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The Definitive Guide To Pickleball Terminology

Pickleball Terminology

TL;DR: This article is a comprehensive guide to pickleball terminology, a sport that is a combination of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. It is played on a smaller court that is divided into two halves by a net in the centre. The guide covers the basics of the game, such as terms for the court, player positioning, and common slang used in pickleball. The article also delves into advanced slang terminology that is unique to the sport. By learning the terms used in pickleball, players can get better at the game and communicate with each other more effectively.

Highlights

  • Pickleball is a relatively new sport that is a combination of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, and is played on a court that is one-third the size of a regular tennis court. It is played with two or four players who take turns serving and returning the ball over the net.
  • The most basic terms of the game include “rally,” “server,” “net line,” “doubles,” and “mixed doubles.” The lines that run along the edges of the court are called “sidelines.”

If you’re new to the game of pickleball, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. It’s a fun and fast-paced game that can be enjoyed by all ages, but it also has its own unique set of terms and phrases that can be confusing to beginners. In this definitive guide to pickleball terminology, we’ll break down the most common terms and definitions you’ll need to know to become a successful pickleball player.

Introduction to Pickleball Terminology

Pickleball is a relatively new sport that has gained popularity in the United States and around the world. The game is a combination of badminton, table tennis, and tennis and is played on a court that is one-third the size of a regular tennis court. To be a good pickleball player, you need to know the basic terms and rules of the game.

Common Pickleball Terminology

Terms Covered:

  • Rally
  • Server
  • Net Line
  • Doubles
  • Mixed Doubles

Let’s start with the most basic terms. The first thing you’ll need to know is the court. A pickleball court is divided into two sides, with a net in the middle. Each side is called a “baseline” and each player stands on their own baseline. The net is called the “net line” and must be kept at a height of 34 inches.

The game is played with two or four players. Each team is made up of either two players (doubles) or four players (mixed doubles). The players take turns serving and retuning the ball over the net. The player who is serving is called the “server,” and the player who is returning the ball is called the “receiver.” The goal of the game is to hit the ball over the net and onto the other team’s side of the court.

When the ball is hit back and forth, it is called a “rally”. A rally is won when one team is unable to hit the ball back over the net and onto the other team’s side of the court. The game is scored much like tennis, with each point being awarded to the team that wins the rally.

Pickleball Terms to Describe the Court

Terms Covered:

  • Sidelines
  • Centre Lines
  • Baselines
  • Service Box
  • Non-Volley Zone
  • Kitchen
  • Court

Now that you understand the basics of the game, let’s look at some of the terms used to describe the court. The court is divided into two equal sides, with a net in the middle. The lines that run along the edges of the court are called “sidelines”. The lines that run across the court from one side to the other are called “centre lines” or “baselines”. The area behind each baseline is called the “service box”. The area on either side of the service box is called the “non-volley zone” or the “kitchen”.

The area between the net line and the baseline on each side is called the “court.” The court is divided into two halves, with each team having their own half. Only into its own half of the court is each team permitted to hit the ball over the net. The lines along the sides of the court are called “sidelines,” and the lines that run across the court from one side to the other are called “centre lines”.

Pickleball Slang

Terms Covered:

  • Dink / Dinker
  • Drive
  • Dug
  • Dink and Drive
  • Skunk
  • Volleyball
  • Balls Deep

Some terms are unique to pickleball and are not used as often in other sports. The most common of these is “dug.” This is when a player hits the ball too hard and it goes into the net. Another is “dink” or “dinker.” This is when a player hits the ball softly over the net. A “drive” is when a player hits the ball hard and straight over the net.

The term “dink and drive” is used to describe a strategy of alternating between soft and hard shots. It is also used to describe a player who is both aggressive and deceptive. The term “skunk” is used to describe a game in which one team wins all of the points. Finally, “volleyball” is used to describe a shot where the ball is hit over the net without it bouncing on the court first.

Learn more about volleys and improving your own skill at them with our guide next:

Advanced Pickleball Slang

To make this section a little easier we have broken up the slang into two parts, so here’s part two, the advanced pickleball terminology.

