Are you new to the world of pickleball? If so, you may have heard some words that you don’t quite understand.

That’s why we put together this comprehensive list of the top 20+ pickleball terms every beginner should know. Read on to learn all about the vocabulary associated with this sport!


An ace is a point won by one player after their serve passes over the net and lands in bounds without being touched by the receiving team.


The baseline is the back boundary line of each side of the court.


The centerline is a line running through the middle of a pickleball court, dividing it into two equal halves. It helps players keep track of their position on the court during play and serves as a reference for serving and returning shots.

Dead Ball

A dead ball occurs when a shot does not reach any part of the court or goes out of bounds during the play.

Dink Shot

A dink shot is an underhanded return that uses soft wrist action and precise placement over placement to control where it lands on your opponent’s non-volley zone of the court. The dink shot is a shot hit with a subtle and consistent forward swing, giving it more control than power.

It is used often in doubles games to frustrate opponents who are expecting harder shots from their opponents.

Double Bounce Rule

The double bounce rule is one of the most essential pickleball terms that every beginner should understand.

Both teams are required to observe the double bounce rule — this means that after one team serves, the opposing team must let the ball bounce and when they return it, the serving team must then let it bounce before they can hit the ball.

This ensures that each team has an equal chance of making a strong hit during their turn.

Double Hit

In pickleball, a double hit occurs when the same team hits the pickleball twice before it makes it over the net. This type of shot can occur due to either one player hitting it twice or both players on a team executing a hit.


Pickleball doubles is an exciting, fast-paced game that is played between two teams of four people. Teams can be configured with men, women, or a mix of both genders.

Drop Shot Volley

A drop shot volley occurs when one player volleys (hits) a soft shot that goes straight down over the net and drops directly onto their opponent's side of the court without bouncing first, typically done near or inside their non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen).

This can be very effective at disrupting your opponent's rally while also scoring points if they are unable to return it successfully before it bounces twice on their side.


Whenever pickleball rules are not followed, it results in a fault – an action where play is stopped because of rule violation.

Half volley

Half volley is an advanced pickleball shot that requires skill and precision. It can be a difficult ball to control due to the fact that the ball bounces once before it is hit, but does not reach its full height.

A successful half-volley comes off with precision and finesse; you must hit the ball immediately before it reaches its full height. Players must use great timing and accuracy in order to effectively execute a half volley.


The non-volley zone extends 7 feet from either side of the net on a pickleball court. Players cannot volley any shots inside this area.

Breaking this rule would be considered a foot fault; it's best to stay out of the kitchen unless you are hitting the ball from outside the kitchen.


Pickleball has a rule for when the served ball hits the net, but still goes over and lands inbounds. This occurrence is called a "let", and it means that the serve must be replayed, similar to how it is done in tennis.


A lob is a pickleball shot in which one player hits the ball high into the air towards their opponent's backcourt, with the intention for the ball to bounce twice before crossing over the net again (or out-of-bounds), making it difficult for another team to return the successfully before doing so; often used as defense strategy since lobs require skillful accuracy and timing in order for them not land out-of-bounds; also sometimes referred as “sky ball” or “moonball” among players who use this technique frequently during matches!


The midcourt area is located between both baseline boundaries, extending up until service lines located farther back from the net; this area provides ample opportunity for players looking to take advantage of higher trajectory shots due to its larger size compared to the rest court.

Non-Volley Zone (NVZ)

Also commonly referred “kitchen” NVZ marks an area 7 feet closest edge net which players must avoid volleying from; any volleyed balls within NVZ will result in an instant loss point.


OPA! is sometimes shouted out after a third shot has been hit. This call signifies that open volleying has begun and encourages players to quickly enter into the defensive and offensive positions needed for successful play.


The server shouts out 'pickle!' as a warning before they start to serve, alerting all players on the court to be ready and prepare themselves for an incoming shot.


To serve, a player stands behind the baseline and hits a passing shot so it passes over the non-volley line before bouncing in the opposite court.

It is important to note that an overhead shot is illegal during pickleball serves. The serve needs to be executed underhand, below waist level, and within two attempts.

It is important to keep the pickleball paddle head low as it contacts the ball. All points start with a serve from either side of the court and therefore it's vitally important to have a good serve.

Service Court

The areas diagonally opposite each other on either side of the center line where serve must land in order for them to be considered legal. The serve must clear the net and bounce in this area for the serve to be valid and initiate continuous play.


When only two people compete against each other on a pickleball court.

Volley shot

A shot where the ball is struck before it touches the ground. Volleys are usually used to keep up the momentum during a rally and can be both offensive or defensive in nature.

Volley Llama

This is an illegal move during a game. Volley Llama is when a player hits a volley shot from within the Non-Volley Zone, which is considered a fault.


There you have it—the top 20+ pickleball terms you need to know before hitting serve! From ace to volley shot llama, understanding these words will help you understand what's going on when others around you are talking about pickleball.

With some practice, soon enough you'll be able to use these terms like a pro yourself! Now get out there and show off your newfound knowledge! Good luck!

Be sure to check out our other pickleball and sports & fitness blog posts!

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