Pickleball Rules For Doubles – Serving, Volleying, and Winning

Pickleball is a fast-paced and highly popular racquet sport, has gained immense popularity in recent years. One of the most exciting aspects of pickleball is the option to play doubles. While singles play is common, doubles play adds a whole new dimension to the sport, emphasizing teamwork, communication, and strategic positioning on the court.

In this article, we will delve into the rules and guidelines specifically tailored for pickleball doubles. Whether you are a beginner looking to understand the basics or a seasoned player aiming to brush up on the finer points, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge to excel in doubles play. Let’s explore the court requirements, serving and returning rules, scoring system, key strategies, and more to enhance your pickleball doubles experience.

Pickleball doubles is a variation of the popular paddle sport that is played with four players, divided into two teams. Each team consists of two players who stand on opposite sides of the pickleball court. The objective is to outscore the opposing team by hitting the pickleball over the net and landing it in the designated areas of the court. Doubles play adds an extra layer of strategy and teamwork to the game, making it an exciting and engaging experience.

Benefits of Playing Doubles

Playing pickleball doubles offers a range of benefits that make it a favorite among players. Firstly, it fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, as players must communicate and strategize with their partner to maximize their chances of winning. Doubles play also allows for more dynamic and varied shots, as players can set up their partner for powerful smashes or cleverly placed shots.

Additionally, doubles can be less physically demanding than singles play, as players can share the court and alternate shots, reducing the strain on individual players. Overall, pickleball doubles is a fantastic way to socialize, improve your skills, and have fun with friends or teammates.


Here is a summary of the pickleball rules for doubles

Pickleball Court Dimensions For Doubles

The pickleball court is a 20 feet by 44 feet rectangle, divided by a 7-foot non-volley zone, also known as “the kitchen“. The non-volley zone is located on either side of the net, and extends 7 feet from the net into the court.

Pickleball Net Height and Tension

The net height in pickleball doubles is set at 36 inches at the center and 34 inches at the sidelines. It is essential to maintain the proper tension of the net for a consistent playing experience.

Pickleball Serving Rules In Doubles

  • The serve must be made underhand with the paddle below the waist.
  • The serve must be hit diagonally crosscourt, and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal service area.
  • The server must have one foot behind the baseline and within the imaginary extension of the sideline.
  • Only one serve attempt is allowed per server.
Tips and Strategies For Improving Serve Accuracy And Consistency

1- Proper Service Technique

When serving in pickleball doubles, the server must stand behind the baseline and diagonally across from their partner. The serve is made underhand, with the paddle below the server’s waist. The ball must be struck below the server’s waist and should clear the net and land within the designated service area on the opponent’s court. The serve must be made diagonally and must not touch the net during the serve.

2- Restrictions on Serving

Certain restrictions apply to serving in pickleball doubles. The server must ensure that both feet remain behind the baseline until the ball is struck. Additionally, the serve cannot touch the non-volley zone or the kitchen lines on the opponent’s side of the court. If a serve violates any of these rules, it results in a fault and the serve is replayed.

3- Restrictions on Serving

Certain restrictions apply to serving in pickleball doubles. The server must ensure that both feet remain behind the baseline until the ball is struck. Additionally, the serve cannot touch the non-volley zone or the kitchen lines on the opponent’s side of the court. If a serve violates any of these rules, it results in a fault and the serve is replayed.

4- Rules for Returning the Serve

When returning a serve in pickleball doubles, the receiving team must let the ball bounce once on their side of the court before hitting it. After the bounce, players can either hit the ball directly or allow it to bounce again before striking it. It’s important to communicate with your partner to avoid confusion and ensure that both players are ready to return the serve. The return of serve should be aimed at the opponent’s side of the court, ideally away from their net player.

Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleball

Double Bounce Rule

The double bounce rule in pickleball is a game-changer. It states that each team must allow the ball to bounce once on each side before volleying it. Yep, you heard it right, no crazy ninja-like volleys right off the serve! This rule adds an extra layer of strategy and makes the game more exciting. So, get ready to unleash your volleying skills after that first bounce.

  • After the serve, both teams must let the ball bounce once on their side of the court before hitting it. This is known as the double bounce rule.
  • Once the double bounce rule has been fulfilled, teams can hit the ball off of a bounce, or volley it from the air.
  • Players are not allowed to stand in the non-volley zone on their side of the net unless the ball has already bounced once on their side.

