Every sport has its unique language, and pickleball is no exception. Whether you’re a newbie looking to get started or an experienced player aiming to enhance your game, understanding the common terms used in pickleball can be incredibly beneficial. Below, we break down some of the essential phrases and words to help you navigate the world of pickleball with confidence.


In pickleball, a serve is the action used to begin the point. The serve must be hit underhand and diagonally across the court. A key thing to remember is that the serve must clear the non-volley zone, often referred to as the kitchen.

The Kitchen

Speaking of the kitchen, this term refers to the non-volley zone. It's the area 7 feet from the net on both sides. Players cannot volley the ball (hit it in the air without letting it bounce first) while standing in this zone.


A volley in pickleball means hitting the ball in the air without letting it bounce on the court first. Remember, no volleying is allowed when a player is in the kitchen.


A dink is a soft shot that is intended to arc over the net and land in the opponent's non-volley zone or kitchen. It’s a strategic move used to move opponents out of their position and is pivotal in the game’s strategy.


A rally refers to the continuous exchange of the ball between players or teams after the serve and before the point is scored.

Side Out

A side out occurs when the serving team loses the point, resulting in the other team getting the opportunity to serve and potentially score points.

Third Shot Drop

The third shot drop is a strategy where the serving team hits a soft shot (often a dink) on the third hit to allow them time to approach the net and get into a better offensive position.


A drive is a fast, low shot intended to speed up the pace and catch the opponents off guard. It contrasts the dink’s slow and strategic nature.

Wrapping Up

Understanding these basic terms can greatly enhance your enjoyment and comprehension of pickleball. As you delve deeper into this exciting sport, you'll likely encounter more terms and strategies that will enrich your playing experience. Just like mastering the dink and the drive, learning the lingo is a vital part of becoming a seasoned pickleball player. Grab your paddle, and let’s hit the courts!