Court Etiquette

Call out the score loudly before you serve

There are 3 different numbers to keep track of and everyone from beginners to advanced players can get confused. This is why having a constant update at the beginning of each serve is so helpful (and mandatory in tournaments). So, call out the score loudly so that things don’t get off track.

Meet at the net after a game

Meeting at the net is how you conclude every game. It’s considered to be extremely rude if you don’t meet at the net. When people meet at the net they typically stick their paddle handles out to sort of “high five” in our own pickleball way.

Wait until everyone is ready before you serve

The server should not serve until the receiver of the serve is ready. It is against the rules to serve if the receiver isn’t ready. If someone says they weren’t ready, re-serve the point.

Player Rotation

At our outdoor courts we use a whiteboard; players add their names to the bottom of the list. As players move onto the court the group of four is crossed out. If a box/foursome isn’t full, no one goes onto the courts until someone volunteers to play with the threesome. If there are four that want to play together they can write their names together and then wait until the boxes ahead of them move onto the court.

Chair rotation is used in some courts to wait and move sequentially up the line of chairs as people come off a court. People are welcome to go BACK in line if they want to play with others in order to mix play up and to avoid having the same foursome always playing together.

If you are crossing an active court to get onto a vacant court or to leave a court, wait until their current point is over.

Ball management

If a ball gets caught on your side of the net, but it needs to go to your opponent, don’t weakly throw the ball back over. Make sure it reaches your opponent. The same is true if a ball lands in your court from another court; find out which court the ball belongs to and return it to the other court, without smashing it back.

If a ball is going towards another court, do NOT chase it ONTO the other court. Stop, yell “Ball on Court”, and let the other people stop play and retrieve the ball.

Try to have a few balls in your pocket. This keeps people from having to hunt down balls all the time. If someone goes out of their way to get a ball for you, say thanks for going through the trouble.

Don’t give people lessons on the court

Most people who come to play recreational pickleball are just there for fun. They don’t care if they win or lose and they probably don’t even care if they improve or not. Trying to give them lessons on the court can make their experience annoying and frustrating no matter how well intentioned. Make sure you ask players if they want tips while they play.

Watch the outbursts

There’s nothing worse than being partnered with someone who curses loudly or constantly smacks their paddle on their leg. There’s nothing wrong with being competitive and passionate about pickleball; but, try to recognize that you’re not playing for the championship game. Your behaviour has an effect on the people around you and you are responsible for that!

Be aware of time used on the court

Respecting other people’s time is important for everyone’s enjoyment.  If you’re on the court and you see an enormous wait line, try to be respectful of the time you are taking. If it is very busy, court hosts may ask players to only play to 9 instead of 11; if there is no court host, players should implement shorter games themselves.

In or Out?

If you and your partner can’t determine if the ball was in or out – or if you disagree with your partner on a line call – the benefit of the doubt goes to your opponent. Wait! That’s actually an “official” rule!

Playing With Different Levels

If you are obviously the weakest player on the court, thank the other players for playing with you after the game. However, don’t take advantage of their graciousness by staying on the court for an indefinite period of time. More than a game or two will undoubtedly wear out your welcome.

If you are asked to play with a group that is obviously of a lower skill level than you, graciously accept and play a game or two with them. They will likely appreciate your graciousness and understand that you want to get back to similarly-skilled players after the game.

If you are obviously the strongest person in your foursome, tone down the competitiveness and hit your opponent’s balls that they can return. Work on a new skill – perhaps it’s a great time for work on that third shot drop shot.

In rec play, don’t exploit someone’s physical limitations just so you can “win.” Not cool!

Court Safety

Call out “BALL ON COURT” loudly if a ball lands in/rolls into your court

If you hit a ball into another court, or you see a ball land in your court, call out “Ball on Court” loudly and immediately AND STOP PLAY. It is easy for players who are focused on the ball in their court to not notice an errant ball. This is a serious safety issue as a player who steps on a ball could easily fall and sustain an injury such as spraining their ankle, breaking a bone, or, worse, hitting their head against a wall.

Don’t lob behind players with restricted mobility

Some players with mobility issues may try to run for a lobbed ball, which can be a serious safety risk. Some older or restricted players still have that competitive flair. So while a lot of them know that they shouldn’t attempt to run backwards, some do. Although it is their choice on whether or not they run for the ball, there’s no need to tempt them with a lob.

Be aware of where your partner is

If you are near your partner with an overhead slam opportunity where you may hit them, stop playing. Let the ball drop. Lose the point. Do NOT hit your partner.