Pickleball Rules

Pickleball Rules



At the end each game hour both teams are to send in the score for that game in the following format:

Email title – Thursday Evening Pickleball – (team name)
Game 1
Team A – 2
Team B – 1

Game 2
Team A – 2
Team B – 2

Rules Summary

  • Points are scored by the serving side only and occur when the opponent faults (fails to return the ball, hits ball out of bounds or into the net, etc.)
  • The ball is served underhanded and diagonally to the opponent’s service court without bouncing it off the court.
  • The server continues to serve, alternating service courts, until the serving side faults
  • The first side scoring 11 points wins
  • Tie Breaker is to 9 points (first side scoring 9 points wins).
  • Double Bounce – following the serve, each side must make at least one ground-stroke prior to volleying the ball (hitting it before it has bounced)
  • The Kitchen (also known as the Non-Volley Zone): A player cannot volley a ball while standing within the non-volley zone.


  • Teams will play 2 separate teams per evening, best 2 out of 3 games.
  • The first game will be at the scheduled game start time of 6:00pm or 7:45pm
  • When the first game (best 2 out of 3 games) is complete teams will find the second team they are to play against listed on the schedule.
  • When both teams are completed their first game (best 2 out of 3 games) they will begin their second game right away.
  • 3 points for a win


  • 2 vs 2
  • A min of 2 people to play if teams are short that week
  • All players at the game must play.
  • If you have subs rotating in you must have the same 2 players playing for the entire game (to 9), once the game is complete you can rotate in the subs for the 2 players playing in the next game.
  • Rosters are unlimited in size as we want every team able to have enough players to field a team each week.
  • All players must be registered with Niagara Rec Sports in order to play.


  • Serving must be underhand
  • Paddle contact with the ball must be below the server’s waist
  • You must start the serve with at least one foot behind the baseline and neither foot can contact the baseline or court until after you hit the ball
  • The serve should be diagonal crosscourt and must land in the opposite diagonal court
  • You only get one serve attempt unless you hit the ball into the net and it lands on the other side in the proper service court (known as a “let”)

Serving Sequence

  • Both players on each team of a doubles game get to serve until they commit a fault
    • The exception is the first service of each game, where only one player from the initial serving team gets to serve before service passes to the other team
  • Every time service changes sides, the first serve is from the right hand court
  • Every time you score, you switch sides of the court for your next serve
  • When the first server loses the serve, the second server serves from the side of the court they are currently on.


  • Points are only scored by the serving team
  • Games are played to 9

Double Bounce Rule

  • When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning it, and the serving team must let it bounce before returning as well.
  • After the initial two returns, no bounces are mandatory. You may then hit the ball with a ground stroke where the balls bounces first or with a volley where no bounce occurs.


  • Volleying isn’t allowed within the kitchen (non volley zone), an area of the court within 7 feet of the net on both sides, marked with a line on pickleball courts.
  • Volleying isn’t allowed within the kitchen, preventing smashes from the net.
  • It is a fault to step in the kitchen (non-volley zone) or even on the line when volleying.
  • It is a fault when your momentum carries you into the kitchen or causes you to touch the line after a volley.
  • You may be in the kitchen ( non-volley zone) at any other time as long as you’re not volleying the ball.

Line Calls

  • Balls contacting any line, except the non-volley zone line on a serve, are considered in.
  • Serves contacting the non-volley zone line are short and cause a fault.


A fault occurs when:

  • A serve does not land within the receiving court
  • The ball is hit into the net on the serve or any return
  • The ball is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side
  • The ball is hit out of bounds
  • The ball is volleyed from the kitchen
  • The ball bounces twice before being struck by the receiver
  • The player, player’s clothing, or any part of a player’s paddle touches the net or the net post when the ball is in play
  • There is a violation of a service rule
  • A ball in play strikes a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying
  • A ball in play strikes any permanent object before bouncing on the court


  • The first game of the double header starts right on the scheduled game time ie 6:00 scheduled game
  • If one team is at the game ready to play and the other team is not ready to play, after 5 minutes has passed one 5 points will be awarded to the team that is ready to play.
  • After 10 minutes, the team that is at the game ready to play, will be awarded 9 points (one set win) second set.
  • After 15 minutes, the team that is ready to play, will be awarded the win.

