Common Pickleball Mistakes to Avoid
Being familiar with all of the pickleball rules may seem impossible at first. Knowing when to make contact with the ball to avoid a penalty and trying not to commit a foul can take some practice.
Remember the first time you learned how to drive a car. You had to remind yourself to look in your rearview mirror while keeping your hands at 10 and 2 without forgetting to signal before you change lanes.
Below, you’ll find a handful of pickleball faults that players should be familiar with before stepping onto the court.
1. Contact With The Net
Net contact is prohibited at all times during play. Both teams must avoid all contact with the net or net pole. If the player’s clothes, shoes, paddle, or any part of the player body makes contact with the net or net pole, a fault is recorded for that team. This fault can be avoided by keeping a good distance from the net and the pole area.
Recommended Exercises to Avoid Pickleball Net Contact
Reactive stepping is a great exercise to increase leg strength and shorten reaction time. Players will often contact the net when they are charging forward to return a dink.
To stop yourself from running into the net try some deceleration drills and step down exercises.
2. The Ball is Volleyed Before Bouncing
This fault occurs during service.
The service rule says that the ball must bounce on the receiving team’s court before being hit back to the serving team’s side of the court. After returning the serve the ball again must bounce once before being volleyed — this is called the double bounce rule (see also ‘What Is The Double Bounce Rule In Pickleball?‘).
When the ball is played without bouncing, a fault will be recorded for the team that didn’t let the ball bounce.
Watch this short tutorial video:
3. Ball Lands Outside the Baseline and Sidelines
When a service is made and the ball lands behind the baseline or sideline, the server has committed a fault.
Of course, a fault is also recorded for the returning team in the same situation. In other words, the foul is incurred by the team who served the ball or played the ball into the baseline or sideline.
4. Service Is Made by The Wrong Team Member
In pickleball, there is a rule or pattern used when serving by team members. If a service or return is made by the wrong team member, a fault is recorded.
Normally, the team member from the right corner of the court serves the ball first, then switches sides with their partner if a point is scored; the server continues to serve the ball until a fault occurs.
When a team member commits a fault again, the opposing team similarly serves the ball, following the proper service sequence until that team incurs a fault, and so on.
5. The Ball Is Hit Into The Net
A fault also occurs if the ball is struck into the net before crossing over and reaching the receiving team’s side of the court, or if the opposing team returns the ball into the net. Whichever the case, when the ball hits the net, a fault is called against the team who struck the net as they violated the no net contact rule of the game.
6. The Ball Strikes an Object Outside of the Court
Naturally, the ball should remain only within the court’s boundaries and can not touch the ceiling, doors, fence, or any other barrier or object surrounding an inside court. Of course, the fault is committed by the team who last hit the ball before it struck an object.
7. Entering the Non-Volley Zone Before a Bounce
If a player accidentally enters the non-volley zone during a dinking game, or when a player makes contact with he ball before it has bounced, a fault has been committed. To avoid this, the player should ensure both feet are placed outside of the non-volley zone line prior to hitting the ball.
This fault sometimes occurs in tournaments when, after winning the last point, the player enters the non-volley zone out of excitement before the game is officially over. A player may also enter this zone simply due to a momentum shift during gameplay. Whatever the case may be, the opposing team automatically earns a point after a fault is called.
8. Volleying the Ball From the Non-Volley Zone
The non-volley zone, AKA the kitchen, is about seven feet from the net. Basically, this space remains as the non-volley zone until the ball makes a bounce. After the bounce, the area then becomes the kitchen (see also ‘How Big Is The Kitchen In Pickleball?‘) and the player may enter to volley the ball. If the player doesn’t allow the ball to bounce prior to entering the kitchen, they will have committed a fault.
Although pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports, the rules and faults are not well known to most people.
As a beginner, it may seem difficult to learn all of the pickleball faults; though all it really takes is some regular practice, especially if you already mastered the basics of tennis or badminton.
That said, it is very important to learn the rules of the game before playing, as it will make the game much more enjoyable for both yourself and the opponent. Abiding by the rules and knowing how to avoid faults is the first step in becoming a pickleball expert.