Is There Such a Thing as Pickleball Etiquette?

A question was sent asking about court etiquette. Whether you are new to racquet sports or a seasoned player, we all know there are a few actions we should all follow to respect the other players on the court.

Pickleball is a “social” sport. This generally means that pickleball is as much about interacting and socializing with people as it is about physical activity and competition. This “social” culture around pickleball is one defining characteristic of the sport itself. In connection with this unique culture, it is important to understand some “pickleball etiquette” tips before hitting the pickleball court. These include:

  • Introduce Yourself to New Players – Before starting a pickleball game with new people, be sure to introduce yourself to others.
  • Do Not Cross a Pickleball Court During a Point – Avoid crossing over a pickleball court when a point is ongoing. This includes avoiding entering the baseline area or the sideline area.
  • Do Not Make Excessive Noise or Commotion on the Courts – This includes screaming or yelling at people outside of the courts or to other players more than one court away. Nobody wants to wait for you to finish yelling at other court members (especially if they are outside of the pickleball courts). When you start yelling/screaming everything on the courts usually stops due to your disruption.
  • Know the Rules – Do your best to know and understand the rules of pickleball. This will help avoid disputes on the pickleball court and ensure that everyone is playing by the same set of rules.
  • Bring Your Own Ball – Do not rely on other players to always bring the pickleball. Have your own stash! Also, when a pickleball rolls onto your court, avoid switching the pickleball with your own. Keep the pickleball that you or your court is playing with—most players are particular about their ball. 
  • Call the Score Loudly – When you are serving, be sure to call the score loudly so that all players on the pickleball court can hear you.
  • Call “Ball on Court” If the Ball Is Actually on the Court – For safety reasons, if you see a stray pickleball roll on your court, stop play and call “Ball on Court.” This is a hindrance and you should replay the point. However, do not abuse this calling to help you avoid losing points (for more on this, check out Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: Ball on Court).
  • Allow the Players to Make the Calls – If you are a spectator, avoid the urge to make the call, including line calls. Allow the players on the pickleball court to make the call.
  • Keep the Coaching to Yourself – Only provide coaching advice when asked. Be wary of coaching other players on the pickleball court, as they may not want to hear any unsolicited advice.
  • Welcome New Players and Play with Weaker Players Every So Often – The culture of pickleball is welcoming, so, in recreational play, do not be afraid to welcome new player onto your court. Also, if you are a stronger player, consider playing with weaker players from time to time, as they will greatly appreciate your game and you may have an opportunity to work on a specific skill or shot. By welcoming new players and helping weaker players, the sport of pickleball will grow in number and in talent.
  • Don’t Play Keep Away in Recreational Play – If you are a weaker player that is able to play with a stronger player, avoid the urge to play keep away from the stronger player. Hit more shots to the stronger player for the opportunity to improve your pickleball game and to keep the stronger player willing to play with you more! Also, do not outwear your welcome with the stronger player. Play a few games and say thank you.
  • Sorry for Let Cords and Praise for Good Shots – This one is probably “common practice,” but not universal. If a pickleball hits the net, then, oftentimes, the striking team will win the point because the net will throw off the expected trajectory of the pickleball. In this instance, the striking team will usually say “Sorry” or give a casual wave to non-verbally signal an apology (this “tradition” seemingly comes from tennis). With that said, the striking team really is never “Sorry,” but rather excited to win the point. Similarly, you may also see hand claps or “thumbs up” for good shots by opponents in recognition of good play. These are common on-court gestures, but not universal.
  • Practice Good Sportsmanship – Fair play and good sportsmanship are cornerstones of pickleball. Be sure to respect and practice both. (For instance, if you know that you were in the Kitchen when you hit a volley, call a Kitchen violation on yourself. Or, if you hit someone with the pickleball—particularly, in the face, like Matt Wright did to Jessie Irvine—ask if they are okay or apologize, rather than screaming “Come on!” or “Yeah!” in excitement at your body/face attack.)
  • Practice the Golden Rule – As in life, treat others the way that you want to be treated. Be nice to others and have fun on the pickleball court! 
  • “Paddle Tap” After Every Game – After every game, players meet at the pickleball net to tap pickleball paddles – either with the head or butt of the pickleball paddle. When paddle tapping, also consider giving your opponents a compliment – for instance, “great game.”


