On Jan. 25th 2021, the 2020 rule-book will be terminated. To ensure consistency, 2021 tournaments that begin play before Jan. 25th should play the entirety of their tournament using the 2020 rule-book. If the tournament begins on Jan. 25th or thereafter, the 2021 rule-book must be used. For a copy of the 2020 USAPA-Rulebook contact us.

2021 Rules

Pickleball is a paddle sport played using a special perforated ball on a 20-foot-by-44-foot court with a tennis-type net. The court is divided into right/even and left/odd service courts and non-volley zones. See Figure 2-1.

The ball is served diagonally across the net to the opponent’s service court using an underhand motion. The ball is struck back and forth across the net until a player fails to return the ball in accordance with the rules.

Points are scored only by the serving side, when the server or the server’s team wins the rally, or the opposing side commits a fault. The server continues to serve, alternating service courts, until the serving side loses the rally or commits a fault.

Typically, the first side scoring 11 points and leading by at least a 2-point margin wins. For example, if both sides are tied at 10 points, then play continues until one side wins by 2 points.

Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles. Doubles is the most popular.

New 2021: The Players
Pickleball is a game that requires cooperation and courtesy. A sense of fair play from giving the opponent the benefit of any doubt is essential in maintaining the game’s underlying principles of fun and competition. To that end:

  • All points played are treated the same regardless of their importance; match point is as important as the first point of the match
  • Either partner in doubles can make calls, especially line calls; there is no place in the game for one partner telling another, “that was my call, not yours”
  • Prompt calls eliminate the ‘two chance option’. For example, a player cannot claim a hinder from a ball rolling on the court after they hit a ball ‘out’; they gave up their ability to call the hinder by choosing instead to hit the ball
  • Players without the benefit of a referee strive to cooperate when confronted with a situation not covered by the Rulebook. Possible outcomes can be a replay, allowing the rally to stand, or in extreme cases, asking for a referee to resolve a dispute.

Reason: This general guideline outlines the basic fair play concepts of pickleball. Although they are quoted often, they are now in print for everyone to read.


Two-Bounce Rule. After the ball is served, each side must make one groundstroke prior to volleying the ball.

Non-Volley Zone (NVZ). An area that extends 7 feet from the net on each side, within which a player is not allowed to strike the ball without it first bouncing.

(Wheelchair) A wheelchair player may allow the ball to bounce twice before returning the ball. The second bounce can be anywhere on the playing surface.

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