Pickleball Terms | Definitions & Glossary

Kitchen, chop, OPA…! And you were probably not expecting these words on a sports court, right? Well, surprisingly though, these are some of the pickleball terms which are kind of weird but interesting. Not so surprisingly, you are not the first one to find these terms and definitions unique and fortunately, you’re at the right place to learn about them all so let’s just begin.

Pickleball is one of those games that uses the weirdest terminologies but that is exactly what makes it unique from other tennis sports. Even though, some of these phrases and terms are quite common among the sports communities. However, as a beginner to the game, this is the “must-know” pickleball lingo, vocabulary, definition, and the terms that we have given in this article for you to read, learn and add to your daily vocabs to play the game better and more professionally. Here we go!

Image source: SportsEdTV

Pickle terms

Well, there are hundreds of terminologies and words but are you ready to capacitate yourself with all of them in a one-time read? Definitely No! And that’s why here is the easy way. We have divided the terms into sections for strategies and gameplays, shots, and serves, paddles and courts, and other miscellaneous terms.


  • Court: The court is the diagonal area where you play pickleball. 
  • Singles: When two people play pickleball one on each side of the court, it is called singles. 
  • Doubles: A game of pickleball when played by four people with two players in each team is said as the “doubles”. 
  • Serve: Hitting the ball as per the rules of USAPA (underhand and below the waist level) is called serve in pickleball. 
  • Paddle: Paddles are the word used for the pickleball racquets by which the game is played. 
  • Balls: Wiffle balls or plastic balls built with holes in them are used in pickleball.

Strategies & Gameplays:

  • Chop: A technique to put a backspin on the pickleball by slicing the ball high to low. 
  • Double bounce: A double bounce is a ball being bounced two times on each side of the court. It is one of the basic rules of pickleball without which pickleball cannot be played. 
  • Fault: When errors are made or you break the rules in pickleball, they are referred to as faults. Ultimately, at each fault, the game gets stopped. 
  • Pickle!: It is an alert that calls all the players on the court to make their serve i.e when it is shouted “Pickle!” on the court, the serving team makes their service to the opposing team. 
  • Pickled: Just like whitewash in cricket or skunked in basketball, there’s “pickled” in pickleball. It means you have played the game without making a single score and it is usually 11-0. 
  • Poach: Poaching is one of the double techniques, in which one teammate takes the place of the other to hit the shot.
  • Rally: The ongoing period of play from the moment the ball gets served until one of the team makes a fault and the game stops. 
  • Rating: For the professional and league players; a rating is the player’s personal gaming score calculated and given by the USAPA. 
  • Stacking:  Stacking is one of the magical doubles strategies of pickleball where the powerful one hits the ball in the area that lies in the middle of both teammates.

Terms for Shots & Serving:

  • Ace: Ace in pickleball is a bonus point that the serving side gets when the opponent failed to deliver back the ball. 
  • Approach shot: The approach shot is a moving shot just like you are “approaching” the nets when hitting the ball. 
  • Backhand: A backhand shot is simply the shot made by the opposite side of the dominant hand with which the players hit the shot.
  • Backspin: Backspin is one of the spinning techniques in which the player strikes the ball with high to low motion causing the ball to spin and then direct it in a way that ends up getting to the opposite of where it was originally intended to go. 
  • Backswing: The backswing is when you swing your arm backward such that the paddles move in the backward motion before the forward motion. 
  • Carry: When in the forward swing, “carry” is the word used for the ball that is not bounced completely off the paddle. Instead, it just slides or carries along with the face of the paddle. 
  • Dill ball: Dill ball is a live ball and it is the shot that has only bounced once within the inbound. 
  • Dink: The most popular term of pickleball – Dink is a soft shot that is hit to arc over the net where the player will be sending it back to the opposite side with the ball intended to bounce in the kitchen first. 
  • Down the line: The shot that runs parallel to the sideline is referred to as “down the line” 
  • Drive: It is a harder groundstroke that is hit from the forehand and is intended towards opposing the backcourt. 
  • Drop shot volley: A drop shot volley is similar to a drop shot where the technique is applied while returning the volley. In the drop shot volley, the player will consume all the energy of the ball coming from the opposite side and then form the shot with low power such that it ends up in a short range. 
  • Drop shot: A drop shot has enough range to reach the net but not that much to reach the opposition, hence the short length makes the opposite drop the shot. 
  • Flabjack: Flapjack is a shot that a player must bounce before it is hit. 
  • Falafel: It is a shot with no power and is a funny pickleball term. Usually, this is the shot that doesn’t reach the opposite side of the net as the required power hasn’t been applied to the ball. 
  • Groundstroke: Groundtroke is the shot that is made just after one bounce around the baseline. 
  • Half volley: As the name explains, half volley is when the ball is at the half of reaching the full bounce length. It is similar to the groundstroke expect that the player has to hit the ball just after it is bounced on the ground. 
  • Let: Let is a kind of service that accidentally hits the cord and falls on the player’s own zone. However, pickleball let shots are always replayed i.e they are not included in faults. 
  • Lob: Lob is an extremely high and extremely deep shot that passes over the head of the opponent. It is the technique to let the opponents lose their position as they will run after the ball. 
  • Punch: The punch shot is a fast shot with a little bit of the backswing just like stabbing the ball right in the air. 
  • Smash:  An overhead shot is being hit hard above the hitter’s head. 
  • Third shot: A third shot is when the serving team again hits the shot while it has been hit by the receivers. Since it is the third shot on the court i.e 1st by the serving team, 2nd by the receivers, and 3rd by the serving team again hence it is called the third shot. 
  • Topspin: Topspin is a spinning shot that players form by striking the ball in low to high motion. 
  • Volley:  Hitting the ball before it bounces is called a volley.

