Chapter 3

Glossary of Pickleball Terms


Ace: A serve that your opponent is unable to hit back to you. You win the point on your serve.

Approach Shot: Hitting the ball as you move toward the net.

Around the Post: Also known as “ATP,” this is a legal shot where the ball is hit around the side of the post rather than directly over the pickleball net.


Backcourt: The area at the back of the court, within a few feet of the baseline.

Baseline: The line that marks the back end of the court, 22 feet from the net.

Backhand: A shot hit across your body or on the side of the body opposite your dominant hand. If you are right-handed, a backhand is a shot where you reach across your body with the pickleball racket to hit a ball on your left side.

Bounce it: This is an instruction one player calls out to their teammate as part of their pickleball strategy. This instruction advises their teammate to let the ball bounce before hitting it. If it appears the shot will land out of bounds, “bounce it” instructs your partner to let the ball hit the ground so that you may win the point by allowing the shot to land beyond the baseline or sidelines.


Carry: A shot where instead of bouncing the ball off your pickleball racket, you swing so that your paddle carries the ball forward as it moves.

Centerline: The line running perpendicular to the pickleball net, starting at the back of the non-volley zone and going to the baseline.

Cross-Court: The square on the opposite diagonal from your square on the court.

Champion Shot: Any shot that bounces twice in the non-volley zone.


Dead Ball: After a fault has occurred and the point is won, the ball is a dead ball.

Dillball: A pickleball that has bounced once in bounds and is still live and in play, able to be legally returned.

Dink/Dink Shot: A soft, quick shot that clears the pickleball net and lands in the opposite non-volley zone.

Doubles: A game with four players, two on each side of the net. Doubles are the most common type of pickleball play.

Double Bounce: When a ball bounces twice on the same side of the pickleball net before being hit. This is a foul and results in a point for the other team if they were the servers or a switch in servers if they were the receivers.

Double Hit: The ball is hit twice by the same player or same team before returning over the net. In some cases, double hits are legal.

Drop Shot: A softly hit shot that clears the net before dropping to the court, short of the opponent’s position.

Drop Shot Volley: A shot hit before it bounces, landing near the net on the other side. Drop shot volleys are particularly effective when your opponent stands near the baseline.


Erne: A shot where the player steps outside the bounds of the court, next to the non-volley zone. Because they are next to the “kitchen” rather than inside it, they are technically outside the non-volley zone, making a volley shot legal.


Falafel: A short shot caused by hitting the ball with very little speed or power.

Fault: Any action causing play to stop because of a violation of basic pickleball rules.

Flapjack: The first two shots of a point that must bounce before you can legally hit them. The return of the serve and the following shot are both flapjacks, meaning you can not hit them before they bounce.

Foot fault: On the serve, neither foot may contact the baseline or court before the player strikes the ball. At least one foot must stay on the court during the serve. (No jumping serves allowed.) Breaking either of these rules is a foot fault. If a player steps into the no-volley zone or on the NVZ’s lines while hitting a volley, that is also a foot fault.

Forehand: A pickleball shot hit on the dominant side of your body. If you are right-handed, a shot hit on the right side of your body is a forehand.

First Serve: For the opening serve of the game, only one person on a doubles team serves before the service switches to the opposing team.


Groundstroke: A ball hit after one bounce.


Half-Volley: A shot hit immediately after the ball bounces, before it has risen to the maximum height of the bounce.

Hinder: Anything that interferes with or affects gameplay.


Kitchen: A slang term for the non-volley zone.


Let: Until 2021, official pickleball rules had a “let” concept, which meant that if a serve hit the net but landed over the net in the correct service box, it was re-served. In 2023, that rule was removed. Now, there is no “let”. A serve that hits the net but lands in the allowable area is treated as a regular serve and a live ball that the receiving team must return.

Lob: A high, deep return shot that forces the opposing players back toward the baseline.


Nasty Nelson: When the server aims the ball to intentionally strike the opposing player not receiving the serve. If the ball hits the player before it bounces, that is a fault on the receiving team, meaning the serving team wins the point.

Non-Volley Zone (NVZ): The court section on either side of the net, in front of the service boxes. Players cannot hit volleys from within the non-volley zone or when touching the non-volley zone lines. The non-volley zone is also known as The Kitchen.


