Even though pickleball has been around since 1965, you might just be starting to play. While a lot of terms used in pickleball have carried over from other sports such as table tennis and badminton, there are many words you only hear in pickleball. Here are a few pickleball terms you should know before you start playing.

Pickleball Terms Related to the Court

When playing pickleball, knowing some language related to the court layout is essential. This knowledge helps you understand where you can and can’t stand.

Kitchen or Non-Volley Zone

Kitchen is a slang term for the non-volley zone or NVZ. The kitchen extends seven feet on each side of the net. Players are not allowed to be in the NVZ when volleying the ball.


The baseline is located 22 feet from the net. It is the line showing the location of the back of the court.


Each side of the net has an area where the team plays called a service area. The centerline extends from the non-volley zone to the baseline, dividing the service area in half.


The midcourt is the section where you play. It is the space between the non-volley zone and the baseline.


The sideline is an area that goes around the court. It is between the actual playing area and the area considered out of bounds.

Pickleball Terms Related to Scoring and Serving

Other pickleball terms you need to know concern serving and scoring. Here are a few words to get you started.


An ace results when the other team does not return the serve. The serving team scores one point if this happens.


When you serve, you must hit the ball to the player on the opposing team diagonally opposite you. This is considered cross-court.

Dink Shot

This shot occurs when you hit the ball, and it drops just after clearing the net, landing in your opponent’s kitchen. This is a great way to score a point.


In pickleball, an underhanded serve starts each game. Use the paddle to hit the ball cross-court over the net to serve. The receiving team attempts to return the ball to the server. If they do not, the receiving team has committed a fault, and the serving team scores a point.

Play continues until the serving team commits a fault. The time between the serve and the fault is a rally. After the fault, the ball is called a dead ball. Once both players on a team have had an opportunity to serve, and it is time for the other team to serve, side out is called.


A volley is when you hit the ball without letting it bounce first. The double-bounce rule does not let you hit a volley until after the third shot. This means the serving team serves the ball, the receiving team returns it, and the serving team hits it back to their opponents again before volleying can begin.

There are many more pickleball terms to master. As you continue to play the game, you will learn additional terminology.