Knowing the rules of any sport or game is the first step to ultimate success – and lots of bragging rights. Pickleball is no exception to this statement, and it has many of its own unique rules that all players must follow.
But instead of opening a comprehensive discussion on the various rules of pickleball, we’re going to hone in on one question: what is the double bounce rule in pickleball?
The rule poses many questions to new players. Rather than going into the sport blind, let’s take some time to dig into the double bounce rule in pickleball and learn how to avoid violating it.
If you’re looking for a complete beginner’s guide to pickleball check out: Pickleball Strategy: Complete Beginners Guide!
Double Bounce Rule: The Basics
The double bounce rule in pickleball guides and directs how players serve and return. This rule applies to the beginning of every point – with no exceptions.
More specifically, the double bounces rule states that once a player has served the ball, it must bounce twice before a player can make a volley shot. Essentially, each side must perform one groundstroke before a volley can occur. The sequence goes as follows: serve, groundstroke return, groundstroke return, regular play.
Of course, to fully understand this rule, a player must know what a groundstroke is, as well as a volley.
What is a Groundstroke?
According to USA Pickleball, a groundstroke is the most powerful and most accurate stroke in pickleball. Because of this assessment, it’s also the most commonly used shot too.
A groundstroke, in the simplest of terms, is a shot hit after the ball has bounced on the ground. It is most often performed near or at the baseline of the court, as a player can achieve a significant amount of distance from a groundstroke.
There are several resources you can use, including videos online, to learn, practice, and perfect your groundstroke. However, we have a few steps you can follow to nail down the basics.
To start, move to the appropriate area of the court to accurately meet the ball where it will land. Establish your ready position or the position in which you will perform the groundstroke. The best way to do this is to pivot your shoulders and hips. This turns your non-paddle shoulder to the front.
Meanwhile, your paddle-holding hand should be swinging towards the back of the court in preparation for your shot. As an option, you might consider bringing your front arm up and forward to maintain better balance.
When it comes time to hit the ball, step forward with your front foot and bring your paddle forward quickly. Be sure to make contact with the ball quickly, just before it reaches the top of its bounce.
You will make your best groundstroke shot when you keep the paddle tilted. You want to keep it slightly open, maintain a firm wrist, and follow through to straighten your body.
Likewise, you can also perform a groundstroke from a backhanded position to achieve similar results. You complete a backhand groundstroke by gripping the paddle with both hands. With your dominant hand at the bottom of your paddle and the other hand just above it.
Some players actually prefer to do a backhand groundstroke using just one hand. This involves adjusting the grip of your dominant hand on the paddle to hit the ball accurately. One-handed backhand groundstrokes are usually harder for most people than the traditional two-handed stroke. However, it depends on your personal preference.
A groundstroke is the type of shot you will have to perform for your first hit under the double bounce rule. You can use either the forehand or backhand shot. It doesn’t matter which option you choose as long as you have let the ball bounce on your side of the net first.
What is a Volley?
Unlike a groundstroke, a volley is a shot that you make before the ball bounces on the ground on your side of the net. You cannot perform this shot off of a serve, per the double bounce rule, and you also cannot hit a volley within the non-volley zone.
The volley is an advantageous and strategic type of shot that allows you to make the most of angles by hitting very low, quick returns. When hitting a volley, you can more easily manipulate the direction of the ball, aiming it away from your opponent.
To perform a volley, a player should start in the ready stance with their feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and paddle held in a backhand grip.
From here, a player can push or block a shot before it bounces on the ground. In pickleball, a player cannot use a backswing on a volley shot. You must use a pushing or blocking motion.
You can, however, switch up the angle of your paddle. Doing so allows you to hit short, angled balls or very long, direct balls – both of which can certainly mess up your opponent.
The Process of the Double Bounce
Grasping the double bounce rule can be a bit tricky for some beginners. When does the ball have to bounce? Where can it bounce? How many times should I let it bounce?
To clear up any of this potential confusion, we’ll take you through the process of the double bounce rule in pickleball step by step.
At the beginning of every point, the serving team will serve the ball to their opponent(s). One player will serve the ball. On this serve, the receiving team has to let the ball bounce before hitting it back.
In other words, the receiving team must return the ball with a groundstroke – either front hand or backhand.
Once the receiving team has returned the serve, the serving team must also let the ball bounce before they hit it. So, like the receiving team, the serving team also has to perform a front hand or backhand groundstroke.
After this situation has played out, both teams can then start using volleys. At this point and beyond, during this point, all players can use groundstrokes and volleys until the point is over.
Take note that once a point has ended and one team has won the point, this process must repeat for the next point. Every single rally must start with the above steps in order to properly follow the double bounce rule.
Why is There a Double Bounce Rule?
To the novel player, the double bounce rule in pickleball may seem silly. If your shot gets the ball over the net and within the boundaries of the court, why should it matter what happens during the first two shots?
Mostly, the double bounce rule makes pickleball a playable and enjoyable sport. Consider the ramifications of eliminating the double bounce rule. If no such rule existed, then plays could stand at the ready, receive a serve, and immediately smash it out of the air in a way that no server could recover from.
By applying the double bounce rule, the game is allowed to progress naturally and has the proper time and development period to establish a rally. In fact, because this rule exists, you might find yourself in some long – and ultimately, enjoyable – rallies that go back and forth for quite some time.
By following the double bounce rule, both sides are at the same advantage to begin a point. From there, it is left up to the skill and strategy of each player, rather than the luck of being on the serving or receiving end.
Sports-related to pickleball, such as tennis or ping pong, may very likely be more familiar to athletes than pickleball itself. If that’s the case for you, you might find it difficult to adjust to some of the nuanced rules that pickleball presents.
Though many of the rules in these sports overlap, the double bounce rule is one that differs. Therefore, can be hard to get the hang of. For example, many tennis players have long adopted the habit of serving the ball and immediately approaching the net to follow. When playing pickleball, you have to remember to stand back. This is because you have to wait for another bounce, thus the pickleball double bounce rule.
Once you adapt to these rules, you will see that pickleball is a rather enjoyable game. You can play with friends, family, and even in a club!
Looking for more? Feel free to check out some of our other guides:
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