Introduction to the Double Bounce Rule
Pickleball has a double bounce rule that affects the serve, return, and shot after the return. The rule is simple, but functions to make Pickleball a delightful game of rallying instead of a choppy game of quick points. Understanding the double bounce rule is critical to smooth pickleball play.
Pickleball is a beautiful ball, paddle, and net sport nestled just between the smaller Ping Pong and larger Tennis. Because of its more popular siblings, Pickleball rules and scoring can be confusing. People often mix and match Tennis and Ping Pong rules, somewhat unsure of how Pickleball works. The double bounce rule in Pickleball is a rule that differs from both Ping Pong and Tennis.
The Double Bounce Rule Explained (With Image)
The double bounce rule applies to the initial pickleball serve, the return, and the shot after the return. The double bounce rule, simply, means that the ball must bounce once in the receiver’s square before they hit the ball back over the net, and a second time back on the server’s side before the server hits the ball back over the net. See the image below:
- The receiver must allow the ball to bounce on the serve. This rule is standard for tennis and ping-pong, both of which require the receiver to allow the ball to bounce before returning it over the net.
- Once successfully returned, the person who served must let the return bounce before hitting the ball over the net again. This rule is different than ping pong and tennis. This is the second bounce of pickleball’s double bounce rule.
- After the server returns the ball again, as the third hit of the rally (counting the serve), the fourth hit and every hit after that may be “smashed” (the ball may be hit out of the air before it touches the ground on your side).
The double bounce rule means that both the server and receiver have to let the ball bounce once on their side before they can hit the ball back over the pickleball net.
Tennis and ping pong also require the receiver to allow the serve to bounce. You can’t just stand at the net and hammer the tennis ball back when the server hits it over! But unlike tennis and ping pong, pickleball requires that the person who served also let the first return bounce on their side (the double bounce).
In tennis and ping-pong, the third shot can be smashed over the net without allowing it to touch the ground. Those sports have a “single-bounce rule,” requiring on the serve to bounce. If the serve is returned, however, the server is allowed to smash the third shot. Pickleball’s double bounce rule ensures that only the fourth shot may be smashed.
Smashes in Pickleball: Avoiding the “Kitchen” and the “Double Bounce”
The double bounce rule helps extend rallies. Pickleball is built around rally-play, instead of the quick smashes of ping pong and the sprinting smashes of tennis.
In pickleball, after the ball has completed the double bounce rule over three shots in total, the ball may be smashed over the net without it touching the ground.
However, pickleball also includes a location known as the “kitchen.” In tennis, the kitchen area is where players go to smash the ball with overhead volleys which bounce over their opponents’ heads. In Pickleball, a rally-based sport, the kitchen is a no-volley zone. You can’t smash the ball from the kitchen.
For example, the following sequence is an example of a fair pickleball play that doesn’t violate the double bounce or kitchen rule:
- Person 1 completes a serve.
- Person 2 is receiving the serve. They allow the ball to bounce once before returning it over the net.
- The ball flies over the net back to Person 1, who served. Person 1 allows the ball to bounce for the second time in the rally (completing the double bounce rule) before returning it over the net.
- Person 2, standing well behind the kitchen, does not allow the ball to bounce but instead smashes the ball directly back onto Person 1’s side. This is the fourth shot of the rally.
Pickleball’s rules are similar to ping pong and tennis, but the double bounce rule is a critical exception. The double bounce rule prevents the server from smashing the return, thereby extending the playful rallies that pickleball is known for!
Volleys or “smashes” are legal in pickleball as long as you stay out of the kitchen and adhere to the double bounce rule. Enforcing the double bounce rule will make sure that points go longer. Often people who get frustrated with pickleball weren’t playing with the double bounce rule properly!