If you’ve been more tired than normal, maybe have a nagging headache, wake up at night with leg cramps, feel a little dizzy – there’s a good chance you are dehydrated. There are some things you can do prior to outdoor physical activity, to try and prevent dehydration:

  • Drink 2, 8 oz. glasses of water first thing when you wake up!
  • Try to drink 2 to 3 more glasses of water prior to playing.
  • Sports drinks help replace lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium (the cause of those pesky muscle cramps). If you don’t like the drinks, there are edible goodies for electrolyte replacement.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables – they are not only rich in nutrients, but they also have a high water content. Oranges are great to grab and eat on your way to the courts!
  • Know common signs of heat exhaustion:
    • *Dizzy, light headed
    • *Flushed skin
    • *Headache
    • *Weakness
    • *Nausea
    • *Confusion

These symptoms are early signs of heat exhaustion. Stop and get off the court immediately! Cool down, hydrate and rest, and you have an excellent chance of recovering in 15 to 20 minutes (NOOOO, that does NOT mean you’ll be ready to get back on the pickleball court!!). If you do not address the issue quickly, you can easily end up with heat stroke, at which point you will require medical intervention.

To assist a person experiencing heat exhaustion:

  • ++Apply ice to neck and groin – the carotid and femoral arteries are the
    • largest arteries and move the most blood.
      • By icing in these areas, you will help cool down the blood as it circulates through the body.
    • ++Encourage them to drink fluids, even if they feel nauseous. Fluid replacement is essential!
    • ++If possible, move them to a cool area.
      • At the Rymer Pickleball Complex, the bathrooms are air conditioned. Take them there, where their body will have a chance to cool down.

Most people suffering from heat exhaustion should feel somewhat better within 10 to 15 minutes – not ready for Pickleball – but able to walk to a car. It is always a good idea to discourage driving after a heat related incident.


On a daily basis, know how much fluid your body needs. A basic equation for finding out how much fluid you should be drinking is to divide your body weight by 2, and drink that much water! For example, a 150 lb.person would need 150/2 = 75 ounces of water per day, which is about nine, 8 oz. cups!

What does water do for your body?

“Between about 55% to 78% of your body is made of water. Newborn babies are about 78% water, a year-old baby is 65%, adult men are about 60% and adult women are about 55%. Your brain is made up of 73% water, and so is your heart. Your bones are 31% water, muscles and kidneys are 79% and your skin is 64%. A whopping 83% of water makes up your lungs.

Water helps:

  • Aid digestion and get rid of waste.
  • Work your joints. Water lubricates them.
  • Make saliva (which you need to eat).
  • Balance your body’s chemicals. Your brain needs it to create hormones and neurotransmitters.
  • Deliver oxygen all over your body.
  • Cushion your bones.
  • Regulate your body temperature.
  • Act as a shock absorber for your brain and your spinal cord.

Water is important to your body, especially in warm weather. It keeps your body from overheating. When you exercise, your muscles generate heat. To keep from burning up, your body needs to get rid of that heat. The main way the body discards heat in warm weather is through sweat. As sweat evaporates, it cools the tissues beneath. Lots of sweating reduces the body’s water level, and this loss of fluid affects normal bodily functions.” From the Cleveland Clinic


Submitted by Deb Chiarello, VP SJPA


– rules that you won’t find in any official pickleball tournament handbook or rulebook.

