Read a detailed article with information on some pickleball terminologies so you understand the game better.
Pickleball is a well-known sport that people of all ages and genders play. This game is a combination of three different games played on the court. People often get confused about the terminologies used by professionals. I spent a week learning the terms used in pickleball when I was new to the game.
You can scroll down to read a detailed article on pickleball vocabulary words. All the important pickleball phrases are mentioned so you know them before watching your next pickleball match on the court. This will help you understand the game better and enjoy it more. I hope people who are interested in playing the game can take advantage of the article and make use of the information given below.
Pickleball is a famous and fast-growing game in all parts of the United States of America because it is physically accommodating. Pickleball is a good way to exercise and bond with other players. When compared to other court games, pickleball is new, so most of the terminologies are not known by people. I have listed a few terminologies below that people should know to understand the game. Keep on reading the article to increase your knowledge about the game.
1. Pickleball Singles/Skinny Singles
As evident by the name, Pickleball singles or skinny singles involve only two players in the game. One player has to stand on each side of the court, which is equally divided by a net. The players do not have a teammate to depend upon. Hence skinny singles are not liked by most professional players because it can be exhausting.
2. Pickleball Doubles
Pickleball doubles involve four players in the game as they are playing as a team. Each team has two players, and they stand on each side of the court. Most players like this setting because they have a partner to rely on. Pickleball doubles help the players to interact and socialize with each other. Hence pickleball singles and pickleball doubles almost have the same rules, but the strategies are different.
People often confuse pickleball with tennis or badminton and use the same terms for it as well. The racket used in pickleball is called a paddle. It shouldn’t be called a racket. All the players use the paddle to hit the ball to make shots. Every player has a different playing style, but it is a rule to hit the ball when the paddle is placed below the waist area.
The players use two types of balls in pickleball. They can either use a Wiffle ball or a plastic ball that has some holes on the entire surface. The Wiffle ball is used in softball or basketball but now is being used by pickleball players too. It is assumed that it helps in scoring points against the competitors in the game. Indoor and outdoor pickleball balls are two types of balls used in pickleball.
Pickleball Terms and Definitions
I have explained the basic terms for pickleball above that should not only be known by the players. People who are sitting in the audience should also be aware of these terminologies to understand the game better. The less common terms and pickleball definitions that players use are stated below. This pickleball lingo or terms will help you understand the conversation of professional players as well.
An ace is a term that is used in the game when the ball is not returned by the player standing on the opposite side of the court. The player who serves the ball will get the point because the ball touches the court after getting the first bounce. It is basically missed and gives a point to the other team.
Serve is an that kicks off a pickleball rally. All serves must be hit below the waist, keeping your feet behind the baseline.
3. Approach Shot
This term is very common and is used when the ball is hit by the paddle when it is already moving in a forward motion. An approach shot is made to get closer to the net. This can be taken as an offense because the players hit the ball while it is moving near the opponent’s side of the court.
You might be aware of the term baseline because it is commonly used in almost all the games played on the court. The baseline in pickleball is the ending line of the court on each side. If the court is of the maximum size, the baseline would be 32 feet on each side. Whereas if the pickleball court is 44 feet, the baseline will be at 22 feet.
It might be clear by the name as the backcourt is the area near the baseline on a pickleball court. This can be approximately 20 feet and is not mostly used by the players. It is difficult to hit the ball from the backcourt, so the players do not usually occupy it. However, if playing pickleball doubles, one of the players might stand in the backcourt area.
6. Bounce It
This term is mostly used in pickleball doubles because it is used as a signal not to hit the ball. One team member shouts at the other team member not to hit the ball with the paddle so it can go off the boundary. This is an advantage as the team will gain a point against their opponents in the game.
The backspin is used by the players when they swing the arm in the backward direction before the paddle hits the ball. This motion helps in hitting the ball at high speed in the opposite direction. It will help the ball bounce on the ground so the opponent might miss the pickleball shot. This is done very smartly because the player can end up making a mistake.
This is a common term used by pickleball players, and the action is performed by moving the ball in the same direction as the paddle. The ball does not bounce on the ground and moves in the forward direction when hit by the paddle during the game. This pickleball shot is commonly used by players who have a fast playing style.
