Pickleball, a rapidly growing sport, has a lingo that can seem like a foreign language to newcomers. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the pickleball terms and phrases you’ll encounter on the court:

Ace A masterful serve that eludes the receiver’s touch before bouncing twice – a true winner.

Andiamo! Julian Arnold’s battle cry, echoing “let’s go” in Italian, celebrates his exceptional plays.

APP Debuted in 2020, this organization oversees a range of pickleball tournaments, catering to pros, seniors, and amateurs under the USA Pickleball umbrella.

ATP (Around-the-Post) A clever shot bypassing the net and its post, typically in response to a dink that pulls you far wide.

Backcourt The court’s rear section is near the baseline – there are better positions for point domination.

Backhand A stroke where the back of the hand leads, crossing the body that is called a Pickleball Backhand.

Backspin A ball’s low-skimming trajectory post-bounce, achieved through a slicing technique. That technique is called Pickleball Backspin.

Backswing The preparatory arm movement before striking the ball – less is often more.

Banger Someone who relentlessly prefers power hits over subtle dinks or drops.

Baseline The court’s rear boundary, 22 feet from the net.


Baseline Anchor Refers to a player who primarily operates from the baseline, relying on powerful groundstrokes and deep shots to control the game.

Bert A variation of the Erne, executed by jumping over the kitchen to strike the ball in front of a partner.

Block Volley A defensive move, often from the backhand, to deflect the ball, ideally into the opponent’s non-volley zone.

Carry A frowned-upon technique where the ball briefly travels with the paddle.

Centerline The court’s midline, divides even and odd service courts.

Composite A term for paddles made from varied materials.

Court Hawk A term for players with exceptional court awareness, able to anticipate shots and position themselves optimally, often turning the game’s tide with their strategic movements.

Dead Ball Signifies a play’s end.

Delamination The unsettling separation of a paddle’s layers affects ball control.

Dig A low, defensive response to an attack aimed at your feet.

Dink Duelist A player who thrives in the subtle art of dink exchanges, demonstrating precision and patience in these close-net battles.

Dink Shot A subtle, kitchen-line play landing in the adversary’s non-volley zone. That is called Pickleball Dinking.

Dink Volley A gentle aerial reply to a dink, keeping the ball in the opponent’s non-volley zone.

Distraction Any disruptive player action during a shot.

Doubles A team game with partners of the same gender.


Double Bounce Rule Ensures two bounces (on the serve and return) before aerial hits.

Double Elimination A format where a second defeat spells tournament exits.

Double Hit Legal if part of a single stroke; illegal otherwise.

Drills Practice games to hone skills.

Drive A forceful, often backcourt, groundstroke.

Drop Shot A delicate, strategically placed shot, usually from the baseline to the non-volley zone.

DUPR A global system for rating players.

Erne A close-net volley by a player outside the non-volley zone boundaries.

Even Court The right-side service area when facing the net.

Fault A rule violation ending the rally.

First Server The initial server doubles, starting from the right.

First Server Wristband Identifies the initial game server in doubles.

Flamingo An attacking shot resembling the bird’s one-legged stance.

Follow Thru The concluding part of a stroke as the ball leaves the paddle.

Foot Fault A violation during serving or volleying involving forbidden foot placements.

Footwork Critical for balance and effective shots.

Forehand A stroke with the palm leading and the arm moving across the body.

Game Usually to 11 points, with a 2-point winning margin. Tournament rules may vary.

Graphite A durable paddle face material.

Grip How you hold your paddle.

Ground Stroke A baseline or midcourt shot post-bounce.

Half-Volley A quick, post-bounce hit before the ball peaks.

Honeycomb Core A paddle core with a honeycomb-like design.

IPTPA A leading organization certifying pickleball instructors.

Kamikaze A player’s fearless rush to the non-volley line during an opponent’s hit.

Kitchen Slang for the Non-Volley Zone.

Ladder A visual player ranking system.

Let A serve or rally that’s replayed.

Line Call A loud, decisive call on a ball’s in/out status.

Lob A shot arcing over opponents, pushing them back. that is called Lob In Pickleball.

Loser’s Bracket Where defeated players continue in a double-elimination format.

Midcourt Between the non-volley line and baseline.

Mixed Doubles Teams of opposite genders.

MLP A pro league debuted in 2021 with rally scoring and team play.

Momentum Regarding non-volley zone rules, this relates to the post-volley movement.

Nasty Nelson A serve striking the receiver’s partner – a tactical, albeit cheeky move.