  1. When somebody inadvertently hits a ball onto your court from an adjacent court, retrieve it and toss them that same ball that they hit onto your court. Don’t switch balls. I repeat, don’t switch balls. 
  2. When retrieving a ball from an adjacent court, make eye contact with someone from that court and then directly toss or hit them the ball. Don’t just hit the ball back into their court without looking. That’s very annoying!
  3. If your ball rolls on to the court next to you, shout out, “BALL, BALL ON COURT.” They could be in the heat of battle and did not see the ball, causing an extremely dangerous situation. OR, they just plainly do not see the ball because they are concentrating on THEIR game. Be courteous and let them know YOUR ball is on their court. SAFETY!
  4. Don’t play keep away from the best player on the other team during rec play just so you can win – they want to play too!
  5. Don’t cross the court behind a match until play has stopped. It’s not only rude, but it can be very dangerous as well.
  6. Don’t chest-bump or be excessive in the celebration when your opponent makes an error. If, on the other hand, you or your partner made a great play…Same goes for the “spectators.” Please don’t clap or cheer when the opposing player misses an easy shot.
  7. If you are obviously the weakest player on the court, thank the other players for playing with you after the game. However, don’t take advantage of their graciousness by staying on the court for an indefinite period of time. More than a game or two will undoubtedly wear out your welcome.
  8. If you are asked to play with a group that is obviously of a lower skill level than you, graciously accept and play a game or two with them. They will likely appreciate your graciousness and understand that you want to get back to similarly-skilled players after the game.
  9. If you are obviously the strongest person in your foursome, tone down the competitiveness and hit your opponent’s balls that they can return. Work on a new skill – perhaps it’s a great time for work on that third shot drop shot.
  10. In rec play, don’t exploit someone’s physical limitations just so you can “win.” Not cool!
  11. When somebody inadvertently hits a ball onto your court from an adjacent court, retrieve it and toss them that same ball that they hit onto your court. Don’t switch balls. I repeat, don’t switch balls.
  12. When retrieving a ball from an adjacent court, make eye contact with someone from that court and then directly toss or hit them the ball. Don’t just hit the ball back into their court without looking. That’s very annoying!
  13. Encourage everyone to stay hydrated.
  14. If you and your partner can’t determine if the ball was in or out – or if you disagree with your partner on a line call – the benefit of the doubt goes to your opponent. Wait! That’s actually an “official” rule!


Q: Positions during serve- When you are serving, must your partner be behind the back line? Is it a rule? Thanks :)

A: When serving, your partner should be back with you…behind the line, but not required, and it is not a rule, but it is a strategic and wise choice to be back and is a defensive move.

The reason being:
The opponents will almost always want to return the ball deep, they want to keep you deep and they do not want your team (serving team) to get to the net. The main goal is to return the serve deep to keep the serving team at the baseline; power is not as important as control. A short return brings the serving team forward, allowing them to reach the non-volley zone (kitchen) line and negating the receiving team’s advantage. 

The net is where points are won. If your partner is inside the base line (server must be behind the base line). That becomes a target for your opponents. Hit the ball hard and deep to that person (your partner) because your partner will be out of position when the ball is hit at their feet, and the serving team MUST LET THE BALL BOUNCE – definitely compromising your position when accepting the return.

Additionally, you and your partner should always be in concert together. As if you were both holding on to a broomstick. You need to work together, move together forward and back, and left to right. You are forming a wall fighting your opponents.

Around the Post (ATP)

What an interesting ball return. You’re dinking in the non-volley zone. The ball goes wider and wider, and the next thing you know you are pulled way off the court for an unbelievable get. But instead of returning the ball in a dink fashion back across the net, you are so wide and so low off the court you look up and see an open shot to the rear, baseline section of the opponent’s court. BAM! you just hit your first ATP.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

11.K.1. A ball contacting the net, the net cable, or rope
between the net posts remains in play.
11.L. The Net.
11.L.1. The net and the wires or strings holding up the net
are positioned (mostly) on the court. Therefore, if the
ball strikes the top of the net or strikes the top net
wire or string and lands inbounds, it remains in play.
11.L.2. If the ball travels between the net and the net post, it
is a fault against the striking player.

Our Opponent Dropped Their Paddle on the Court During Play, Do They Lose the Point?

Thanks for posing this question, which is a very good question and it is always best to discuss these things outside of play.

11.H. Items on the Court. If any item a player is/was wearing or
carrying lands on their side of the court, unless the item
lands in the non-volley zone as a result of a volley, the ball
remains in play even if it hits the item.

But remember, no part of you or anything that has contact with you, including your : hat, paddle, etc., may touch the non-volley zone while in the act of volleying.

9.B. It is a fault if the volleying player or anything that has contact
with the volleying player while in the act of volleying,
touches the non-volley zone. For players using wheelchairs,
the front (smaller) wheels may touch the non-volley zone.
9.B.1. The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the
follow-through, and the momentum from the action.
9.B.2. If the paddle touches the non-volley zone during the
volley motion, before or after contacting the ball, it is
a fault.

