The Double Bounce rule is one of the most important rules that every player must be familiar with in a game of pickleball. Though pickleball has been described by many as very similar in style and rules as tennis or badminton, it has several distinctions. These distinctions make pickleball not only a unique type of sport but also make it more enjoyable for the players and the fans watching each game.

The International Federation of Pickleball officially established the Double Bounce rule for the game. It is one of the main rules that players of pickleball need to master before they can play the game. It is among the basic rules to observe along with proper serve, volleys, fault, scoring, player positions, and movements.

The Double Bounce rule consists of any play that must be executed off a bounce. This can be from a serve and during the return shot of the team that served. Unlike in tennis wherein players can approach the net to volley the ball back to the opposing court, you cannot do the same in pickleball. The general rule in this sport is to allow the ball to bounce off the floor at least once before you return it to the opposing side of the court. This showcases how cunning the game of pickleball is, and it requires players to not only be quick on their feet but in their gameplay smarts, too.

When the Double Bounce rule was established, the objective was to encourage longer rallies. As any fan would agree, longer rallies mean more exciting plays. It is important to note that the Double Bounce rule can be a misnomer. You do not have to literally let the ball bounce twice on the floor (especially when it is on your side of the court). If this happens, you automatically lose a point to the opponent. The Double Bounce term refers to the bounce on each side of the court (your side and that of your opponent’s side). For new pickleball players, this rule can take a little getting used to. It is important to take a closer look at this rule and how it applies to the game.

Serving and Returning

The service game and return shot are two components of a pickleball game that are directly impacted by the Double Bounce Rule. In order to stop violating this rule, you need to learn the proper way to serve and return the ball during play.

When you serve the ball, always do so behind the baseline of the court. The service must cross the net and bounce once before the opposing team or player returns the ball to your side of the court. When you go back to your position following a service, you need to let the ball bounce once, too.

The receiving player or team (from the serve) is not allowed to volley or smash the ball immediately by approaching the net. You might be tempted to do so because this is part of your natural instinct to return the ball. But when you hit the ball without letting it bounce once, your opponent will automatically earn the point. Once the ball has hit the ground once, you can choose to smash or volley the ball. But since ‘volley’ in tennis is described as a shot made before the ball hits the ground, the definition of volley in pickleball is different. It simply refers to the stroke of the hit on your return shot.

Tips for Remembering the Double Bounce Rule

Without the Double Bounce rule, pickleball points would be short and not quite exciting. The objective behind this rule is, therefore, to make things extra challenging for the teams who are playing. At the same time, it enables the serving team to get back into position before the opposing side returns the ball to their court. Without this rule, it will be too frustrating to play for both sides.


While it may be fun to watch, it can be frustrating for a player to remember the rule when in the court (especially if you are new to the sport). You can follow these tips to be able to enjoy each game to the fullest, and to minimize your errors:

  • The most basic tip to help you remember the Double Bounce rule is to stand as far back from the net as possible. This is true when you are anticipating the serve from your opponent. By being far enough from the net, you will not be tempted to approach it and return the serve immediately. This will give enough time for the ball to land one groundstroke before you hit it with the paddle. You can use the baseline as your guide as to how far back you should stand from the net.

  • You should make a conscious effort to step backward after returning a shot. This will help you re-establish the position that is closer to the baseline. Again, it is the same philosophy as the tip above–to give adequate space from the net, allowing the ball to bounce once before hitting it.

  • Another reason why stepping backward after returning a shot makes sense is that moving forward is easier than backward during play. When the ball lands behind you, it is difficult to catch it if you have to move backward. Your forward motion is easier to achieve so you can still catch the ball after it bounces when you are moving forward towards it. When you stand along the baseline, you also have a full view of the court. You will be able to see exactly where the ball lands and have enough time to react to it, rather than trying to catch it before it hits the ground.

Mastering the art of playing pickleball is challenging at the start. But once you can get familiar with it, it should be fun and exciting to play!

Have you played a game of pickleball? What was the most challenging aspect of it?

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