Opa!: Players sometimes shout this after the third shot has been hit (serve, return, return) to indicate that open volleying is now allowed.


Paddle: The pickleball racket.

Pickle!: This warning is sometimes shouted immediately before a serve, indicating that play is about to begin.

Pickled: When a game is won with one side scoring no points. A score of 11-0 means the losing side has been “pickled.”

Pickledome: In a competitive tournament, the pickledome is the court on which the final championship match is played.

Pickler: A pickleball fanatic. Someone who frequently plays pickleball and is passionate about the sport is a pickler. Picklers may have the best in pickleball apparel and equipment—and certainly the best in enthusiasm.


Rally: Continuous play during which the ball is hit back and forth between sides until a fault occurs.

Receiver: The player on the opposite diagonal from the server. The receiver returns the serve.

Resetting: Also known as a reset, this is when a team ends a fast-paced rally by bringing the ball back into the non-volley zone for dinking.


Scorpion: a shot where the player squats low and raises the paddle over their head, using a fast shot to force the ball quickly back to their opponent. A scorpion can be used when a ball is hit directly at a player. The shot’s name comes from the fact that the raised paddle looks like a scorpion’s tail raised over its head in attack.

Second Serve: The second server from a team after the first server faults on their serving chance.

Serve: The underhand stroke that puts the ball into play. Pickleball serves must occur with at least one foot on the ground and the paddle making contact with the ball below waist height.

Service Court: The area on both sides of the centerline, between the non-volley zone and the baseline.

Sideout: When one side loses their second serve, and service moves to the other side.

Singles: Pickleball with only two players instead of four. One player is on each side of the net.

Shadowing: A pickleball strategy where both players on a team move together, keeping approximately 10 feet between each other.

Split Stance: A neutral, ready position where a player stands with feet parallel to each other and apart.


Technical Foul: During tournament play, the referee can award an additional point to a team if the opposing team violates the technical foul rules. Technical fouls include things like using profanity or exhibiting unsportsmanlike behaviors.

Two-Bounce Rule: After the serve, the receiving team must let the ball bounce before hitting it back, and the serving team must let that shot bounce before returning it. This is the Two-Bounce Rule. After these two bounces, volleying is allowed outside the non-volley zone.


Volley: A ball hit before it has bounced on the court. Volleys are legal except inside the non-volley zone or on the first two return shots after the serve.

Volley Llama: This is a slang term for a fault that occurs when a player hits a volley from the non-volley zone.

Whether you’ve been playing for a while or are just starting pickleball lessons for beginners, knowing the pickleball lingo will give you a competitive edge. (If nothing else, you’ll sound smarter than your opponent!)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a non-volley zone or 'The Kitchen' in pickleball?

The area of the court closest to the net on both sides is known as the kitchen. The kitchen is seven feet deep, and it is marked off with a line to separate it from the rest of the court. In the kitchen, you can not hit a volley. A volley is when the ball comes toward you, and you hit it before it bounces.

You also can not hit a volley and then have your momentum land you in the kitchen. Any follow-through steps from a volley hit must be safely outside the kitchen.

Also, note that the entirety of the kitchen line is considered the kitchen, so even touching it while volleying would be a fault.

What are faults in pickleball?

Faults occur when a team does not win the rally. Many things can lead to a fault, including (but not limited to):

  • Hitting a ball out of bounds
  • Hitting a volley in the kitchen
  • Hitting a volley before the two bounce rule has taken place (the ball must bounce on both sides of the net before it can be volleyed)
  • Serving incorrectly
  • Hitting the ball into the net
  • Missing the ball before the second bounce
  • Hitting the net with your paddle or body
  • Hitting the ball with something other than your paddle or paddle hand

If you make a fault as the serving team, neither team gets a point. If you make a fault as the receiving team, your opposing team gets a point.

What is the double bounce rule in pickleball?

The double bounce rule states that a ball must bounce on each side of the net before it can be played. After the server hits the ball, the ball must bounce on the receiving team’s court before it is hit. The serving team then must let the ball bounce on their side before returning it. After the ball is hit back to the receiving team, the rest of the rally can be hit either off the bounce or as volleys, whichever way the players choose.