Pickleball is somewhat of a combination between tennis, badminton, and table tennis. The racket sport is played by 2 or 4 players (2 teams of 2) over a net that splits the court into 2 equal halves. So, what are the dimensions of a pickleball court?
A pickleball court measures 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. The 20-foot-wide net sits at the 22-foot mark of the court and stands 3 feet high at the posts and 34 inches high at the center. The non-volley zone spans 7 feet in both directions, starting from the net.
So, how exactly is pickleball played? And what sort of equipment do you need to play pickleball? I’ll address these questions and more in the remainder of this guide.
The Origin Story of Pickleball
Pickleball originated back in 1965 when a congressman, a businessman, and some dude came together to create a child-friendly sport using a badminton net. At the time, all they had was a net and a single racket, and it’s not like they could split the racket in 3. So, they used whatever other supplies they had at their disposal.
The 3 gentlemen experimented with ping pong paddles and a perforated ball. After several trials and error, they finally decided to lower the badminton net to 3 feet instead of 5 feet, and in just 2 years, the trio managed to hold the run and manage the first pickleball court in the world, though it was in one of the founders’ backyards.
In 1975, pickleball made its way into a popular tennis magazine, calling it the latest racket sport in America. 9 years after its inception, the USAPA (United States Amateur Pickleball Association) was formed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Pickleball Court Dimensions and Specifications
Before covering the dimensions of a pickleball court, we first have to understand what the markings are.
Sidelines—The longest lines on a pickleball court that denote the playing field and foul zones.
Baselines—The lines perpendicular to the sidelines create a rectangular playing field.
Midline—The line that divides the pickleball court in half. The net is placed directly over the midline.
Net—A traditional net like a badminton net with the bottom touching the midline line. However, a pickle court net is around 36 inches in height at the sidelines and 34 inches high in the middle, while the height of a badminton net is 5 feet 1 inch.
No-Volley Lines—The lines that denote where players cannot perform volleys when striking the ball.
Centerline—The line that spans from the baseline to the no-volley zone line.
Now that we know what the markings are, we can get a better understanding of what a pickleball court looks like through its measurements.
|Sidelines||44 feet long|
|Baselines||20 feet long||The sidelines and baselines create the rectangular playing field of the pickleball court|
|Midline||20 feet long||Drawn along the width of the court to connect both sidelines at their 22-foot marks|
|Net||20 feet long × 3 feet tall||Placed directly over the midline to separate both sides of the court|
|No-Volley Line||20 feet long||This line is drawn 7 feet away from the net in both directions, creating a rectangle that measures 14 feet long and 20 feet wide|
|Centerline||15 feet||Marked from the halfway point of the baseline (10 feet) to the no-volley line|
Note: All of the lines are 2 inches wide.
Apart from the pickleball court, you will need the following equipment to play a pickleball match.
Since its inception, pickleball has always used a standard badminton net, even for official tournaments. A badminton net measures 20 feet long and 3 feet tall. A net assembly should come with mounting posts that prop the top corners of the net 36 inches above the midline, while the center dips slightly to 34 inches high.
Pickleball balls look more like wiffle balls than tennis balls or badminton shuttlecocks. The pickleball ball is a perforated ball made of plastic that measures 2.874 and 2.792 inches in diameter and 9.03 and 9.34 inches in circumference, and it weighs between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces. When dropped from a height of 78 inches onto a concrete surface, it should bounce between 30 and 34 inches high.
Like ping pong, pickleball uses paddles instead of full-sized rackets. They usually measure 15.5 to 17 inches from the bottom of the handle to the top of the head, 7 to 8.25 inches at its widest point, and roughly 1.25 inches in thickness.
How to Play Pickleball
You can find a comprehensive overview of pickleball rules at Pickle-Ball Inc., but I’ll describe the fundamentals down below.
- A game is played between 2 players (singles) or 2 teams of 2 (doubles).
- Regardless of what format is played, the entire length and width of the court are considered the playing field.
- Similar to tennis, pickleball is played using the double-bounce rule—i.e., the ball is allowed to bounce once before the receiving player must play their first shot.
- The pickleball ball is served diagonally.
- When serving, the ball must not land in the non-volley zone or its lines.
- The serving player must have both feet behind the baselines when serving the ball.
- If the serving team scores a point, the server switches to the other side of their court (moving behind the left box after scoring from the right).
- When the first server loses their serve, the second player is the next server.
- When the second player of a team loses their serve, possession is switched over to the opposing team.
- Only the serving team can score a point.
- Matches are played to 11, 15, or 21 points.
- The winner of the match is the first to score 11, 15, or 21 points or to be ahead 2 points in the event of a tie at 10, 14, or 20 points.
- Players cannot volley when standing in the non-volley zone (a volley is when a player hits the ball before giving it a chance to bounce).
- Players may enter the non-volley zone as long as they do not volley the ball.
- If a player volleys the ball, they must stand behind the non-volley line.
- If a player’s momentum brings them into the non-volley zone after volleying the ball, the ball is bead, and the next player/team serves the ball.