What Is The Double Bounce Rule In Pickleball?

To play well in pickleball, you need to play by the rules. We already covered the ins and outs of the how to keep score in pickleball, but one of the most notorious pickleball rules you should dig into is the double bounce rule. If you are new to the game, we understand that you will need answers to several questions about the rule.

Important questions like: what is the double bounce rule and what is the purpose of the double bounce rule?

mixed doubles team playing in a pickleball match observing the double bounce rule

What is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball (aka the two bounce rule)?

The Pickleball Double Bounce Rule dictates how the ball is served and returned at the beginning of each point. It stipulates that after the ball is served, each side must make one groundstroke before volleying the ball. This indicates that players must let the ball bounce before they hit the ball.

According to the official tournament rule of International Federation of Pickleball (IFP), the rule is stated thus:

Double Bounce Rule – The serve and the service return must be allowed to bounce before striking the ball. That is, each side must play a groundball on the first shot following the serve. After the initial groundstrokes have been made, play may include volleys.

If you’ve been playing for a while, you’ll understand what the rule is all about. If you find it confusing, hang on as we will explain further. You should know at this point, however, that a ‘volley,’ as stated in the rule, is a shot that is made when the ball has not bounced. That means hitting the ball in mid-air before it bounces on your side of the court. A groundstroke, on the other hand, is a shot that is made after the ball has bounced.

The implication of Double Bounce: the Serve and the Return

The first thing to understand about the double bounce rule is that it relates to the first two shots after the ball has been served for a point. In simple terms, it means that each team will play their first shot off of the bounce. This means that the receiving team must let the served ball bounce before playing, and the serving team must also let the returned ball bounce before playing. It is only after the ball has bounced on each side of the court that volleys can be allowed.

Step By Step Illustration of the Two Bounce Rule

Chances are you already understand what the Double Bounce Rule implies. If, by any chance, you are still a little confused, the steps above should make things clearer.

To observe the Double Bounce Rule, the following steps must be followed:

  • One player serves the ball to the opposite side
  • The receiving team must let the ball bounce before returning it back to the serving team
  • Then the serving team must let the ball bounce one more time before returning it
  • As the ball has bounced on each side, the rule has been observed, so volleys and groundstrokes are allowed until the point is won.

What Is The Purpose Of The Double Bounce Rule in pickleball?

Many beginners don’t understand why the double bounce rule exists. If you are wondering what the real purpose of the rule is:

The first thing you should know about sports rules is that they are made to make the games playable, enjoyable and safe.

This rule in particular makes the game progress naturally without giving any side an undue advantage. Without the rule, it would be very frustrating to play pickleball, and the points would be so short that no one would actually enjoy the game.

Without the double bounce rule, imagine how the points would be played: The receiving side would likely wait for a service at the kitchen line and return the serve in a manner that the serving side would find very difficult or even impossible to cope with. A high serve will most likely be smashed back at the serving team. A soft serve, also, could be dinked just over the net, which will be difficult to deal with since the serving side will have to sprint to the net from the baseline. Hence the ball must bounce before returning.

Basically, what the double bounce rule does is eliminate the serve and volley advantage, which is important at the beginning of a point. Ultimately, it will facilitate longer rallies, as it allows the game to transition smoothly. While it doesn’t make the game very predictable, it sets the tune for predictable progress that will give each team the time and space to get into the right position.

Coping with the Rule as a Beginner

If you have never played Pickleball or related games, it can be challenging to get used to the double bounce rule.

It may not feel like the natural way to play if you are just starting with the sport, but once you gain experience, it will become very natural. How will you cope in the early days and avoid the awkward moments and laughter you will attract any time you break the rule?

The best way to cope with the double bounce rule is to be a little more patient when you are playing.

When you are returning a serve, it is best to stand far back in the court. You can even take a few steps backward to remind yourself that you need to play groundstroke first.

If you are serving, it is crucial that you don’t move up too quickly after the serve. Since you are going to wait for the returning shot to bounce, don’t approach the net hastily as it can force you to inadvertently hit the ball before it bounces.

Like other sports, Pickleball has a set of rules that makes it playable and enjoyable. The Double Bounce Rule is one of the essential rules you must understand and apply. It may be difficult in the early days, but you will eventually cope and start enjoying pickleball as you become more experienced.

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