The two bounce rule in pickleball, also known as the double bounce rule or sometimes written as the “2 bounce rule,” distinguishes pickleball from similar games and is essential to gameplay.
Everyone’s heard of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. But what about pickleball, I like to describe it as a quirky one-of-a-kind mash-up of the three racquet-based sports!
If that sounds like a blast, then pickleball is the game for you.
Whether you’re a pickleball novice or practically a pro, there is always more to learn. In the decades since its invention, the game has attracted fans of all ages and skill levels with its straightforward structure, fast-paced play, and familiar elements of other racquet-based games.
Like any sport, though, it takes time to develop a solid grasp of pickleball’s rules, especially more complex ones like the double bounce rule. But with patience and plenty of practice, pickleball’s rules will soon become second nature.
What Is the Origin of Pickleball?
Any new pickleball player is inevitably curious about the origins of the sport and its off-beat name, I know I sure was! Pickleball was invented in 1965, and some sources say the game is named for the inventor’s dog, Pickles. Others maintain that the hodge-podge nature of pickleball is reminiscent of the pickle boat in rowing when leftover oarsmen comprise an impromptu team.
The source of the name may be unconfirmed, but the game’s inventors are well-known. This unique sport was developed in 1965 by two fathers, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, who were looking for a way to entertain their children during the long summer days.
They turned to Pritchard’s old badminton court, inventing the rules as they played and using makeshift paddles and balls. The game was a hit, and over the years, it gained popularity across the United States and the world.
How Is Pickleball Played?
While the zany name’s origins might be shrouded in mystery, the rules of pickleball are generally straightforward.
One rule—the two bounce rule—sets this game apart from tennis and other similar sports. Before I explain the 2 bounce rule in pickleball, it’s crucial that you understand the overall gameplay.
Pickleball is typically played as doubles, with two players on each side. However, playing as singles, with one player on each side, is also an acceptable mode.
A regulation pickleball game takes place on a badminton-sized court. If you are just playing for fun, though, a tennis court or any flat area will do in a pinch. Each player will need a pickleball paddle and a special ball that has holes in it, similar to a wiffle ball.
What Is the 2 Bounce Rule in Pickleball?
The two bounce rule is unique to pickleball and sets the game apart from its cousins like tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. But exactly what is the 2 bounce rule in pickleball?
The two bounce rule in pickleball, also known as the double bounce rule or sometimes written as the “2 bounce rule,” distinguishes pickleball from similar games and is essential to gameplay. This is the pickleball rule that beginners most often struggle to grasp, and if they aren’t careful, they may accidentally commit a fault.
According to the official US pickleball rulebook, the two bounce rule means that both sides must allow the ball to bounce prior to returning after a serve. This means if you serve the ball across the court to your friend, they must let the ball bounce once on their side before returning it.
Once the ball comes back over to your side, you must also allow the ball to bounce once on your side of the court before you can hit the ball back. Hence, the ball must have two bounces immediately after the serve.
Why Was the 2 Bounce Rule Invented?
The double bounce rule may sound arbitrary at first. After all, why couldn’t a pickleball player just volley the ball back after a serve?
Surprisingly, the two bounce rule is actually a way to extend gameplay and enables players to continue the game beyond one or two rallies.
Imagine you are the server in a game of pickleball. For a legal serve, the server must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball into the opponent’s quadrant catty corner from them.
Without the double bounce rule, your opponent could simply volley the ball back to you immediately once it crossed to their side without letting the ball bounce at all. Since you had to serve diagonally, you would be too far away to return the ball even if you sprinted across the court, and the play would end as soon as it began.
If the two bounce rule didn’t exist, the cards would be stacked against the server. But when this rule is observed properly in gameplay, players will see longer plays, a fairer game, and an overall more enjoyable pickleball experience.
Implementing the Two Bounce Rule in Gameplay
At first, it might be difficult to integrate the 2 bounce rule seamlessly into your pickleball games. I can confirm that it can feel unnatural to wait for the two bounces before being able to volley.
I highly recommend that you take the time to practice this. It’s the best method to integrate this rule naturally. It can also be helpful to count the bounces out loud as a reminder to wait for each bounce.
What Are Some of Pickleball’s Other Rules?
Once you are clear on what the 2 bounce rule is in pickleball, I always recommend brushing up on pickleball’s other rules as well. While it is a fairly easy game, violating any of the rules below could result in a fault and cost you the game.
Keep the Ball in Bounds.
While players will serve from behind the baseline, the ball must hit within the service area to remain in play.
Use Proper Serve Technique.
Players must also serve underhand and hit the ball to the diagonally opposite service court.
The Game Ends at a Set Number of Points.
Points are only awarded on your serve. In official pickleball games, the winner must have 11 points. However, tournaments are often played to 15 or 22.
Stay Out of “the Kitchen.”
The no-volley zone extends seven feet on either side of the net. Players cannot step into this section, known as “the kitchen,” to volley.
Practice Makes Perfect
While becoming a true pickleball professional takes time, familiarizing yourself with pickleball’s rules, regulations, and strategies is a surefire way to improve your game.
If you are knowledgeable about unique aspects of the game, like what “the kitchen” means and what the two-bounce rule is in pickleball, you’ll find you commit fewer faults and have longer, more successful games.
I can’t stress this enough, practice makes perfect! The best way to improve is just to get out on that court and play.
Looking for more? Here are some other articles I put together:
Learn: About Pickleball, Why is it Called Pickleball?, Basic Pickleball Rules, Pickleball Court Dimensions, What is Pickleball?, Pickleball Singles vs Doubles – Strategies and Rules, Indoor vs Outdoor – What’s the Difference?, and What is the Most Aggressive Shot in Pickleball!
Equipment: What Type of Pickleball Paddle is Best?, Best Pickleball Shoes, Learn More About Pickleball Equipment and Where to Buy It, Best Pickleball Clothes for Men and Women, Best Pickleball Accessories And Must-Have Gear, and Best Pickleball Paddle.