The Definitive Glossary of Pickleball Terms and Definitions

With a name like pickleball you know some of the slang has to be good!

Don’t be confused again.


Here is a complete glossary of all of the pickleball terms and definitions, terminology, phrase, slang, argot, lingo, colloquialism, jargon and vernacular.

In easy to find alphabetical order:

Ace – a serve that isn’t returned to win a point.

Approach shot – hitting the ball as you move or run forward towards the net.

Around the post – hitting the ball outside the width of the pickleball net.

Backcourt – the area of the court close to the baseline.

Backhand – a swing of the paddle from the non-dominant side.

Backspin – hitting the ball in a downward arc that causes the ball to spin backwards. When these hits land they don’t travel as far as if they are hit with regular spin. Could catch your opponent off guard.

Backswing – bringing the paddle back when getting geared up for hitting the pickleball

Banger – a player who generally hits the ball hard repeatedly.

Baseline – the back line of the court which is 22 feet away from the net.

Bounce it – said when you want your partner to let the ball go — hopefully out of bounds.

Beer bracket – when you lose early in a tournament and can sit back and enjoy the tournament with a beer.

Carry – a hit off the paddle that doesn’t bounce off the paddle as it normally does, the ball rides up the paddle (is carried by it) as the player swings forward.

Centerline – the line in the center of the court perpendicular to the net. That’s an easy one to remember!

Champion shot – when the pickleball ball bounces twice in the non-volley zone

Chop – hitting the ball to put backspin on it. Accomplished with a chopping downward motion.

Crosscourt – if you are standing on the right side of the court facing the net, it is the side on your left on the other side of the net. If you’re on the left, it’s the right side of the court on the other side of the pickleball net.

Dead ball – when the point is over and the ball goes out of play

Dill ball – a standard shot that has bounced once on the opposing team’s side that is in play.

Dink – a soft hit that makes the ball land in the non-volley zone. Aka a drop shot.

(A) Dinker – a player who generally hits softly.

Doubles – a pickleball game with 4 players.

Double bounce – when a ball bounces twice or more before being returned which means it’s a dead ball. The team that let the ball bounce twice loses the point.

Double hit – whenever one team hits it twice before returning it. The player who hits it twice loses the point.

Down the line – when a pickleball is hit very close to and parallel to one of the side lines.

Drive – a strong, straight shot that goes far into the court of the other team.

Drop shot – soft shot that lands in front of the other team’s player(s) usually in the kitchen/non-volley zone. Aka a dink.

Drop spin – hitting the pickleball so it spins in such a way as to drop quickly once over the net

Erne – a shot hit close to the net while a player is standing outside of the court to the side. It’s a quick, fast shot.

Face – the front/back of the paddle

Falafel – a bad bounce off of a paddle that doesn’t go very far and dies

Fault – violation of a rule that ends a point.

Flapjack – a shot that has to bounce, during the 2 bounce rule.

Flat face – holding the face of the paddle parallel to the net

Foot fault – when serving you can’t step onto the court or baseline until after you have hit the ball with your paddle and served. Or this could be when a player is in the midst of a point and they step into the non-volley zone or the non-volley zone line.

Follow through – completing your swing after your paddle hits the pickleball

Forehand – hitting the ball on your dominant side

Game – played to 11, 15, or 21, but always winning by 2.

Grip – how you hold your paddle or could refer to the actual grip of your paddle itself. There are a bunch of styles of grips including grips you can add to your paddle after the fact in order to get it to the right size and feel for your hand and game. I detail the continental, western and eastern grips here. Your paddle grip could also be referring to the physical grip on the handle of your paddle. If you need to adjust your grip size: Best Paddle Grips and Overgrips

Groundstroke – when you hit the pickleball after it bounces

Half-volley hitting the ball low to the ground, a split second after it bounces on the ground.

Head – the face and the paddle edge

(A) Hinder – anything that disrupts the play of a point

Indoor pickleball – pickleballs are either made to be played indoors or outdoors. Best Indoor Pickleballs.

Kitchen – another name for the non-volley zone. You’re not allowed to hit balls in the air while standing in this area.

