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Pickleball Rules: What to Say On the Pickleball Court

Pickleball Rules: What to Say On the Pickleball Court

  • We've all encountered a chatty Cathy (or Clive) on the pickleball court – maybe we've even been them ourselves! While silence isn't exactly the goal (pickleball is fun!), there's definitely an art to what you say on the court. This guide will help you navigate those conversations, keeping things friendly and the game flowing smoothly. Let's get talking (but maybe not too much talking)!



Oh, $5@!%!”

We’ve all played people on the pickleball court who were a little chatty. In some cases, you might even have been part of the chatter yourself!

Pickleball isn’t supposed to be played in silence. It is, after all, supposed to be fun! Still, some things are perfectly ok to say on the pickleball court…and some things are better to keep to yourself. 

In this guide, we will break down what you should and shouldn’t say on the pickleball court. Let’s get talking! 

Building Camaraderie: What to Say Before a Pickleball Match

Perhaps you’re dropping into open play for the first time. Maybe you’re playing with your longtime partner in a tournament or joining a league for the first time. Whatever your pickleball plan, it’s important to connect with your partner and opponents in a friendly way. 

Before the Match: Team-Building with Your Partner

Whether you know your partner well or you’re meeting them for the first time, there’s always time for some chit-chat before the match! Check-in with each other, talk a bit of strategy, and pump each other up before your match.

Before the Match: Greeting Your Opponents

Before a match, it’s customary to greet your opponent and introduce yourself. You don’t have to become best friends, but getting to know the people you’ll be spending the next hour or so with makes the game a lot more fun. 

Pickleball Rules: What to Say During a Pickleball Match

When a match begins, it’s time to get serious – but not too serious. During a match, you will need to make line calls, strategize with your partner, and offer encouragement. Here’s what to say during a pickleball match. 

Calling the Lines

When a ball lands on your side of the court, you and your partner will call the ball if it is out. 

There are several ways to call the ball out. The preferred approach is to say “out,” according to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook. Other options include words like: “wide,” deep,” “long,” or “no.”

You can also use hand signals, like holding one finger up if the ball is long or out to the side if the ball is wide. 

Calling the Score

According to the pickleball rulebook, the server must call the game score before the point begins. The serving team’s score should be called first, followed by the opponent’s team score, then the server number. For example, if you are the second server and your team is losing 2-3, you would say, “2-3-2” to call the score.

If the server calls the score incorrectly, the opponent or partner should speak up before the return is hit to question or correct the score. 

Communicating with Your Partner

It’s totally normal to chat with your partner between points to change your strategy or offer some encouragement. Occasionally, you might have to communicate with your partner while a point is in play. Here are some examples of instances where you will need to communicate with your partner while the point is progressing:

  • Calling the Ball: If a ball is within reach of both players, it is helpful to call the ball by saying, “yours,” “mine,” or“got it.” 
  • Letting it Bounce: Sometimes, your opponent hits the ball that looks like it is going out. When this happens, you or your partner might say something like, “out,” “no,”  or “bounce it” to let their opponent know that the ball might be out. This counts as player communication, and you or your partner still need to call the ball out after it bounces. 
  • Notifying a Switch: Sometimes, a shot will pull you to the opposite side of the court, forcing your partner to switch positions with you. Most partners yell “switch” when they need to alternate positions. 

Calling a Timeout

Both teams are entitled to take several timeouts throughout the course of the game. The rulebook states that each team receives two timeouts for an 11- or 15-point game and three for a 21-point game. The timeout must be called before the ball is served and can last no longer than one minute. 

Pickleball Etiquette

As with every sport, there are some unwritten – but still important – rules in pickleball. Here are some unspoken rules that will help you become everyone’s favorite person to play with or against.

Celebrate Appropriately

Yes, it’s fun to win a point in an exciting fashion. Hitting a great shot should be celebrated! Feel free to celebrate, but do so respectfully. Give your partner a high-five or a verbal kudos. Feel free to tap paddles or pump your fist, but don’t go overboard. 

Keep Safety in Mind

Sometimes, an errant ball from another match will find its way to your court. When that happens, call out “ball” to let your opponents or your partner know that there is a potential hazard on the court. When this happens, the point stops and should be played over again from the beginning. 

If you hit a shot that rolls toward someone else’s court, let them know that there is a ball heading their way. Speaking up when there are hazards on the court helps keep every player safe and helps prevent injury. 

Show Good Sportsmanship

When your opponent hits a great shot, let them know. Use appropriate language and avoid arguing. When the match is over, shake hands or, of course paddle tap with your opponents and your partner, and tell them “Good game.” A little sportsmanship goes a long way. 

Join the Conversation

Pickleball is about having fun, making friends, and staying active playing a sport you love. Communication is key. Are there any etiquette tips or rules about on-court communication that we missed? Let us know!

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