The #1 Move to AVOID in Pickleball

What is the #1 Move to Avoid in Pickleball? This is a great question and of course, there are many good answers, but this was an answer that Scott Hettinger provided.

Do you want to be a better player? Do you want to move from2.5 to 3.0, 3.0 to 3.5, 3.5 to 4.0 or 4.0 to 4.5? Do you want to be a successful doubles pickleball partner?  HERE IS THE NUMBER ONE MOVE TO AVOID…………….

                                                          The Eye Roll

So… your partner popped it up for the 5th time… your partner hammered the ball into the net… again… your partner hits that easy kill shot into the parking lot… etc., etc., etc. We’ve all been there. Resist the urge to give the EYE ROLL. Your partner is doing their best. They didn’t try to pop it up, slam it into the net or crack a windshield in the parking lot. Give them some encouragement. They already feel bad about it. They are doing their best at that moment.  

It certainly isn’t going to improve their play by giving the condescending EYE ROLL or other disparaging moves like mumbling under your breath or dropping your head in disgust.  How about we tell them “No worries you’ll get the next one. That was a tough shot, keep at it you’re doing ok! Good try on that one. You’ll get it.”   Just remember… if you are the best 3.0 and move up to the 3.5 level, you aren’t the best anymore. You are probably starting out at the bottom of that next level.  You might be the one popping it up, hitting the net or the back fence for a while. Do you now want to be on the receiving end of that EYE ROLL? I think not!!!

So, let’s all remember that pickleball is for fun. We aren’t making a living off of it. We are playing with all our friends and neighbors, and we enjoy their company. Don’t lose sight of that fact. Be a better partner. Be a better player. Be a better friend. Just a thought for your day………………….

Scott Hettinger

Every time My Partner Calls the Wrong Score the Opposing Team Says We Must Replay That Point.

Funny how we can’t remember who served, even after we just served. Of course, who can remember the score? But how should we handle it when the opposing team calls the wrong score?

Wrong Score Called (4.K)
The rules concerning what happens if the wrong score is called by
a player or a referee have changed. If a player thinks a wrong
score has been called, a player may stop play to ask for a
correction before the ball is served.

If it has been served, the rally is to be played out and the score correction (if any) is made before the next serve occurs.

My Partner Yelled, “OUT.” The Ball Then Landed In and My Partner Yelled, “No, it’s IN.” The Opposing Team Said You Called It Out.

Well, as confusing as it may be, this happens all the time. Let me read what the rule book states:

6.D.11. While the ball is in the air, if a player yells “out,” “no,”
“bounce it,” or any other words to communicate to
their partner that the ball may be out, it shall be
considered player communication only and not
considered a line call.
6.D.12. An “out” call made after the ball bounces is a line call.
The ball is dead and play shall stop. If, upon appeal,
the referee overrules any type of “out” call, it is a fault
against the player or team that made the “out” call.
Exception: If the match has line judges, the baseline
and sideline judges are responsible for the call. (See
Rule 13.E.2)

NOTE: we also mention this in a previous post from last year, further down in the posts.

New Rules added for 2022: NO Chainsaw serves, NO Swearing!!!

It’s a new year, and that means new pickleball rules. Every January, USA Pickleball issues an updated rulebook. If you cuss during your games, wear headphones, carry more than one ball, or have been using a chainsaw serve, get ready to adjust your play this year. Here are some key things to know about how the game is changing in 2022.

No headphones or earbuds during competition play

These devices have been banned because they could allow players to receive coaching during the match. Another reason for the rule? Player safety — earbuds can be dropped on the court and cause an injury hazard. Also, USA Pickleball says such devices can prevent players from hearing calls or the score, thereby causing potential delays to explain or repeat calls that were not heard. Note: Hearing aids are still allowed.

Spinning the ball on a serve

In 2021, many players experimented with the so-called “chainsaw” serve. In this move, the server rolls the ball against the paddle, sometimes even including the grip, as the ball is being tossed. Then the player hits the fast-spinning ball to finish the serve. The intense spin on the ball can make it kick left, right, up or down.