Net Dominator A player who excels in controlling the play from the net, adept at volleys and put-aways, imposing pressure on the opponents.

No-Man’s Land The transition area is not ideal for lingering.

no-man's land

Non-Volley Zone A 7-foot buffer on either side of the net, prohibiting volleys.

Odd Court The left-side service area.

Open Paddle Face An angled paddle position, especially for dinking.

Overgrip An additional grip layer for comfort and sweat absorption.

PPA Hosts pro and amateur tournaments with exclusive player contracts.

Paddle The essential tool for hitting in pickleball is a Pickleball Paddle.

Paddle Artist A term for players who display exceptional creativity and finesse with their paddle, turning each shot into a display of skillful artistry.

Paddle Face The paddle’s hitting the surface.

Paddle Tap A sportsmanship gesture post-game.

Pancake A Western grip shot reminiscent of flipping pancakes.

Passing Shot A drive bypassing a net-hugging opponent.

Pickleball Brackets Software for managing tournaments.

Picklebility An expression of one’s pickleball passion and skill.

Pickled A scoreless loss or a between-the-legs shot.

Poach A volley intercepted by crossing in front of a partner.

Pool Play A round-robin format within skill-based groups.

PPR Another leading instructor-certifying body.

Put Away A decisive, unreturnable shot.

Punch Volley A direct, slightly open-faced forward shot.

Rally The sequence from serve to a fault.

Rally Master A player adept at prolonging rallies, turning the game into an endurance test, and often outlasting opponents through sheer persistence and tactical play.

Rally Scoring Points are awarded on every rally win, regardless of serving status.

Ready Position A prepared stance for the next shot.

Receiver The one returning the serve.

Reset A soft shot neutralising an opponent’s offensive pressure.

Round Robin A format where everyone plays everyone.

Sandbag Playing below one’s official skill level.

Score The three-number sequence in doubles, and two in singles.

Scorpion A dramatic defensive smash.

Second Server The follow-up server is doubled.

Serve Surgeon A player known for their precision and variety in serving, often keeping opponents guessing and off-balance.

Server The player initiates play and announces scores.


Server Number In doubles, identify the serving sequence.

Service Court The designated area for serving.

Service Motion The complete serve action, from backswing to follow-through.

Service Team The team is in a serving position in doubles.

Shadow Play A practice technique where players simulate game scenarios without the ball, focusing on footwork and stroke mechanics to enhance on-court performance.

Sidelines The court’s longitudinal boundaries.

Side-out The serve-transfer term.

Singles One-on-one play format.

Skinny Singles A half-court, one-on-one practice game.

Slice A backspin shot keeping the ball low.

Slide Step A non-volley line footwork technique, leading with the outside leg.

Smash A powerful overhead shot.

Spin Wizard A player with an uncanny ability to impart different spins on the ball, creating unpredictable trajectories and challenging opponents to adapt quickly.

Split Step A readiness hop for balanced, quick movement.

Stacking A strategic positioning for maximizing solid shots.

Starting Server The initial serving player in each team.

Stroke The technical aspect of a shot.

Tagging Intentionally hitting the opponent with the ball.

Tattoo The imprint left by a pickleball on the body after a hit.

Third Shot Drop A strategic drop shot from the serving team. this shot is called 3rd Shot Pickleball.

Topspin Describes the ball’s forward and downward rotation.

Transition Zone The area between the non-volley line and baseline.

Tweener An between-the-legs shot, often for showmanship.

Two-Bounce Rule Requires two bounces (serve, return) before aerial play.

Unforced Error A self-attributed mistake, not due to the opponent’s skill.

UPTPR A rating based on match outcomes relative to opponent strength.

USA Pickleball The sport’s U.S. governing body.

Volley Hitting the ball before it bounces.

Yips This term paints a picture of a player struggling with their serve, reminiscent of a golfer’s challenge in putting.

Zone Defense A strategic positioning where players cover specific court areas rather than chasing the ball, promoting team synergy and efficient court coverage.


While not officially recognized, these terms add a layer of richness to the understanding and enjoyment of pickleball, painting a picture of the diverse skills and strategies that make the game so engaging.


What is an “Ace” in pickleball?

An “Ace” is a serve that the opponent fails to touch before its second bounce.

What does “Dink Shot” mean in pickleball?

A “Dink Shot” is a soft, strategic shot landing in the opponent’s non-volley zone.

What is the “Two-Bounce Rule” in pickleball?

The “Two-Bounce Rule” requires the ball to bounce once on each side before allowing volleys.

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