Determining Serving Team

  • The first serve is determined by rock paper scissors. The winner of rock paper scissors will have the option to choose side or to serve or receive.


  • Players are responsible to bring their own racket
  • NRS will provide players with 1 outdoor pickleball ball at the beginning of the season.
  • If players wish to purchase additional balls they must be outdoor pickleball rated.

Overall Standings Tie Breakers

  • If there is a in the standings based on points the following will be used as a tie breaker.
  • Total Most Overall Points (standings 3 points for a win, 1 for a tie)
  • Plus minus
  • Points for
  • Points against
  • Head to Head (if applicable)
  • If everything is equal a coin toss

Player Eligibility

  • All players must register online and sign the online waiver in order to be eligible to play in the league.
  • Once registration is complete (fully) the name of the registrant will appear under the team name on the roster section of the website.  Only people that are on the roster can ply for the team.
  • If teams are caught playing with unregistered (illegal players) they will loose their existing game and the next.
    Team captains are responsible to ensure all players are eligible to play.
  • If teams are short they can borrow players from another team ONLY if the opposing team captain agrees to it BEFORE the game begins.  Borrowed players must be registered with another team in the NRS league.  Outside players are not allowed and must fully register with the team before playing.

Process for challenging player eligibility

  • All players must carry some form of picture ID and be ready to show the referee or the opposing team captain if asked.
  • The team captain of the team challenging the eligibility of an opposing team’s player(s) must pull up the team rosters on the phone and approach the opposing team’s bench and speak to the team captain regarding the player in question with the roster.
    If the team captain refuses to do so the team will get an automatic loss and the player in question will be removed from the field immediately.
  • The team captain (of the team in question) must verify the player in question is in fact on the roster and ID must be shown by the player to verify they are in fact the person listed on the roster on the website.
  • If the player is found not to be on the team roster and/ or does not show ID to prove they are who they say they are, notify the umpire and they will be removed from the game and the offending team will take a loss for that game.
  • Teams have until the beginning of their game to register players.  All registrations are time stamped in our back end.
  • This process can take place until 5 minutes after the game is complete (if in playoffs once the team begins the next game the team they are playing must take up the process and the previous game can not be challenged.)
  • The team playing has to be the one to start the process.
  • Rosters are locked 3 weeks before the playoffs.

Forfeit Fine – Less than 24hrs notice

All teams must give min 24hrs notice if they are not able to field a team or they will be charged a $50.00 late notice forfeit fee.  The team will not receive any league points in the standings until the $50.00 fee is paid.  Points not received during this time will not be reinstated.  No team can play in the playoffs with an outstanding fine.  If you owe a fine at the time the playoff schedule is being made/ updated your game will not be scheduled.

If a team fails to pay the $50.00 fine within a week the league can look for another team to take their place.

This is to ensure we are able to give opposing teams and referees enough notice that your team will not be able to make it to the game.  No one likes going to a game only to find out the other team did not bother to show up.

This normally is not an issue as most teams respect each other enough to give proper notice, this fee is for those that don’t.

We are very lenient with this policy and as long as you have a few people show up and can form a team with other players playing before your game at the diamond, field and/ or court so the opposing team has a game to play your team will not be fined.

At the end of the season any money collected from the forfeit fine will be donated to a local charity such as project share.

  • If a team forfeit’s 3 times during the season they risk removal from the league.
  • If a team does not pay the fine within a week they risk removal from the league.
  • No points will be awarded to to the team in the standings until the fine has been paid.
  • A one week grace period may be implemented for teams to pay the fine.


  • Understand, appreciate and abide by the rules of the game.
  • Respect the integrity and judgment of game officials and NRS staff.
  • The referee has final say in all calls.
  • Respect your opponent and congratulate them in a courteous manner following each match whether in victory or defeat.
  • Be responsible for your actions and maintain self-control.
  • Refrain from using foul or abusive language.
  • Have fun!

Niagara Rec Sports reserves the right to remove or disallow any player from the league at any time throughout the year.  No refunds will be given if/ when players are removed from the league.

  • Niagara Rec Sports reserves the right to add, alter, remove rules either verbally or on any rules page at any time as we deem fit, any rule changes will be effective immediately.  Rules discussed at the team captains meeting are to be considered part of the league rules.

For other league rules visit this page.