In 2022, this move has been banned. But you can still put “finger spin” on a serve. The new rules say server can use only one hand to release the ball to perform the serve. If the ball is visibly spun by the server during the release, the part(s) of the hand contacting the ball must be bare (no gloves, band-aids, etc.).

Moreover, the receiver (and referee, if there is one) must be able to see the server’s release of the ball. 

Example: A server is wearing a glove on her hand that releases the ball, but she has removed the glove material allowing the thumb and first two fingers (that touch the ball) to be exposed and add spin to the ball. The referee lets this glove be used.

Extra balls

In officiated matches, you’re not allowed to carry an extra ball on the court. However, in social play, USA Pickleball says you may carry a spare ball. However, the balls are not to be visible to your opponent during play. And if one of your extra balls falls on the playing surface during play, that’s considered a fault.

Example: A player is carrying an extra ball in his pocket. During a rally, the ball falls out of his pocket but lands out of bounds. The opponents claim a distraction fault, but the player who dropped the ball contends that because the ball landed out of bounds and not on the actual court, it is not a fault. The player who dropped the ball is wrong; the opponents are correct that a distraction fault has occurred.

Multiple bounces before a serve

USA Pickleball is clarifying this year that on a serve, there is no restriction how many times the ball can bounce nor where it can bounce on the playing surface before the server hits it. 

The intent of this rule is to let the ball bounce as many times as the server chooses before he strikes the ball to perform the serve, as long as the serve is made within 10 seconds after the score is called. The rule also clarifies that the ball may bounce anywhere on the playing surface before it is hit to perform the serve.


There are a number of new rules about how and when referees can issue warnings for foul language.  

Previously, a referee was allowed to issue one “global warning” per match for use of profanity. When the warning was issued, it was made generally to all players — not just the potty mouths. Now, a referee may give each team a single verbal warning per match. Refs can also give technical warnings and fouls for bad language, which can cost you a point. Refs are not supposed to stop play to issue warnings or fouls, but they are to mete them out once a rally has ended. Check out these examples:

  • Team A receives a verbal warning for uttering an expletive.  Later in the match, a player on Team B   says the same word. The referee may give a verbal warning to Team B regardless of the prior verbal warning issued to Team A.
  • The referee calls a non-volley zone fault on a player who enters the kitchen when he was not permitted to. After the rally is over, the faulted player walks by the referee and without looking directly at the referee says, “That was a bull—- call.”  The referee may issue a verbal warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • Team A gets a verbal warning for a specific profanity. A player on Team B later says the same word, but more loudly. The referee gives a technical warning to Team B. Team B asks why they did not receive a verbal warning the same as Team A. The referee may explain that their volume was greater and verbal and technical warnings are based on referee discretion.
  • A player utters a profanity, and the referee issues a technical warning. The player protests and says the ref should have issued a verbal warning first. The referee reminds the player that there is no requirement that a verbal warning always be issued before a technical warning or technical foul.
  • While players are warming up before the referee’s pre-match briefing, one player loudly calls an opponent an “[expletive] cheater.” The referee issues a technical foul for extreme profanity and issues a point to the opponents before the match has started. 

Easy way to avoid all these warnings and fouls? Don’t swear during games!  If you are looking for ways to re-train your mouth, consider during drills or practice play deducting points for each bon mot uttered. Or, keep a “swear jar” and a roll of coins on the sidelines; deposit a fee for each infraction and your opponent keeps the money. Finally, if you have an Apple Watch or similar device, you can keep track of how many bad words were blurted out during the game by keeping a running tally with Siri. 

To see the full list of new pickleball rules, visit For a complete set of rules, visit

A Few More Questions Have Come in About Line Calls

“Code of Ethics” for Line Calls in Pickleball

  1. Only make line calls on your side of the pickleball court and always strive for accuracy.
  2. Only call ‘”out” balls when space is clearly visible between the line and where the pickleball lands.
  3. Call “out” ball promptly.
  4. Use voice and/or hand signals to call “out” balls.
  5. Give the benefit of doubt to your opponents.
  6. If you and your partner disagree, then the ball is “in”.
  7. Spectators should not make any line calls, especially if this is at a match.
  8. Do not question opponents’ line calls unless there is a referee.
  9. You may ask your opponents to make a line call (but then you give up your right to make the call and, if you opponents cannot make the call, the call is automatically ruled “in”.
  10. AN “out” call prior to the pickleball bouncing will be deemed partner communication and not a line call.
  11. You may overrule a line call that is to your disadvantage (and in favor of your opponents) at any time.

