Beginners Guide To Pickleball : How To Play Pickleball

Pickleball is a trendy sport that seems to be taking the world by storm. At SwingDish, we are here to keep you informed and knowledgeable on this “new-ish” sport that is being played by women nearly everywhere. Whether you are a novice at pickleball or you have a few matches under your belt, this article can help you jumpstart your knowledge on how to play this exciting sport. Stay tuned for everything you need to know about how to play pickleball!

pickleball match with audience

Where do you Play?

One of the best aspects of pickleball is that it is relatively easy to find somewhere to play. You simply need to find an existing tennis court. If you are playing somewhere such as a club, the staff might already have a dedicated court set up for pickleball. If you are on your own or somewhere that does not offer pickleball, then you are able to easily purchase the net needed to make a pickleball court of a tennis court. These pickleball court materials are relatively easy to find and can be purchased at places such as Amazon. The pickleball courts are much smaller than traditional tennis courts and many different pickleball setups can be placed on a single tennis court. 

As pickleball gains in popularity, many established clubs and resorts are now offering pickleball as an option for their patrons when visiting their establishments. We recommend checking with your local club to see if they offer the court setup to play pickleball. If you find yourself on a resort vacation, it is also quite possible that they offer pickleball to play as well. Our Beginner’s Guide to Pickleball has a fantastic list of resorts that offer pickleball to their guests, as well as several locations for pickleball gathering spots across the country.

couples pickleball match

What do you need to play?

Pickleball is a bit of a mixture between traditional tennis and ping pong. Due to this, the equipment needed to play is also a mixture of both tennis gear as well as ping pong gear. The paddle used for pickleball is most similar to a ping pong paddle. Pickleball paddles are approximately eight inches wide and are made of wood. Pickleball paddles can be purchased at most sporting goods stores or at online retailers. The Franklin Activator Wooden Pickleball Paddle Set is a great starter kit for beginners. It includes two paddles as well as two pickleball balls. The pickleball balls themselves are made of hard plastic that have holes uniformly spaced around them.

Pickleballs upclose with a match going on in the background

Once you have your court to play on, your paddles, and your pickleball ball, the only thing missing is what you need to wear. As we all know, this might just be the most important aspect of playing. Worry not, we have you covered with what to wear too!

For shoes, you are able to wear the shoes that you would normally wear for a match of tennis. If you are in the market to try out a new pair of shoes, we recommend the New Balance FuelcELL 996V4.5 shoes. These shoes are comfortable, stylish, and have been proven to work well on courts for both tennis and pickleball. 

Newbalance Shoe

The perfect outfit is also equally important for a great pickleball match. When it comes to court fashion, there are so many incredible options available to you, depending on personal preference. A great rule of thumb is to dress in your favorite tennis outfit for a pickleball match. 

The Eden Crimson Dress (also available in black) is a great choice if you would like a long-sleeved option for cooler weather. This is great for the winter or spring months. 


If you prefer a skirt and top option, we also have some fantastic options for you. The River Grey Skort is a newer piece that is perfect for a match of pickleball. This comfortable skort can be paired with your favorite top, such as the Esmerelda Roses Print top, for the ultimate stylish court outfit.  

Basic Rules of Pickleball

  1. Pickleball can be played with either two or four players such as with singles or doubles in tennis.
  2. Similarly to tennis, the ball is served diagonally across the court to the other side. The first serve starts from the right side of the serving side. Unlike tennis, pickleball uses an underhanded serve with the paddle.
  3. Points can only be scored by the side that is currently serving.
  4. The ball must be allowed to bounce by the opposing side before they can return it to the other side of the court. The side that served must then allow the ball to bounce on its side before returning it as well.
  5. Volleying is allowed, but only in the volleying zone. If players are within seven feet of the net on their side, that is referred to as the non-volley zone and volleying is not allowed.
  6. The teams will play to eleven points. The first team that reaches eleven points first must be leading by two to win. You win a point when, if serving, your opponent’s ball double bounces, is missed, or is hit out of bounds.

Another aspect of pickleball that is so incredibly important is etiquette. As tennis players, we always try to hold ourselves to the utmost standard of respect for our other players. This is also true for pickleball. It is very important to exercise respect and grace while both playing pickleball and watching the pickleball matches of others. More detailed information on the expected etiquette for pickleball can be found in our Beginners’ Guide to Pickleball: Pickleball Etiquette post.

The new craze of pickleball is a fantastic way for you to spend some time with your friends, stay active, and have a fantastic time the whole way through. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the game and also that you have learned a little more about how to play your first match. We truly wish you the best time, and as always, we are there cheering you on every step of the way.

Learn more about how Pickleball became all the rage in our Beginners' Guide to Pickleball: What Is America's Fastest Growing Sport

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