The centerline is the area near the pickleball net and is present at 15 feet on each side of the court. This is present between the non-volley area and the baseline. The court is divided equally by the centerline and is the most used area by the players. Even if the players are playing alone or in a team, this area is commonly used.
10. Cross Court
It is a simple term that is used when the players hit the ball diagonally. As a result, the ball will land on the opponent’s side of the court. This shot is mostly played by the players when they are playing pickleball singles. The opponent will have to cover the entire side of the court, so the chances of missing the shot are more.
11. Dead Ball
This term is commonly used in the game when any of the players commit a fault. It is done when the paddle has struck the ball, and it is declared to be a fault. The ball that commits a fault is called a dead ball by everyone present on the court. This will result in a point to the opposite team who hasn’t committed a fault.
12. Drop Spin
This shot is played by professional players in which the ball lands near the net on the opponent’s side of the court. It helps in scoring a point because the opponent isn’t able to hit the ball when it lands in the non-volley zone. The beginners or the new players cannot play this shot because they might end up hitting the ball on the net.
The term falafel is used when the player makes a shot with no power and falls right next to the net. This can be offensive because the players standing on the opposite won’t be able to hit back. Falafel is also termed as a short shot that is hit with less or no power.
14. Foot And Non-Volley Fault
The foot fault is done by the players when they touch the baseline before hitting the ball with the paddle during the game. Whereas a non-volley foot fault is committed when the players touch the non-volley area other than the baseline. These faults result in a point for the opposite team because you fail to hit the ball.
This term is used when the players hit the ball right after it bounces on the ground. It is a common term used by players when playing the game. This playing style helps the players to make the ball fall on the other side of the net. It is an advantage as the ball will land on the opponent’s side, and you won’t commit a fault. Forehand and backhand are two famous groundstroke shots in pickleball.
As mentioned above, the kitchen is another term used for a non-volley zone that is present near the center area. It covers almost 7 feet, and the players are not allowed to make a shot when standing in the pickleball kitchen. Hence it is a term used interchangeably for the non-volley area by professionals mostly.
A lob is a term that is used for a fast shot that usually passes over the head of the opponent’s head. The main reason for making this shot is that the ball falls near the baseline of the opposite side of the court, so the opponent can’t go back and hit the ball within a few seconds.
18. Mixed Doubles
The basic terms such as pickleball singles, and doubles have been explained above. Mixed doubles mean that the team consists of players of the opposite gender. It means that one team has a male and a female player playing the match together. This is a common pickleball terminology for beginners but might not be known by most people who are newbies.
19. Passing Shot
The passing shot is quite similar to the ground shot, but it is made with the intention that the opponent will not be able to hit the ball when it lands on his side of the court. This is the strategy behind making the passing shot, and the term is actually self-explanatory as well. The ball is hit from a distance so the chances of missing are more than being hit by the opponent.
A poach is a term used for crossing over the boundary or leaving your space to hit the ball. This is done during pickleball doubles because the players have a team. They come in front of each other to hit the ball so the opposite team does not gain a point.
The term shadowing is used when the players have agreed to maintain a distance of at least 10 to 12 feet between one another. This is opposite to poaching and is good as both the players cover each side of the court.
22. Two Bounce Volley
The two-bounce valley is a term that is used when both teams hit a ball after it hits the ground. After two consecutive shots, any of the teams can volley the ball. Hence, this term is not known by common people as it is something done between the matches.
Pickler is often a casual nickname used within the community to refer to someone who plays or enjoys the sport of pickleball. It’s a playful term that combines “pickleball” with “player.”
25. Nasty Nelson
Nasty Nelson is named for Timothy Nelson, which means when a serve intentionally hits the non-receiving opponent player closest to the net, resulting in a fault for the receiving team.
Volley is hitting the ball with a paddle out of the air before it bounces.
27. Half Volley
A groundstroke ball bounces but doesn’t reach maximum height before being hit.
Stacking is a strategy in pickleball doubles where both players line up or stack on the same side of the court before a serve or return. After hitting the ball, each player shifts again to their desired position.