  • Dinking Around
  • Kitchen Wars
  • Meatball
  • Cherry Picker

Dinking around is a strategy used to keep the ball in play. It involves a light hit on the ball, keeping it just above the net, making it difficult for your opponent to return.

Kitchen wars is when the game is played on the left side of the court, the area where the net is closest to the playing surface. This area is known as the kitchen and players use this area to their advantage.

A Meatball is a high lob shot that is hit to the back of the court, making it difficult for the opponent to return. A Golden dink is a soft tap of the ball that is close to the net. It is a strategy used to keep the ball in play.

Finally, a Cherry picker is a player that stays at the back of the court and only moves towards the net when they think they can score a point. This strategy can be used to surprise your opponent and can be very effective.

Pickleball Terms to Describe Player Positioning

Terms Covered

  • Wide Dip
  • Server
  • Net Player
  • Baseline Player
  • Diamond
  • Split

Pickleball also has its own set of terms to describe player positioning. The player who is serving is called the “server.” The player who is receiving the serve is called the “receiver.” The player who is closest to the net is called the “net player,” and the player who is farthest from the net is called the “baseline player”.

When the ball is hit back and forth, the players move around the court in a pattern called the “diamond”. This involves the four players taking turns hitting the ball while they move around the court in a clockwise direction. The players can also move to the centre of the court to “split” the court and make it easier to hit the ball.

Pickleball Referee Terminology

Terms Covered:

  • Umpire
  • Official
  • Faults
  • Let
  • No-Fault
  • Game

In competitive pickleball, some referees are responsible for enforcing the rules of the game. The referee is known as the “umpire” or the “official.” The umpire is responsible for declaring “faults” when a player does not follow the rules. The umpire can also call “let” if a player is not ready for the serve or if the ball is not served correctly.

The umpire can also call “no-fault” when a player is not able to return the ball correctly. In addition, the umpire can call a “game” when a team reaches 11 points or when a team has a 2-point lead at any time.

Advanced Pickleballer Terminology

Just to add a few more pickleball terms into the mix, let’s cover some we are yet to touch on:

  • Blocking: Blocking refers to a technique used in pickleball to deflect or redirect the opponent’s shot with a soft touch at the net. The purpose of blocking is to slow down the pace of the game and force the opponent to hit a weaker shot.
  • Ernie: Ernie is a strategy used in pickleball where a player runs up to the non-volley zone line on the opposite side of the court to hit a volley. The purpose of Ernie is to catch the opponent off guard and hit a shot that they may not expect.
  • Mind game: Mind game refers to the mental aspect of pickleball where a player uses different tactics to distract, confuse, or outsmart their opponent. Mind games can include faking a shot, changing the pace of the game, or using body language to create a false impression.
  • Poach: Poaching is a strategy where a player crosses over into their partner’s side of the court to intercept a shot intended for their partner. The purpose of poaching is to put pressure on the opponent and force them to hit a weaker shot.
  • Spin: Spin refers to the rotational motion that a player puts on the ball when hitting it. In pickleball, players can use different types of spin such as topspin, backspin, or sidespin to control the trajectory of the ball and make it more difficult for the opponent to return.
  • Third shot drop: Third shot drop is a strategy used in pickleball where a player hits a soft shot that lands just over the net on the opponent’s side of the court. The purpose of the third shot drop is to force the opponent to hit an upward shot, which can be easier to attack and win the point.

Something to read next? Most important pickleball shots

Pickleball Jargon

Finally, there is some pickleball jargon that all players should be familiar with. For example, the term “lob” is used to describe a shot that is hit over the net high and deep. The term “drop shot” is used to describe a shot that is hit softly and close to the net. The term “ace” is used to describe a serve that is not returned by the opponent.

The term “let” is used to describe a point where the serve is not returned properly due to an interruption or a lack of readiness. The term “smash” is used to describe a hard-hit shot that goes straight over the net. Finally, the term “volley” is used to describe a shot that is hit over the net without first bouncing on the court.

At the net – Summary

As you can see, there are many terms and definitions associated with the game of pickleball. All players need to have a basic understanding of pickleball terminology to be successful. With practice and dedication, you’ll soon be able to recognise and use pickleball terminology like a pro. So now that you know the basics, go out and have some fun!

Additional Resources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_pickleball_terms

David Mason
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