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10 Essential Rules of Pickleball Etiquette

Two hands showing pickleball etiquette words do's and don'ts

Ready to jump into the fast-paced, paddle-flying world of pickleball? Before you begin, make sure to understand the basics of pickleball etiquette. Pickleball is becoming a wildly popular sport that combines tennis, badminton, and table tennis into one thrilling game. As with all games, there are specific rules and etiquette pickleball players should follow – including pickleball court etiquette, pickleball rotation etiquette, as well as pickleball rules. 

You’ll quickly realize that pickleball players make fast friends and always look for others to join their games. You’ll set yourself up for lifelong friendships and endless games by learning proper pickleball etiquette.

So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, it’s important to remember basic pickleball etiquette do’s and don’ts for the best possible experience for you and your opponents!

Before we get into the details, here is a summary of what we’ll cover:

Pickleball Etiquette: Do’s and Don'ts

Pickleball is a fast-paced and exciting game taking the world by storm. Whether you are a seasoned player or a beginner, it is essential to remember the unwritten rules of pickleball etiquette that make the game enjoyable for everyone involved.

Playing pickleball is more than just hitting the balls back and forth! It’s a sport that requires proper sportsmanship and pickleball etiquette. Every pickleball player must follow the game’s do’s and don’ts to ensure everyone has a good time.

Read on as our pickleball enthusiasts at Simply Pickleball explore some of the golden rules around pickleball etiquette!


Four pickleball players showing good pickleball etiquette after a game by the net

Do introduce yourself

It’s just the same courtesy you use in everyday life,  Be sure to introduce yourself to everyone before the game starts. Pickleball is a great way to make new friends. Calling people by their first name shows you care about getting to know them.

In the spirit of inclusivity and making everyone feel welcome, it’s important to acknowledge everyone’s presence on the court, regardless of their skill level or person’s physical limitations. This fosters a community where everyone is respected and has the chance to enjoy the game.

Remember to give a friendly wave or nod after you finish a game, as it is a sign of respect and acknowledgment to the other team. Even better is to go with your partner to the net and “paddle-tap” with your opponents. This is usually done after every game, even if you lost 0-11.


Warm-up with other pickleball players

It can be tempting to jump straight into the action but make to allow time for a warm-up.  

If you’ve just arrived at the pickleball court for your first game, take some time to hit dinks, drop shots, drives, and serves

Here are a few ideas for pickleball warm-ups to include:

  • Jogging
  • Side steps
  • Hamstring stretches

Taking a few minutes to warm up before the game starts can prevent injuries. You also get a chance to size up your opponents and see how they play.  If you’ve already been playing and joined up with new pickleball players, ask them if they need a warm-up. 


Do learn the basic pickleball rules

This may sound obvious, but make sure you observe and follow the basic pickleball rules, including serving, scoring, and calling out faults. Pickleball rules can be confusing, and more are added to the list yearly. Here are a few basic ones to help you get started:

  • Calling the score. Every pickleball player must call out the score before each serve. Take the time to get it right and confirm your opponent’s point total if you’re not sure. Say it audibly so everyone can hear. If you call an incorrect score, your opponents can have you do it over if they catch it before their return. 
  • Faults. Faults can be tricky to call because each team member has a different view of the ball. It will look “in” to one person and “out” to another. Confer with your partner on close calls and make the best decision possible. The point automatically goes to the other team if you disagree on whether the ball was in or out. Accept line calls from your opponents. 
  • Serve. Make sure to serve underhand with the paddle below your waist. Also, both feet must be behind the baseline when you make contact with the ball.  

These are just a few of the basics to get you started. The more advanced players will indeed teach you many more pickleball rules. And remember that playing pickleball is not just about winning but also respecting your fellow pickleball players and enjoying the game.

Emphasize the importance of knowing the rules to create a fair play environment for all skill levels, especially on a public court, where players with various backgrounds and abilities come together.


Don't neglect pickleball court etiquette

Respect for active court is crucial in maintaining a harmonious environment. Ensure not to disrupt games in progress and be mindful of stray balls entering other courts. Pickleball etiquette starts as soon you arrive at the court. There are unspoken rules for spectators as well as players. 

  • Court rules. Every court has its own unique rules, which are usually posted in a common area. Some courts may be reservable, and others may be available for open play.  Some places have separate courts for different skill levels. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the local pickleball rules and ask a regular if you need help. 
  • Spectator etiquette.  You may find yourself waiting for the next game at busier pickleball courts. Remember to be respectful of those currently on the court. Avoid critical comments about their play, calling fouls, or engaging with players during their match. Do compliment great shots! 
  • Crossing the court.  Often you’ll need to cross through someone’s court to get through your own. Make sure to keep clear of their court and game before you cross. When you cross, make sure they are not in the middle of a point and give them a courtesy heads up. 
  • Stray Balls. Hitting a ball into another court is very common. Slipping on a ball, you don’t see can also be very dangerous. So, when you do it a shot into another court, make sure to loudly say/yell “BALL” or “BALL ON.”  The bad news is that this will interrupt and stop their game mid-point. The good news is they won’t trip over your unseen ball and injure themselves. 