1- Understanding the Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen)

Ah, the infamous kitchen. It’s not a place for cooking up gourmet meals, unfortunately. The non-volley zone, lovingly called the kitchen, is a 7-foot area on both sides of the net. You can’t volley the ball while standing inside this zone. You have to let it bounce first. It’s like an invisible forcefield, keeping the game fair and preventing players from getting too close to the net. Just remember, if your foot touches the kitchen while volleying, it’s an instant fault. So, keep those toes out of the kitchen!

2- Exceptions and Strategies for the Kitchen

Now, here’s the fun part. There are a couple of exceptions to the non-volley zone rule. You can step inside the kitchen to play a ball after it has bounced outside of it. But be careful, the moment that ball touches the inside of the kitchen, you’re back to the rule of letting it bounce. Another exception is when the ball is in the air, you can jump into the kitchen and smash it with all your might. Just make sure you clear the kitchen before any part of you touches it, or else it’s game over.


Pickleball Scoring Rules For Doubles

Pickleball doubles follow a straightforward scoring system. Only the serving team can score points. If the serving team wins a rally, they earn a point and the serve switches to the opposing team. Games are typically played to 11 or 15 points, and teams must win by a margin of two points. The team that reaches the designated winning score first is declared the winner of that game.

  • Only the serving team can score points.
  • A point is scored when the opposing team commits a fault, or when the ball hits the ground within the boundaries of the opposing team’s court.
  • The first team to reach 11 points, and be ahead by at least 2 points, wins the game.
  • If the score is tied at 10-10, the game continues until one team is ahead by 2 points.

1- Rotation and Positioning in Doubles Play

In pickleball doubles, players rotate positions each time their team regains the serve. The rotation is done counterclockwise, with the player in the left-hand court moving to the right-hand court, and the partner in the right-hand court shifting to the left-hand court. This rotation ensures fair play and allows all players to have an opportunity to serve and experience different positions on the court. Communication and coordination with your partner are crucial to ensure a smooth transition during rotations.


Some Common Faults In Pickleball Doubles

  • Hitting the ball into the net is a fault.
  • Hitting the ball twice in a row is a fault.
  • Touching the net with your body or paddle is a fault.
  • Hitting the ball outside of the court boundaries is a fault.
  • Volleying the ball from within the non-volley zone is a fault.

1- Faults in Serving and Returning

Nobody likes faults, especially in pickleball. Faults occur when you mess up the serve or return. Common serving faults include stepping on or over the baseline or not hitting the ball over the net. When it comes to returning, hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net will earn you a fault. And let’s not forget about foot faults, where you step into the kitchen prematurely. These little blunders may seem minor, but they can cost you precious points. So, practice those serves and returns to avoid these pesky faults.

Penalties for Rule Violations

Breaking the rules has consequences, my friend. In pickleball, rule violations can result in penalties. If you volley the ball from within the non-volley zone or volley before the ball bounces on both sides, it’s an instant fault. And if you get three faults in a row, well, that’s a point for the other team. So, play by the rules, or you might find yourself eating a sour pickle of defeat.


Also Check – How To Make A Pickleball Practice Wall?

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Understanding the Boundaries

In pickleball doubles, the boundaries are defined by the outer edges of the court. Any shot that lands within these boundaries is considered in-bounds, while shots that land outside are considered out-of-bounds.

Dealing with In-Bounds Shots

When the ball is in-bounds, players must return it before it bounces twice on their side of the court. Teamwork is crucial as players communicate and make split-second decisions on who will take each shot.

Handling Out-of-Bounds Shots

If the ball goes out-of-bounds, whether due to a missed shot or hitting the ball too hard, it results in a point for the opposing team. It’s important to practice control and accuracy to minimize such mistakes and keep the ball in play.

Remember, while rules are important, the most important part of pickleball doubles is having fun! Don’t be afraid to show off your personality and enjoy the game with your partner.


Communication and Strategy in Doubles Play

Effective Communication on the Court

When it comes to playing doubles in pickleball, communication is key. You and your partner need to be on the same page to maximize your chances of success. This means talking to each other during the game, letting each other know your intentions and coordinating your movements.

Remember, it’s not just about shouting “mine” or “yours” (although those certainly help). Effective communication also involves discussing your strategy before the game, exchanging tips and advice, and keeping each other motivated and positive.

Developing a Doubles Strategy

Having a solid game plan is crucial in doubles play. You and your partner should discuss and agree upon a strategy that suits your skills and playing style. Are you more aggressive or defensive? Do you prefer to play on the net or stay back? Understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses will help you come up with a winning game plan.

Consider the concept of “stacking,” where one player stands in front of the other to create an advantage on the court. You can also strategize how to attack your opponents’ weaknesses or exploit their patterns. Just make sure to adapt your strategy as the game progresses and be open to making changes if needed.


