it from low to high, causing it to rotate in the direction of its flight.

Two Bounce Rule

This term refers to the fact that the receiving team and the serving team must allow the ball to bounce once on their side of the net before they can play the ball on the fly. The serving team has to be very aware of this rule and not move up after the serve as in tennis. Both serving team members should stay behind the baseline.

Unforced Error

When a player misses a shot that is not very difficult.


To hit the ball before it bounces.

Volley Llama

A player attacking a ball in the no volley zone, illegal in game play.