Junior player – pickleball players that are between the ages of 7 and 19 (defined by the USAPA)

Let – when the serve strikes the top of the net but then lands in bounds on the other side of the net. The serve is then re-done.

Line calls – yelling out if a ball that bounces close to the line is in or out

Lob – a hard, high, deep shot as far back in the other team’s court as possible. Good to try when your opponent is close up to the net.

Midcourt – basically around the centerline

Non-volley zone – aka the Kitchen. It’s the 7 feet on either side of the net. You are not allowed to volley the pickleball in this area.

Overhead shot – hitting the ball above your head.

Overhead slam – just like an overhead shot but hard and strong!

Opa! – can be said after the third shot after the serve when the ball is now available for open volleying.

Open face – when the paddle is held tilting upwards a bit

Outdoor pickleball – pickleballs are made to be played either indoors or outdoors. Best Outdoor Pickleballs.

Paddle – the thing you hold in your hands to hit the balls. Pretty obvious. Might be (incorrectly) called a racket – which you might see spelled as racquet too. That can come about due to other sports that share some similarities with pickleball – see Pickleball vs Paddle Tennis.

Paddle Cover – usually a neoprene cover that you put over your paddle face in between games to protect your paddle. Best Paddle Covers.

Passing shot – a shot which is meant to get past the opposing players without them returning it.

Pickle! – can be said when about to serve to make sure everyone knows what’s coming.

PIckleball Paddle Set or Pickleball Set – generally refers to a set of pickleball equipment that you can buy that will usually include either 2 or 4 pickleball paddles, 4 pickleballs and perhaps a bag to carry it all together. We’ve got reviews of the best pickleball paddle sets here.

Pickled – when a team loses the game and has scored 0 points.

Pickledome – the main court where the final game in a pickleball tournament is played.

Pickler – someone who loves loves loves pickleball.

Poach – jumping over into your partner’s side of the court to return a shot.

Put away – shot where one side is not able to return the ball

(A) Punch – a fast hit that is done with little movement of the paddle.

Rally – an entire point from serve to the end of the point.

Rally scoring – a non-standard way of scoring where whoever wins the point gets the add one to their score and takes over the serving.

Ready position – fully ready and in position to receive a hit or serve.

Receiver – the player who is on the opposite side of the court, diagonal to the server.

Replays – replaying a point for any reason.

Second serve – the serve that is done after a fault.

Serve – hitting the ball with an upward and forward motion, while the ball is below waist level, across the net to the opposing side in order to start the pickleball point.

Server number – either 1 or 2. Used to track which server is serving for each team.

Service court – the area on the court besides the kitchen or non-volley zone.

Service out side scoring – the rule that says only the serving side of the court can score.

Shadowing – staying in sync with your partner during doubles by staying generally about the same distance apart and the same distance from the net.

Sideline – the lines along the right and left sides that mark off what is out of bounds.

Side out – when the serving team loses a point and the other team then takes over serving.

Slice – hitting down with the paddle as you hit forward to create backspin on the pickleball.

Smash – a hard hit above the head, like a tennis serve.

Split stance – standing in the ready position with feet perpendicular to the net and spaced in a slightly wide stance.

Stroke – swinging the paddle.

Technical foul – penalty called on a team by a ref during a tournament.

Third drop shot – a shot after the third shot that allows for the serving team to get up to the kitchen.

Top spin – swinging up as you hit the ball to put forward spin on the ball. When the ball lands it will bounce forward faster.

Two bounce rule – after a serve, the receiving team has to let the ball bounce, then they must hit it back to the serving team who must also let it bounce. At that point it is a free for all, you don’t have to let the ball bounce again and can hit it out of the air.

Transition zone – the space between the kitchen and the baseline. You are usually passing through this space as you move from the baseline to closer to the net and kitchen.

USAPA Approved Pickleball Equipment – The USAPA creates a list of approved equipment that can be used in tournaments. You can find the complete list of approved USAPA pickleball paddles and requirements here.

Volley – hitting the ball before it bounces.

Volley llama – when a player hits a volley in the Kitchen. Not a legal play.

There you have it! You are now a master at pickleball terminology.

And now that you’re an expert, head on over to check out some pickleball jokes and memes!

(Featured image source.)

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