10 most confusing pickleball rules

Here are confusing rules of pickleball that pickleball players most often have questions about.

Danea & Barrett Bass



June 20, 2024



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The rules of pickleball can be really confusing, whether you are a brand new player or have been playing pickleball for years. When can you be in the pickleball kitchen? What is the pickleball momentum rule? What is an “in” line and what is an “out” line in pickleball? And when can you call a redo on a play? Here are 10 confusing rules of pickleball that pickleball players most often have questions about.

Rule #1: You can step into the kitchen zone

One rule that pickleball players get confused by is the kitchen/non-volley zone: It’s important to remember that the kitchen area is not lava.

Some players are scared to step in the kitchen area — the area between the net and the kitchen line — but you can hit the ball in the zone as much as you want. You just can't volley the ball while in the zone.

You will likely not want to hang out in the kitchen area. It’s a good idea to recover back behind the kitchen line, because someone will hit the ball at you and you will be forced to volley the ball. It's advantageous to make sure that you're taking advantage of volleying the ball when you can, and you can only do that behind the kitchen line (or otherwise outside the kitchen zone).

Learn more about pickleball kitchen rules.

Rule #2: Momentum rule

You already know you cannot volley the ball while standing in the kitchen area, but sometimes the momentum from a volley shot will take you into the kitchen. This is a fault in pickleball.

An example of how momentum can take you into the kitchen zone: You get a really good pop-up and hit the ball, which causes you to step forward into the kitchen.

It's important that if you get a pop-up ball, you should get your paddle in position, and then move your pickleball paddle and not your feet. That way you still get the point and don’t cause a fault by stepping into the kitchen after your volley.

Learn more about pickleball momentum rules.

Rule #3: Momentum from the serve

There is also momentum that has to do with your serve. When you're serving the ball, you must be standing behind the baseline (with at least one foot on the ground/floor). But as long as you make contact with the ball before your momentum brings you into the court, it is not a fault. It’s okay if your momentum from your serve takes you into the court, as long as you make contact while behind the baseline.

Rule #4: Service lines (what is “in” and what is “out”?)

When you’re serving, players get confused about what lines are “in” and what lines are “out.”

When you're serving, the ball has to go crosscourt diagonally into the opposite service box. If you are the receiving team and the serve is coming crosscourt at you, the midcourt line, the baseline, and the sideline are all considered “in.” However, if the serve hits in the kitchen or it lands on the kitchen line, the serve is considered “out.”

Learn more about all the pickleball line rules.

Rule #5: Pickleball let rules

A “let” shot is is when you hit the ball and it clips the top of the net before landing on the other side. If it lands on the opposite side of the net and it's in the correct zone, it's actually a playable ball. The only exception to this is if you're serving and your ball clips the net: it could still be legal, but has to land in the correct service box.

Learn more about pickleball let rules.

Rule #6: Redos in pickleball

Are there ever any redos in pickleball? There are, but very few: one of those is when you are playing with a net that has a middle crossbar.

If the ball ever clips that middle crossbar, then you can have a redo in pickleball.

Rule #7: Serving redo rules

There is a lot of confusion on if there are pickleball redos for serving, but there not. Each person only gets one chance to serve the ball each rally — there are no redos.

However, there is a 10-second serve rule in pickleball, which means that if you serve and miss the ball, you can retry your serve as long as it’s within 10 seconds of calling the score.

Learn all the pickleball serving rules.

Rule #8: Can your paddle touch the net?

Another pickleball rule that tends to be confusing is that your paddle can never touch the net. If your paddle does touch then net at any point, you lose that rally.

One situation where this might apply in pickleball is if there's ever a ball that bounces shallowly but high into the kitchen. If you hit that ball and then follow through, but then you clip the tape, that is considered a fault.

Another situation where this would apply is if you ever jump from the court (above the kitchen line) to outside the court, without ever touching the kitchen area. This is a legal shot in pickleball, it's called an Erne, but if you touch the net while doing this, it is also a fault.

Rule #9: Pickleball two-bounce rule

The two-bounce rule in pickleball says that:

  • After a serve, the receiving team must let the ball bounce once in their court before returning it.

  • The serving  team must then allow the Return of Serve to bounce in their court before returning it to the receiving team.

  • After those two initial bounces, both teams may either allow the ball to bounce once before returning it or hit it out of the air (a volley).

Learn more about the pickleball double-bounce rule.

Rule #10: Calling pickleball scoring

Pickleball scoring is one of the most confusing parts of pickleball rules. When you're serving, you will call your score first, then your opponent's score, and then your server number.

It would be something like this:

  • 3 (your score) - 1 (your opponent’s score) - 2 (your server number: 1 or 2).

If you lose the serve without scoring, and it is returned to your opponent, then the first server would call out:

  • 1 (their score) - 3 (your score) - 1 (their server number).

The only exception to this is the very beginning of the game, when the person on the right actually starts as server number two. The beginning score of any game would be called out like this:

  • 0 - 0 - 2.

See our guide on pickleball scoring.

To learn more about confusing rules of pickleball, watch the video above.