To fully understand pickleball, you need to understand the court. While it does look like a small tennis court, there are differences that are important to how the game is played. This post will walk through the various elements you’ll see on a pickleball court and what they all mean.
If you are playing on a standard-size pickleball court, you’ll find that it is 44’ from baseline to baseline, and 20’ from sideline to sideline. The non-volley zone, which is typically called the kitchen, extends 7’ feet on each side of the net and runs the entire width of the court. There is also a centerline that divides the court into zones, those being the left service area and right service area.
Anyone who has played a racket or paddle sport of any kind understands the role of the net. You must get the ball over the net in order to return it to your opponent’s side of the court. If the ball hits the net and comes back to your side, the point is over. A regulation pickleball net is supposed to be 36’’ high at each post and sag to 34’’ in the middle of the court.
The Non-Volley Zone
One notable way that PCKLball deviates from tennis is how play is handled around the net. In pickleball, you’ll find the non-volley zone marked by a line that is 7’ from the net on each side. As the name suggests, players are not allowed to go into this area of the court to hit volleys (a volley is a stroke that is played before the ball bounces). If the ball lands in the non-volley zone, or kitchen, the player can then step into that area and play the shot. Before playing a subsequent volley, however, it is necessary to get both feet back out of the zone.
The Service Areas
As mentioned earlier, there is a left and right service area on a pickleball court. Since the ball is served diagonally in this game, a player standing on the right side of the court to serve will hit toward the left service area, and vice versa. Only when the ball lands inside the service area is it considered a good serve – any serve that bounces outside of this area is a fault.
The modest size of a pickleball court makes this game approachable for many people. Where tennis can be intimidating with how much court there is to cover – especially in singles – pickleball shrinks everything down and maximizes the fun of playing shots back and forth with your friends.