Pickleball Safety and Play Etiquette

(Adapted from Pickleball BC “Pickleball Safety and Play Etiquette”. A PDF version of this document can be found here.)


Fair play and sportsmanship are keys to success and enjoyment in any sport. To ensure safety and smooth operations on the pickleball courts, we request that you follow the following guidelines and rules:


Court Safety

  1. Wear proper court shoes.
  2. Do NOT back up on the court. Instead, turn and move sideways.
  3. Do NOT run into other active courts when playing your ball.
  4. Do NOT chase your ball through other active courts if it gets away from you.  Call “BALL ON” so people are aware that a ball might be underfoot and wait for others to return the ball.  Raise your hand or paddle so they know where to return the ball.
  5. When retrieving a loose ball, identify whose ball it is before returning it.  E.g. look for players waving at you.  Do NOT just roll, kick or flick the ball out of your way. Make eye contact and, with ball in hand, throw or hit it back (in the air) to the player identified. When possible return the ball behind the courts.
  6. STOP play immediately if a loose ball comes on your court or behind it.  Shout “BALL ON”.  Wait for the ball to be safely returned.  Then replay your rally.
  7. When going to and from a court be aware and stay well clear of other active players and courts. If you must cross a court in play, wait for the rally to end and get the attention of the players. Walk together “as a group” to quickly to minimize disruption – and don’t cross while players are getting ready to serve.
  8. Keep yourself well hydrated.

Court Etiquette

  1. Be courteous, respectful, and HAVE FUN!
    • Welcome newcomers.
    • At the beginning of the game introduce yourself, if not familiar with your partner or players.
    • Be patient with and encouraging of less skilled players.
    • Compliment other players on the court, including opponents.
    • Always thank your opponents and your playing partner when the game is over.
  2. Call the fault yourself if you or your partner land in the NVZ (kitchen) on a volley. Be cautious about calling kitchen or foot faults on your opponents – let them call their own faults.
  3. When playing in a non-competitive environment take time to occasionally play with weaker players – they will be thrilled to have the experience.
  4. If playing a stronger opponent playing with a weaker opponent during casual play, hit to the stronger opponent often. Don’t just play to the weaker opponent.  It will make you a better player plus keep the game interesting for all who are playing. For the weaker opponent, work on shots that they can return and learn from.  (It’s not always about winning).
  5. If playing against mixed partners be courteous and do not slam directly at weaker  opponents.
  6. Once your game is finished, call out “COURT” so the next group waiting knows it is their turn to play.
  7. If the play type is “Open Play”, you do not get to play with your buddies 100% of the time.  Share the fun.
  8. If the play type is “Play Rotation” (bench positions, paddle in box, board sign-up) or by Skill Level[1], understand and follow the group process laid down.
  9. Unsolicited coaching on the court is not to be done. If someone is new or asks for your input, do so briefly being mindful of the flow of the game.  It is best to instruct on a specified court after being invited.
  10. When a ball is out of bounds, call “OUT” loudly, as well as using a hand signal with your hand/arm pointing up.
  11. When courts are busy and you are “on deck”, have your foursome (or twosome if playing singles) ready to move quickly to an open court.

Pickleball RULES as well as Etiquette

  1. You must call out the score, so your opponents can hear, before serving the ball.
  2. The server must wait for the receiver to be ready before serving.
  3. You do line calls on your side of the net and NOT the other side.
  4. You may ask the opposition to help with a call, and then their decision is FINAL.
  5. If you did not see where a ball bounced – in or out on your side of the net – it is IN.

[1] Reviewing the Skill Level Assessment Rating Scale can help you identify your current level, as well as skills to improve.