We Are Just Beginners, What Are The Rules?

Well, that is a good question, but could require a long answer. Let’s start with a few basic rules and then you can build on these.

10 Must Know Pickleball Rules

  1. The serve must be underhand.
  2. Both the serve and the return of serve must bounce.
  3. The first side to serve in doubles pickleball only has one serve: then, each side has two serves.
  4. Only the serving team can score points, and the serving team switches side of the court after each point won.
  5. The serve must call the score loudly before each serve.
  6. No volleys are allowed in the Non-Volley Zone (also known as the Kitchen).
  7. Shots after the pickleball bounces are allowed in the Non-Volley Zone.
  8. Shots on the lines of the pickleball court are generally “in”, with one exception – the Non-Volley Zone line on the serve (because it is considered part of the Non-Volley Zone).
  9. “Out” calls are made by the pickleball players on the side of the pickleball court where the pickleball bounces.
  10. If the pickleball hits you, then you lose the rally.

The #1 Move to AVOID in Pickleball

Court Sign-up

If you are not using a court you reserved, remember to delete your sign up.  Folks are complaining about empty courts that are reserved.  Your friends are also trying to organize a time to play.

Participating in Events

Events are planned based on your committed registration. If you cannot make this commitment for the full 1.5 hours due to scheduling or for health reasons, please cancel your registration.

Hey, Al, What Did Bob Say About The Pickleball Ten Commandments?

Good question, one Bob spoke these divine words:

  1. Thou shalt have no other sport before it. Thou shalt not make for thyself a softball diamond, a football field, a basketball court, a ski run, an ice-hockey rink or any likeness of any sport that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not admire them or train for them; for Pickleball is a jealous sport, punishing for generations those who confuse it with tennis but showing steadfast improvement to those who love it and keep its commandments.
  2. Thou shalt not curse thy opponent nor hold him in contempt for placing the ball out of thy reach; neither shalt thou blaspheme thy partner for missing the shot down the middle, which was clearly his forehand.
  3. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it fun. six days you practice, and do all your drills; but the seventh day is an amusement day to Pickleball; in it thou shalt not beat thyself up nor allow thy sons or daughters or spouses or the new person who joined the Church just this week to force feelings of inadequacy upon you; for, while for six days Pickleball may have handed thee thine buttocks upon a platter, it has blessed the sabbath day and made it blissful.
  4. Honor thy coach and his spouse, that your invitations to return may be plentiful.
  5. Thou shalt not kill the pickleball either by striking it too high and thus sending it to the neighbor’s yard or too low and propelling it mightily into the net; for the pickleball is a marshmallow and must be dinked with softness and suppleness and, above all, self-control.
  6. Thou shalt not commit schadenfreude; neither openly by shouting “YES!” and pumping thy fist when thy opponent blunders his return, nor in thy heart, nor even in a small, gleeful upturning of the corners of thy mouth.
  7. Thou shalt not poach from thy backhand position.
  8. The shalt not bear false witness against the landing of the ball on the wrong side of the line; neither shalt thou bear ANY witness to its placement if thou be on the other side of the net.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy opponent’s partner. Be thee satisfied with whosoever has been randomly paired with you and communicate often with them.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy opponent’s paddle, or his shoes, or his coordinating clothing ensemble, or his ox or ass, or anything that is your opponent’s. These earthly things will not make purchase of thy game; keep thy head clear, thy feet emancipated, and thy paddle prepared.

The ball is in the air. Your partner yells “out.” The ball lands in. However, your opponents stop playing because of the “out” call. What’s the call?

This scenario plays out seemingly all the time on the pickleball courts. Luckily it is explicitly addressed in the pickleball rulebook where it states that calling the ball out before it bounces is considered partner communication. Therefore, the ball can still be played if it lands in.

Yelling “out” after the ball bounces, on the other hand, is considered a line call that ends the rally.  In this case, the “out” call was made before it bounced. Therefore, the rally continues. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.