The 4 Unspoken Rules of Pickleball

The 4 Unspoken Rules of Pickleball

Remember learning the strange rules of pickleball in your early days? You have to serve underhand. You can’t step into the kitchen…unless the ball bounces in it. And the ball has to bounce on both sides of the court before you can start volleying. 

When you finally think you have all the rules figured out, you then learn there are unwritten rules. Things nobody puts in a rulebook, but every player expects you to know. 

We’re glad to provide the resource we wish we had in our early days of pickleball. These are the unspoken rules of pickleball.

Acknowledge your net shots

When your shot hits the net and dribbles over for a point, you should acknowledge your luck. And not with a loud celebration. 

Many pros simply put their hand up as an apologetic gesture. Others say, “I’m sorry.” Because we all know the pain of losing a point to luck. 

There’s a debate on if you should apologize. What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments. 

Give the benefit of the doubt on line calls

The team receiving the ball makes calls on whether the ball is in or out. It’s only a matter of time — usually your first game — until you disagree with a call made by your opponents. But if you play with decent people, they are doing their best to make fair calls. So give them the benefit of the doubt on close calls. And if you aren’t playing with decent people, then who you play with will be easier to change than the calls they make.

A good rule of thumb for recreational play is this: if it’s close, call it in. It keeps the point going longer and people playing happier. 

The person who hits the ball has the most belief in their shot, which is why they’re the last one who should make the call on it. But if you feel strongly about a call, then offer a redo. After all, the ball doesn’t lie. 

Respect your partner

When thinking of your partner in pickleball, take up the Golden Rule. Pickle with others the way you want to be pickled with. 

Research (and probably your experience) prove that people don’t perform better when met with harsh criticism. And they definitely don’t feel better. 

When your partner isn’t performing their best, remember they’re still trying their best. Optimism and encouragement will help their chances of improvement more than anger and frustration. 

Finish on a good note 

Once you finish a game — win or lose — you should go to the center of the court, touch paddles, and say, “good game.” You won’t always feel like doing it, but the simple gesture reminds you that pickleball is all about relationships and friendly competition. There’s no point in crying over spilled pickle juice. 

Did we miss any? What’s another unwritten rule of pickleball?