Do be careful with powerful shots

In every pickleball doubles match, one player usually hits it much harder than everyone else. The good news is you need to play with better pickleball players to get better. The bad news is that you could get hurt if you’re the weaker player. 

 If you’re the stronger player, avoid hitting excessively powerful shots, especially when playing with new players. Aim for a more controlled and consistent shot to give newcomers a fighting chance.

Also, never aim for the head or upper body with a powerful shot, as it may cause injury. It’s rare for a player to aim for the lead, but that doesn’t mean a stray ball can’t hit you in the face. A good rule of thumb is to protect yourself with pickleball safety glasses.

Finally, avoid constantly aiming for the weaker player with powerful shots. Yes, you will win many more points, but it’s good pickleball etiquette to hit both opponents. 

two pickleball players reaching for the pickleball at the same time

Allow your partner their fair share of play

The key to success in pickleball etiquette is knowing when to hit the ball and when to let your partner hit it.  If it’s the excellent workout you are looking for, then you’ll get this from moving around the court regardless of if you played every shot!

It’s good practice in pickleball etiquette to take 60% of the shots when it’s your forehand and your partner’s backhand. If you have a righty/lefty team, make sure to communicate well when you both have the forehand simultaneously.

If you are a significantly stronger player than your partner, it can be tempting to hit every shot – especially when the other team keeps hitting it to the weaker player. Remember, unless you’re playing in a tournament, giving your partner their fair share of shots is good pickleball etiquette. 

You’re all out there to play pickleball, have fun, and get better.  Let your partner hit their fair share of shots which will give them experience and improve them.


Don't cause distractions

It is important to remember that the court is a shared space, so you should limit any unnecessary noise that could distract other players. 

To respect your playing partners, avoid conversations with spectators or others not on the court. 

Avoid shouting or talking loudly, as it can disrupt the game. Profanity is frowned upon, especially when kids are within earshot. 

Always walk behind other players when they are playing to avoid getting into their line of sight or blocking their view. Never walk through another court while a point is in play.


Keep communications clear

If you’re playing doubles with a pickleball partner for the first time or the 1000th time, it’s essential to have good communication. 

Good communication starts before the game. Decide who will get forehands down the middle or if there’s anything new they’re working on. 

During gameplay, it’s essential to overcommunicate by saying “I got it” or “You got it.” Or tip off your partner that you’re about to hit a drop shot, and they should go to the net. 

Developing good communication skills on the pickleball court is vital to advancing to higher skill levels. 

Four animated characters with the word communication above their heads

Do be a good sport

Always maintain good sportsmanship regardless of the outcome of the match. Shake hands or paddle-tap with your opponent after the game, whether you win or lose. Remember that pickleball is only a game meant to be enjoyed, and the etiquette or manners you show set the tone for the entire game.

Here are a few tips on good sportsmanship:

  • Paddle slamming. Unfortunately, we see this one all too often. Someone gets angry after losing a point and slams their paddle on the ground, fence, or net. It’s excellent for paddle manufacturers but not good for the game. Please don’t do it. 
  • Hitting into the sun. Sun can be an issue early in the morning and in the late afternoon. It can be tempting to hit lobs to a player looking directly into the sun, but that is poor pickleball etiquette. 
  • Play with all skill levels. Getting paired up with beginners can be frustrating, especially if you’re more advanced. If you and your partner are significantly better, split up to even the match. It’s an excellent opportunity to pass along some pickleball knowledge and get them excited about the game. If it’s their first time, give them some tips on rules, serving, and basic strategy. 

Keep learning

When we think we’ve got it “figured out,” we start hitting the net, hitting serves out, and losing our mojo. Pickleball is a humbling game. That is unless you become a lifelong student of the game. Study, take lessons, watch videos, read our blog, and continue to improve your game. Best to avoid giving unsolicited advice to other players, but it is good to encourage others to learn and get better as well!

For those looking to fine-tune their paddles for better balance and control, consider exploring accessories like pickleball lead tape. Adjusting the weight of your paddle can make a significant difference in your play, and our guide provides insights on how to do this effectively.


Pickleball Etiquette - To finish on…

Pickleball can be a fun and rewarding experience for beginners and advanced players on the court. Don’t forget that it’s only a game. Players who fully understand the rules of courtesy will always have a better experience. Remember to be aware of your opponent’s space, be respectful of their time, and take turns properly offering compliments to your opponents are also great ways to ensure that everyone is having the best time possible. 

Don’t forget to check our blog for weekly updates from our expert reviewers to discover even more new tips for enjoying pickleball today!

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