Pickleball is a newer sport that has gained popularity because of its simple rules. It is a fast-paced and social game that is easy to pick up on. The most challenging part of the game is ultimately decided; pickleball singles vs doubles.
Pickleball participation has increased 9.7% in the last 3 years and there are 3,301,000 total participants.sfia.org
If you’re looking for a complete beginner’s guide check out: Pickleball Strategy: Complete Beginners Guide!
What is Pickleball?
Invented in 1969 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, pickleball quickly became a popular game for players of all ages and physical backgrounds. It is a unique sport that is a combination of tennis, ping pong and badminton:
- Tennis: similar net and rules
- Ping pong: solid wood or composite paddles
- Badminton: court dimensions and layout
Although the game originates as a children’s backyard game, pickleball is known to be popular in the United States and Canada especially amongst senior citizen communities because it is easier to pick up and on the body. One of the most significant aspects of the sport is that all ages can enjoy it.
For more information on pickleball check out our guide, What is Pickleball?
How to Play Pickleball
Many of the rules of pickleball are similar to those of tennis, with a few exceptions. Luckily, it is easy to pick up a friendly game with knowledge of a few simple steps.
Here is a quick introductory video that will show you pickleball 101:
Key takeaways to remember while playing:
- Serve underhand, paddle below wrist and waist
- Mind the no volley zone within 7’ of the net
- Winner is first to score 11 with at least a two-point lead
Understanding the basic rules of pickleball will make you that much more of a valuable player on the court whether you are playing singles or doubles.
Are you looking for a more in-depth guide on how to play? If so check out our guide, How to Play Pickleball!
If you plan to learn the game of pickleball, expect to learn the lingo. Every sport has some jargon that they use, and it reigns true for pickleball as well. Let’s take a look at some of the terminology:
Ace – When a server serves the ball, and the opposing team does not return it. Kitchen – The area seven feet from the net on both sides.
Dink – When a player hits the ball, and it lands right on the other side of the net in the kitchen. Volley – This is when you hit the ball without it hitting the court first.
Rally – When two teams are continuously returning the ball across the court. Let – A serve that hits the net and lands in the servers court.
Two Important Rules
Most sports have a few rules that you can never break. In baseball, one of these rules may be that you can’t block the bag preventing someone from sliding into home unless you want to get tackled. For football, it could be that you can’t hit someone on a fair catch.
In pickleball, there are two important rules always to remember:
The kitchen is the area on both sides of the court, seven feet from the net. You’re not allowed to volley from this area, and this rule exists to protect the game’s integrity. If you could walk right up to the net and hit the ball over it, the game would lean so far in your favor that it would ruin its competitiveness.
The only way you’re allowed in the kitchen is if you’ve already hit the ball, and you ended up in the kitchen. If the opposing team returns the ball and you try to hit it while you’re in the kitchen, it’s considered a fault.
We talked about the double bounce rule briefly, but it’s a requirement for the game. The ball must bounce once on the opposing team’s court before they can hit it after your serve. When they return the ball back to you, you must also let the ball bounce once before you can return it.
Once the ball has bounced once in both courts, you can then volley or let it bounce however you like.
Pickleball Court Terms
To help you understand the pickleball court dimensions in the previous graphic we’ll describe the pickleball court terms below! Be sure to review and familiarize yourself with these five pickleball court terms in order to have a better understanding of the court’s playing area, no-play zones, and court lines.
Baseline: The baseline runs parallel to the net at the back of the court. The baseline can’t be crossed when you serve.
Centerline: The centerline extends from the kitchen to the baseline and divides the court into two equal halves.
Kitchen: The kitchen is the nickname for the non-volley zone that extends 7 feet on either side of the net.
Non-Volley Zone: The non-volley zone also known as the no volley zone is the area within seven feet on both sides of the net where volleying is not allowed. One of the best places to position yourself is right behind the non-volley zone. The net will limit the number of angles at which your opponent can hit at you.
Service Courts: The service courts are the areas on either side of the centerline, bounded by the non-volley line, the baseline, and the sideline.
Sideline: The sideline runs perpendicular to the net on either side of the court. The sideline separates in-bounds from out-of-bounds.