Mastering the Dink Shot

The dink shot is a delicate and strategic move that can catch your opponents off guard. It involves softly and precisely hitting the ball just over the net, forcing your opponents to make difficult returns. Mastering this shot can give you a significant advantage in doubles play.

Practice your dink shot by focusing on touch and finesse rather than power. Keep the ball low, aim for your opponent’s non-volley zone, and watch as they struggle to return your well-placed shots.

Utilizing the Third Shot Drop

third drop shot - Pickleball Rules For Doubles

The third shot drop is a crucial technique in doubles play, especially when returning serve. Instead of attempting a powerful return, opt for a softer shot that lands in your opponent’s non-volley zone. This forces them to hit the ball from a defensive position and provides you with an opportunity to move up to the net.

Remember, the third shot drop requires control and accuracy, so practice your touch shots to master this valuable technique. Learn how to master “third shot drop

Strategies for Effective Net Play

Playing at the net can be intimidating, but it’s also where the magic happens in doubles play. Practice your volleys to become a force to be reckoned with at the net. Aim to intercept and block your opponents’ shots, putting them on the defensive and controlling the tempo of the game.

Keep your paddles up, be ready to react, and communicate with your partner to cover the court effectively. With a solid net play strategy, you’ll be a formidable duo that your opponents will struggle to overcome.


Pickleball Rules For Doubles
RulesSinglesDoubles
ServingOne serve per playerEach player on the serving team gets one serve
ScoringEither team can score pointsOnly the serving team can score points
PositioningPlayers typically position themselves in the center of the courtPlayers typically position themselves so that one player is closer to the net and the other player is further back
StrategyPlayers need to be able to cover the entire court on their own and develop their own offensive and defensive strategiesTeams need to communicate and work together to cover the court and develop offensive and defensive strategies
Other key differencesSingles players are allowed to volley anywhere on the court.Doubles players are not allowed to volley within 7 feet of the net on their side of the court. (called “No Man’s Land“)
  • Singles players can score points by hitting the ball into the opposing team’s non-volley zone. Doubles players cannot score points by hitting the ball into the opposing team’s non-volley zone.
  • Singles players can hit the ball twice in a row before returning it over the net. Doubles players cannot hit the ball twice in a row before returning it over the net.

Overall, doubles pickleball is a more social and team-oriented sport, while singles pickleball is more individual and challenging.

Which format is better for you depends on your personal preferences and goals. If you are looking for a social and cooperative sport, then doubles pickleball is a great option. And if you want to try a more challenging and individual sport, then singles pickleball is a great option.


Conclusion

Doubles play in pickleball requires effective communication, a solid strategy, and a willingness to adapt and work as a team. By understanding the rules, avoiding common faults, and resolving disputes respectfully, you can enjoy a fair and enjoyable game. Remember to practice advanced techniques like the dink shot, third shot drop, and net play to elevate your doubles game to the next level. With dedication, teamwork, and a sprinkle of good humor, you’ll be dominating the court in no time.


Can I step on the kitchen or non-volley zone line while playing pickleball doubles?

Yes, you can step on the kitchen or non-volley zone line while playing pickleball doubles, as long as you are not volleying the ball. This is also known as “toeing the line.” It is a common strategy for doubles players to stand on or near the kitchen line in order to be in a better position to volley and intercept soft shots.


Are there specific rules for serving in pickleball doubles?

Yes, there are specific rules for serving in pickleball doubles. Here is a summary,

  • The server must stand behind the baseline and within the service court.
  • The server must hit the ball underarm with contact made below the waist.
  • The serve must land in the diagonally opposite service court.
  • The server must let the ball bounce once before hitting it.
  • The receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning it.
  • Only one serve is allowed per server.

How do I decide who serves first in a pickleball doubles match?

There are a few ways to decide who serves first in a pickleball doubles match. The most common way is to use a coin toss or to play Rock-Paper-Scissors. You can also agree on a pre-determined method, such as the player on the right side of the court always serving first.


What happens if the ball hits the net during a serve in pickleball doubles?

If the ball hits the net during a serve in pickleball doubles, the following rules apply,

  • If the ball hits the net and then lands in the correct service court, it is a “let serve.” This means that the server gets another chance to serve.
  • If the ball hits the net and then lands in the incorrect service court, or if it hits the net and goes out of bounds, it is a fault. The receiving team gets a point.

It is important to note that there is no limit to the number of let serves that a player can have. However, if a player commits two faults in a row, they lose the point.


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