A smash or overhead smash is a power shot that is player-made when a ball is higher than the player’s head in a downward position, specifically toward a player’s feet or body where it can’t be easily returned. The shot is used in response of Lob shot.
30. No Man’s Land Or Transition Zone
A tricky area in the midcourt between the baseline and the non-volley line is also known as the transition zone. Players can legally enter the transition zone anytime but can’t hit the ball in the air.
Erne is a shot taken by a player who is out of the court in the Out-Of-Bound area to the left or right of the sidelines. Erne is named after the inventor Erne Perry.
32. Dink Shot
A soft return shot that drops in the opponent player’s non-volley zone is called a dink.
A hinder in pickleball is an interruption during a game that affects the play, like external interference or a safety concern. When a hinder occurs, the point is typically paused and replayed to maintain fair play.
In pickleball, a “let” happens when a serve touches the net but still lands in the correct service area. The “Let” may also refer to a rally that must be replayed for any solid reason.
The rally is a continuous play that occurs before the fault and after the serve.
36. Forehand Shot
A forehand shot in pickleball is a stroke made on the same side of the body as the paddle-holding hand.
37. Backhand Shot
A backhand shot in pickleball is executed on the opposite side of the player’s dominant hand holding the paddle.
38. Third Shot Drop
In pickleball, the third shot drop is a strategic shot played softly over the net into the opponent’s kitchen, following the serve and return serve.
39. Drive Shot
A drive shot in pickleball is a powerful, flat stroke aimed at generating speed and keeping the ball low travel from midcourt to backcourt.
In pickleball, topspin refers to the forward rotation of the ball, with low to high motion, resulting in the ball’s spin.
People Also Ask
What Does Falafel Mean In Pickleball?
Falafel is a term used for making short shots that end up near the court but on the opposite side of the court. This term is mostly used in pickleball singles or skinny singles.
Why Is The Kitchen Called A Kitchen In Pickleball?
The non-volley zone is also called a kitchen, but there is no specific reason behind using this term. This term was borrowed from shuffleboard and is used in pickleball now.
What Can You Not Do In Pickleball?
There are rules for playing pickleball, just like the other games played on the court. The most known rule is that the players cannot enter the kitchen and pass the baseline area.
What Is A Chop In Pickleball?
Backspin is also called a slice or chop in pickleball. The spin is achieved by applying a high or low motion to the ball, which results in the ball spinning in the other direction. Another term related to backspin is called backswing when a player moves the paddle in a backward direction in preparation for the next move.
What Is A Bert In Pickleball?
A Bert shot is the same as Erne in pickleball. Bert means taking an Erne shot from your teammate’s side of the court rather than your own. Bert is an advanced shot. A Bert shot involves a player that crosses the court by avoiding the non-volley zone and hitting the ball at the net to the opponent player’s feet.
What Is A Volley In Pickleball?
A volley in pickleball is a shot that is hit without letting the ball bounce on the court. It is executed in the air, often near the net, and requires good timing and precision. This technique can add an aggressive element to the game and is used to put opponents on the defensive.
What Is An ATP In Pickleball?
ATP in pickleball refers to the “Around the Post” shot, a legal play where the ball is hit around the net post, outside the court boundaries, but still lands within the court’s boundary lines. It is an advanced technique that can surprise opponents and is often used to bypass a player at the net.
What Are Some Funny Pickleball Terms?
Most pickleball terms and phrases are official, but some are just pickleball slang that becomes popular with time. These funny pickleball terms or sayings include Falafel, Flapjack, Kitchen, Pickle, Pickled, Pickledome, Pickler, Volley llama, Beer Bracket, Retirement, Golden Pickle, and Banger.
A detailed article with some pickleball terminologies is given so you understand the game better. All these terms will increase your knowledge related to this game. Even if you are a newbie or plan on playing pickleball, you can read the article thoroughly to understand the basics before stepping onto the court. The information shared in the article above will also help people to differentiate between the games that are similar to pickleball.
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The writer is a biologist by profession but has a spark for writing and giving life to her words. She’s been in the field for the last 4 years and has so many achievements in her name. She loves to write about sports. Her recent experiences are in niches like football, pickleball, baseball, golf, car racing, tennis, table tennis, etc.