While pickleball is a relatively simple game to pick up, playing singles can be a pretty big step for a first-timer. Make sure to take into consideration your knowledge of the game as well as your physical capabilities. Both will be different for everyone.
Things we like about singles:
- You can keep control of your moves
- Great cardio workout
- Challenge yourself to master the game
- Excellent practice for later doubles play
Things we don’t really like about singles:
- More physically demanding
- Requires more practice and knowledge of the game
Because you will be relying on your strategies alone, you will have to have at least a basic understanding of the rules and strategies of the game.
There are three key strategies to keep in mind with singles pickleball. Being in control of these strategies will keep you at the top of your game:
- Control deep serves
- Be ready to receive deep serves
- Simplicity is key
Remember that when you are playing singles pickleball, it is not the time to show off any impressive moves. Keeping your game direct and straightforward is sure to do the trick against your opponent.
The rules for singles pickleball are simpler than doubles but remember that since you’ll be playing alone, you will have to rely on your knowledge of the game to keep you on track. There are two primary things you need to know when keeping score in singles pickleball:
- Server’s score decides the serving side:
- Even score (0, 2, 4, 6, 10) = right side of court will serve
- Odd score (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) = left side of court will serve
2. Server announces two numbers before starting:
- Server’s score
- Opponent’s score
Keeping track of the rules might be challenging for a beginner, which is another reason why some prefer to start in doubles. Don’t let this scare you off, though. After all, practice makes perfect.
As you can imagine from the name, doubles pickleball is playing the game with two opponents on each side. This comes with its advantages and disadvantages depending on your style of play.
Things we like about doubles:
- More easy-going style of play
- Meet new people, socialize with more players
- Form a lasting bond with double partners
Things we don’t like about doubles:
- Not as much of a workout as singles
- Have to rely on a partner’s skills
Some people prefer to play doubles for the simple social aspect of it alone. Either way, pickleball is a great way to get outdoors and meet new people.
When playing doubles pickleball, you will have to work closely with your partner to strategize against your opponents. Playing doubles means that the two of you will have to be in tune with each other. Here are a few critical strategies for doubles pickleball:
- Focus on your serve
- Aim towards the center of the opposite court
- Find a partner who has an opposing dominant hand to you
Serving is vital in the game, but when partnering up, you want to give yourself the best odds possible against your opponents. Aiming towards your opponent’s faults like the center of the court improves your point-scoring potential.
The rules for doubles pickleball do become a bit more complicated than singles. But, once you start playing and get the hang of it, you’ll have it down no problem. There are three ways to handle specific situations you need to know when playing doubles:
- After the first serve:
- Either players can serve from the team
- Right side of the court should serve first
- If a serving team scores:
- Serving team players will switch places
- Receiving team is not allowed to change places
- Losing a rally is the only way to break a serving team
- If a serving team loses a rally:
- Receiving team becomes the new serving team
- If the new serving team faults, serve goes back to the original serving team
The game itself is simple; the challenge is determining: pickleball singles vs doubles. SO how do you pick?
Should I Play Singles or Doubles?
Deciding whether to play pickleball singles vs doubles is a decision only you can make for yourself. We recommend starting with doubles matches. This will help you get a feel for the rules of the game, court, and even paddle and ball. Having more people involved in the game around you, including a team member, will help to ease you into your way to pickleball mastery.
But, if you are looking to challenge yourself both mentally and physically, don’t be scared off. Singles pickleball is still a relatively simple game to pick up on and sometimes, diving in headfirst is the best way to learn something thoroughly.
Whether you choose singles or doubles, you will find that this is an easy and fun game for all ages. What’s great about this game is that you can determine the level of intensity and competition in each game. No two pickleball games have to look the same. Or, if you want them to, you can even find leagues to join. It is entirely up to you.
If you’re looking for an excellent social workout, look no further. If it is pickleball singles vs doubles, we pick pickleball!
Are you looking for more pickleball guides? If so, you’re in luck! We have plenty of other guides to help you, check them out: Why is it Called Pickleball?, Pickleball Rules, Pickleball Court Dimensions, Pickleball Scoring, Best Pickleball Paddle, and Best Pickleball Shoes!