Paddles & Courts:

  • Backcourt: The backcourt is the closest area to the baseline at some feet.
  • Flat face: When you keep the paddle’s surface area aligned with the net, it is called the flat face. 
  • Grip: The grip is the cushioning material under which the handle is enclosed. It is also the way you hold your paddle. 
  • Head: The head is the hitting surface area of the paddle just above the handles. 
  • Kitchen: It is a pickleball slang term that refers to the non-volley zone. It is the area at 7 feet from the nets on both sides of the court. 
  • Lines:  There are three types of lines in each pickleball court and these are; 
  • Baseline: The baseline in pickleball is the lines at the back of the court and parallel to the net. Crossing the baseline is not allowed in pickleball when you serve unless you want to make a fault. 
  • Centerline: Centerline, as per the name, divide the court into two parts and it is the line drawn from the non-volley zone to the baseline. 
  • Sideline: A sideline is a perpendicular line from the net. It set apart the playing zone from the out-of-bounds area. 
  • Midcourt: The area between the non-volley zone and the baseline. 
  • Permanent object: Permanent objects are those objects that affect the gameplay or get in with the ball when in the air. These objects can be anything in the ground from fences, lights, fixtures, and bleachers to the referee or even the spectators. 
  • Pickledome: Pickledome is the term used for the court where the tournament or league matches are played.

Other Miscellaneous Terms:

  • Bounce it: Instruction; a player to a player conversation where one thinks it is going to be inbound so it instructs the player to not hit the ball so that it can bounce. 
  • EEC: Equipment Evaluation Committee of the USAPA.
  • Dead ball: A dead ball is a ball that you can no longer play. It is declared after a fault. 
  • Line calls: It is an indication for the bounce rule as if the ball is bounced “in bounce” or “out of the bounce”. It is usually announced loud by the players or teams on their respective sides. 
  • OPA!: The word “OPA” is shouted to begin the non-volleying. As per the rule, it is been shouted after the third shot. 
  • Pickler: Players in pickleball are called “Picklers”. Though not everyone can earn this title, it is used for real pickleball freaks! 
  • Technical foul:  A technical foul is when the referee adds one additional point to a team’s scorecard when a serious rule has been violated by the opponent’s team. 
  • Technical warning: A technical warning is given before announcing a “technical foul”. Though, no actions will be taken on the warning unless the team keeps breaking the rules. 
  • Ten-second rule: After the score is called by the referee, the serving player will be given to hit the shot. From the 11th second, the service will be counted as a fault. 
  • Verbal warning: A verbal warning is a one-time warning given to each side of the player when there’s a violation of the rule.

Pickleball terms; Wrap up:

Though, this is, by far, the most detailed and complete list of the pickleball terms that we have covered in this article. Marking from the basics to strategies, gameplay, shots, rules, and the terms used in and for courts almost every phrase and term was there and hopefully, you now have a better understanding of why they are named and what they are named. However, you can tell us in the comments if we are missing out on any of the pickleball sayings or vocabs, we’d love to add it over here!

Besides, you can now head to pickleball rules and strategies to get better at your game. Good luck!

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