Pickleball Terminology and Slang

Pickleball is a relatively new sport. But while it is fairly new, its popularity has grown quite extensively. When you want to engage in this type of sport, one of the things you need to do is to familiarize yourself with the rules of the sport. Knowing the terminology and slang for this sport will also help provide you with important knowledge about the game.

Pickleball Techniques and Skills Terms

These are the terms used in a game of pickleball that refers to the basic techniques or shots that you must execute. Since the first step to learning the sport is to master these basic skills and techniques, it pays to know the terms, too.

  • Ace – This is a universal term for any sports that involve serving the ball. This is a type of serve that the opposing team or player unsuccessfully returns to the other side of the court.
  • Approach Shot – This is a type of shot that is executed by a player who is running towards the net. This type of shot can either be a backhand or forehand.
  • Serve – A serve is the starting point for any play. During a serve, the player must start out from behind the baseline. When a player earns the serve, it means that they have won the previous point.
  • Backcourt – This is the area of the court located near the baseline.
  • Backspin – This type of pickleball shot is also called a slice or chop. This is achieved by applying spin to a ball using a high or low motion. This causes the ball to spin to another direction.
  • Backswing – This type of move is when the player moves the paddle backward in preparation for the next shot.
  • Backhand – This is a type of shot in pickleball wherein the ball is hit on the opposite side of the player’s dominant forehand.
  • Carry – This type of shot is when the ball is hit using a forward swing without allowing it to bounce off the court.
  • Dead Ball – This term is used to refer to a dead play, or when a point is scored by one of the teams.
  • Dink Shot – This is a type of shot that arcs over the net. It usually lands on the non-volley zone of the opposing team.

  • Doubles – This is a type of game that is played by two players on each side. The team can be composed of men, women, or mixed.
  • Double Bounce – This is the most basic rule of pickleball: to not let the ball bounce on the court twice. When this happens, it is an automatic point for the opposing team.
  • Down the Line – This is a type of shot that is placed parallel to the baseline. It is usually one of the hardest shots to receive.
  • Drop Shot – This is a type of soft shot that is usually straight in direction but low in trajectory.
  • Drop Spin – This is an advanced skill for expert pickleball players. It tends to drop sharply across the net.
  • Forehand – This type of shot is defined as a stroke that is consistent with the side of the body where your paddle is.
  • Game – It refers to a series of plays that are executed by each team. A game is complete once one team has scored 11 points (and must have a 2-point margin).
  • Overhead Shot – This is a type of shot that is executed with the paddle above the head. This allows the offensive player to direct the ball downwards in a fast motion, making it difficult to catch for the opposing team.
  • Technical Foul – A team earns a point when the opposing team is called for a technical foul. It is usually given by the referee when one team or player violates the standard rules of play. This can be the use of abusive language or any unsportsmanlike conduct.

Pickleball Court Terms

The court is a huge component of a pickleball game. Here are some of the terms and slang used by pickleball players in reference to the court being played in:

  • Baseline – This refers to the line at the back of the court. When serving, your foot must be behind this line.
  • Sideline – This refers to the line on opposing sides of the court. The ball must be kept inside the court for the play to be live.
  • Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen – This refers to that area in the court that is seven feet from both sides of the net. As the name implies, players are not allowed to execute a volley shot while inside this area.
  • No Man’s Land – This is the space between the no-volley zone and the baseline. This is considered the most dangerous part of the court as it is also the largest zone. There are plenty of open spots for the opposing players to drop the ball here.
  • Centerline – This is the line that divides the court into two halves: the non-volley zone and the backcourt.
  • Cross Court – This is the area of the court that is diagonal to the position of the player on court.

Pickleball Play Terms

Just like tennis, pickleball can be played individually or as a team. During a doubles game, proper communication inside the court is important. These are the useful terms that will enable you to communicate with your teammate:

  • Side Out – Side Out is when a team has the ball out of bounds during play. When this call is made, it means that the opposing team earns the chance to serve the ball.
  • Setup – This is a technique used by players of pickleball to deceive the opposing player’s defense. You are manipulating the defense to guard a certain area when in fact you are directing the ball to another.
  • Rally – This is a consecutive streak of shots that are played by both teams before a point is scored.
  • Fault – This is any type of violation of any rules that results in a point for the opposing team (of the one that committed the fault).
  • Put Away – This is when one player from a team closes a point for their team.
  • Get – This is a term used to refer to a point that was difficult to get, yet a player manages to score that point.
  • “Bounce It” – This is a type of play called wherein you do not hit the ball and instead let it go out of bounds.

Are you interested to play pickleball? If so, make sure you master these terms and definitions to use as a guide in mastering the skills needed to excel at this sport.


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