Pickleball Terms & Phrases: Your Pickleball What-To-Say Guide

Being on a Pickleball court is an electrifying experience! You’ve bought you Pickleball Paddle & you’re ready to play. The only problem you have is that everyone’s having so much fun and bandying around words that make no sense to you – especially if you’re someone who’s just started playing Pickleball! While there are a few words that you’ll understand, the rest of Pickleball terms & phrases can be confusing.Pickleball questions answered so you can be a better player

Origins of Pickleball Terms & Phrases

With Pickleball originating from tennis, badminton and ping pong, there’s quite a bit of overlap in the terminology used. Words such as ace, crosscourt and deep have similar meanings in both tennis and Pickleball. However, as the game developed and became more popular, the jargon that defined service, rules and play also evolved such that Pickleball terms & phrases is now quite unique from the origins the game began with!

Let’s take a look at some of the Pickleball terminology used today.

Common Pickleball Terminology

Ace

An ace is a serve made in Pickleball that the opposite player doesn’t return.

Dink

A dink is among the most common term used in Pickleball. It’s when you hit the ball so it barely clears the net and falls into the no volley zone. This shot is very difficult to return and can easily give you points! One of the best compliments in Pickleball is to be called a great dinker – weird but true!

Serve 

A serve is the first hit of the ball to start off the point. In Pickleball, serves are underhanded and below the waist. 

Drive 

A drive is a shot that is hit directly to the opposite player’s backcourt. A drive is a low shot, and difficult to return. Drives are difficult to carry out but easy to get points on.

Volley

A volley is when the ball is hit before it can bounce on the court. Volleys generally make up to 70 percent of any Pickleball game.

Side- Out 

A side-out happens when the serve moves to the opposite player.

Baseline

A baseline is the line that denotes the end of the court and is parallel to the net. It is 22 feet away from the net.

Sideline

This line defines the length of the court – It is 44 feet long and is at a ninety degree angle from the net-posts.

Centerline

The centerline is the line that dissects the court into two lengthwise. It starts from the middle of the baseline and goes perpendicularly down towards the net up to the kitchen line.

Crosscourt

The crosscourt is the quadrant opposite to the player that’s serving. This is where the service should be aimed towards.

Around-the-post

Around-the-post is commonly used by referees in Pickleball tournaments to indicate a shot that goes around the net posts, thus allowing it to stay low – below the net height.

Erne

Erne is when a volley is done by a player who is either positioned outside the court or has both feet off the court towards the outside of the court. This move is only legal if the player hits the ball closer to the net without entering the non-valley zone.

Fault

This is the most commonly heard word in a Pickleball match. A fault occurs when the rules of service or play are not followed, and leads to an end of the rally.

Kitchen

The non-volley zone in a Pickleball court is also known as the kitchen. There’s no volleying in the kitchen, which is an area of 22 feet by 7 feet on both sides of the net. Players can only enter the kitchen to hit a ball once it bounces.

Poach

Poaching can only occur in doubles, when one player crosses over to the partner’s side to hit the ball when their partner is in a position to execute the shot themselves.

Rally

In Pickleball, the main play is the rally. This is a continuous play of the ball until there’s a fault.

Lob

Lob is a word also used in tennis. It means hitting the ball in a high arc towards the back of the opposite player’s court. It’s ideal for getting a point especially when the opposite player has advanced quite a bit towards the front of the court.

Foot Fault

A foot fault occurs when a player steps into the kitchen or on the kitchen line when volleying the ball. It also happens when a player who is serving doesn’t have both feet behind the baseline with one foot planted on the ground while serving.

Net Serve

When a player serves but the ball touches the top of the net and lands in the crosscourt, then this is called a net serve. A net serve is replayed.

Non-Volley Zone

The kitchen is also known as the non-volley zone. This is the area of 22 feet by 7 feet on both sides of the net where volleying is not allowed.

Half-Volley

A half-volley is a move by the receiving player where the ball is hit immediately after bouncing in a scoop-like fashion. It’s almost like a volley, only the ball bounced before it could be hit!

Like its name, most terms in Pickleball have their share of funny and weird! However, if you’re learning to play Pickleball, you need to pick up on this terminology so you can understand the game better!

As a spectator to the sport, you’ll be able to know what’s happening around you at any Pickleball tournament!


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