Pickleball for Beginners

Pickleball for Beginners

If you’re looking to kick back, Ocean City, a beach resort town in New Jersey, has a lot to offer. Ocean shores stretch for miles, amusement parks are within sight, and the unmissable Boardwalk hosts famed art shows. Most of all, it’s one of the best places to play pickleball.

What are your favorite fun, challenging and calorie-burning group games for the sunny weekends? We bet pickleball is on the list or at least you’re considering adding it. If you’re a complete newbie, you may have wondered why the sport looks familiar or like a cross of a few other sports. You’re not far off because pickleball is a paddle sport like tennis, table tennis, badminton and ping-pong. However, it’s a unique sport with its own set of rules.

What Are the Trends?

Pickleball began in 1965 as a children’s backyard game. Over the decades, it has risen in popularity so much that it has become the fastest-growing sport in the nation. In 2023, about 13.58 million people in the United States played pickleball. According to the Association of Pickleball Professionals, the number of participants in 2023 is much higher, at more than 36 million.

The sport’s popularity comes down to a few factors:

  • It’s a less intense and highly social game: You can play with friends or family and hold a conversation at the same time.
  • It’s ideal for all skill sets: Pickleball is a game for beginners and experienced players alike. You can learn the rules and start playing in a short time.
  • It’s ideal for all ages: The sport has evolved from a children’s game to include all ages.

How to Play Pickleball: What You Need

The basic requirements for playing pickleball are:


Any court-friendly footwear that supports lateral movements is a good choice as it may prevent injuries. Common sports shoes like tennis shoes and running shoes will do great. Pickleball-specific shoes are also available if you prefer them or if the circumstances call for it.

Pickleball Paddles

A paddle is the tool you use to hit the ball. Paddles are available in various styles, materials and sizes. You can choose one depending on texture, control, durability, weight and grip. For beginners, weight and grip are important. You may want to prioritize a comfortable paddle that is easy to control.


You’ll need a pickleball. They’re made from hard plastic with holes on the surface. Pay attention to the type of ball you get because outdoor balls have many small holes while indoor ones have bigger but fewer holes.

Pickleball Court

Find somewhere to play and someone to play with. You can design a makeshift court in your backyard or visit a local court for a more immersive experience. Modern pickleball courts in Ocean City, New Jersey, are designed for family-friendly fun as well as competitive matches.

How the Game Is Set Up

A pickleball court is much smaller than a tennis court but similar to a doubles badminton court, measuring 44 feet by 20 feet. The court is divided in half by a net measuring 36 inches on the sidelines and 34 inches at the center. A crucial area in the court is the middle point, extending 7 feet on both sides of the net and 20 feet wide. The area is called the non-volley zone or the kitchen and is important to how you play pickleball.

If you stand on the opposite sides of the net, you’ll either stand on the left service area or the right service area since the court is designed for four. However, two players can play pickleball as singles.

Rules of Pickleball 

Looking at the rules, pickleball may appear complicated for beginners. Try to stick to these established pickleball basics:

The Serving Rules

The opposing teams can use any fair method to decide who serves first. If fair means a round of Rock Paper Scissors to you, go with it. As a rule, the player on the right-hand side serves and the serve must go crosscourt, meaning that the ball travels from the serving player on the right, across the court diagonally, to the opposing player on the left.

When serving, you must use either an underhand or drop serve. For an underhand serve, you drop the ball and hit it upward before it lands on the ground. The drop serve is the opposite. You allow the ball to drop and bounce off the surface once before hitting it.

The Two-Bounce Rule

When the serving team serves, the receiving team allows the ball to bounce before sending it back, and the serving team must also wait for the ball to bounce before responding. The two-bounce rule is important because it restricts players from striking the ball midair right away.

After two bounces, the players on both sides can legally volley, which means hitting the ball before it bounces. The rally then continues with players volleying and bouncing the ball until a fault occurs.

The Kitchen Rule

The kitchen rule states that you can’t volley while any part of your body is in the kitchen — the non-volley zone and its lines. The rule only applies to volleying. Otherwise, you can move within the kitchen area once the ball bounces.

The Faults

Faults are rule violations. If the serving team faults, they lose the serving privilege until the new serving team faults. A fault by the receiving team earns the serving team a point. Here’s a list of pickleball faults:

  • The ball doesn’t clear the net.
  • The ball bounces twice.
  • The player hits out of bounds.
  • The player volleys from the kitchen.
  • The ball touches the non-volley zone.
  • The player volleys before establishing the two-bounce rule.
  • The ball hits any object before bouncing.
  • The player or their gear makes contact with the net.
  • The player or their gear touches the kitchen area during a volley.

The Scoring System

When learning to play pickleball, the scoring system may initially seem confusing. However, it starts to stick after a game or two.

The scoring system in singles and doubles are similar. You only score if you’re the serving team and win the rally. If your team wins and you’re the serving player, you switch sides with your teammate and continue to serve. If you lose, your teammate takes over the serving and follows the same process until they fault, allowing the receiving team to serve and score points.

The game has 11 points. The first team to score the points wins only if they are ahead by two points — for example, when the score is 11-9. An 11-10 score means the teams continue playing until one wins by two points.

Quick Tips for Beginner Players

Here are quick tips for your first game:

  • Play in the non-volley line, as it’s the strongest position.
  • Remember to let the ball bounce on both sides before striking midair.
  • Face the player hitting the ball for a better response.
  • Relax and focus on your swing.
  • Move when the opponent hits the ball.
  • Enjoy the game.

Learn to Play Pickleball in Ocean City

Pickleball is fun, competitive, family-friendly and memorable. Now that you know the basics, give the sport a shot and see why millions of Americans love it. Where you choose to play the sport also contributes to the experience. You want a high-quality, modern court with relaxing aesthetics, and that’s exactly what Ocean City, New Jersey, offers. The city is dubbed America’s Greatest Family Resort for a reason. Visit and learn to play pickleball in OCNJ!

Previous ArticleFlower Show, Farmers Market, Fireworks, 5K Highlight the Week Next ArticleOCNJ Summer Bucket List