Pickleball Rules

Any intramural policies not mentioned here may be found in the Intramural Handbook. Unless specifically mentioned below, play is governed by USA Pickleball Rules. By participating in Intramural Sports, the participant agrees to abide by all Intramural rules and policies. 

You may suffer physical and/or mental injury from participating in Intramural Sports. There are certain risks of injury that are inherent to participation in sports and recreational activities. These types of injuries may be minor or serious and may result from the actions or inactions of themselves or others. By choosing to participate in Intramural Sports, you do so at your own risk. It is understood that most activities require a certain level of fitness and health, and that each person has a different capacity for participating in these activities. Participants of Intramural Sports are highly encouraged to have a physical examination and procure health insurance prior to play. UC Campus Recreation does not provide health insurance.

Intramural Supervisors undergo concussion recognition training. In the instance a participant is exhibiting any signs or symptoms of a concussion as a result of a head injury sustained during intramural play, he or she will be removed from the activity. This individual must provide a physician’s note clearing the individual to play by a specific date. This note may be e-mailed to intramural@uc.edu or faxed to 513-556-0601.Replace with your text


To be eligible to play intramural sports at the University of Cincinnati, a participant must be a current UC student (enrolled in at least one (1) credit hour), faculty, or staff AND possess an active membership to UC Campus Recreation Center.


Uptown, full-time UC students receive a Campus Recreation membership through full payment of the Campus Life Fee. All other populations will need to purchase a membership in order to be eligible to play.


Doubles teams may have up to four players on their roster.  Singles players may have only one player on their roster.


Jewelry is prohibited across all intramural sports. This includes, but is not limited to, piercings, necklaces, rings, wrist fitness trackers, watches, and bracelets.


Medical jewelry is allowed but must be taped down.


Billed hats are prohibited in all sports except softball.


Athletic clothing and footwear is required. Prohibited items include, but is not limited to: jeans, cargo pants/shorts, skirts, loafers, open-toed shoes, and boots. Indoor sports require non-marking footwear. For outdoor field sports, detachable or metal cleats are prohibited.


Any casts, braces, or other protective equipment must be padded and secure.


UC Intramural Sports will provide paddles, balls, and nets.  Players may elect to bring their own paddles, however they must be standard pickleball paddles.

Pickleball is self-officiated - there are no referees; players are responsible for keeping score and making their own penalty calls.  Upon arrival, players should check in with the Intramural Supervisor.  This person may also assist with any injuries or first aid needs.  Following the match, players should report the score to the Intramural Supervisor.


Pickleball is played either as doubles (two players per team) or singles; doubles is most common.


The same size playing area and rules are used for both singles and doubles.


Should a ball enter the playing from another playing area, players will replay the point.


The "kitchen" or non-volley zone is the front section of each player's side of the court, closest to the net.


It is a fault if a player:

  • While volleying (hitting a ball in the air before it has bounced) has one of their feet in the kitchen or on the boundary line to the kitchen.
  • After volleying steps into the kitchen or on the boundary line to the kitchen due to their momentum, even if the ball is already dead.


The "kitchen" or non-volley zone is the front section of each player's side of the court, closest to the net.


Players may legally be in the non-volley zone any other time other than volleying a ball.


A ball contacting any line, except the kitchen or non-volley zone line on a serve is considered in bounds.


Matches consist out of the best of three games to 11 points (win by 2 - no point cap).


Should a player/team win the first two sets, both players/teams may play the third set but should record the score as 2-0.


Points are only scored by the serving team.


Teams will alternate sides after each game.  For the third game, teams will switch sides after a team hits six points.


Players can play rock, paper, scissors prior to the match.  The winner chooses serve/receive/side for the first game.  The team that does not serve the first game will serve first the second game.  For the third game, players will play rock, paper, scissors to determine serve.


The serve must be made underhand with the paddle contacting the ball below the server's waist.


The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court past the kitchen and the kitchen's boundary line.


The server may not step on the line or past the line (into the court) until after the ball is struck.


Only one serve attempt is allowed unless a let serve occurs (which will be replayed).  A let serve is when the ball touches the net on the serve and lands in the proper service court.


In singles, the server serves from the right side when their score is even and from the left side when the score is odd.


For doubles teams, each partner will have the opportunity to serve and score points until they commit a fault (*except for the first service sequence of each game).


The first serve of each side-out is made from the right hand court and the player on this side.

  • If the serving team wins the point, the server switches sides and serves from the left side.  As subsequent points are scored, the server continues to switch back and forth until they lose a point.
  • When the first server loses serve, the partner then serves from their correct side of the court (*except for the first service sequence of the game).  The second server continues until they lose a point, and thus lose serve to the opposing team.
  • Then the opposing team follows the same sequence from the beginning of this rule.


*At the beginning of each new game, only one partner on the serving team has the opportunity to serve.  Once that server loses serve, the opposing team takes over service.


When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning.  Then, the serving team must let it bounce before returning (two bounces).


After the ball has bounced once in each team's court, either team may volley (hit the ball in the air before it bounces).


A fault by the receiving teams results in a point for the serving team.  A fault by the serving team results in the server's loss of serve or side out.


A fault occurs when:

  • A serve does not land with the confines of the receiving court (diagonally opposed court past the kitchen and the kitchen's boundary line).
  • The ball is hit into the net on the serve or any return.
  • The ball is volleyed before bouncing once on both sides of the court.
  • The ball is hit out of bounds.
  • A ball is volleyed from the non-volley zone (kitchen).
  • A ball bounces twice before being hit.
  • A player, player's clothing, or any part of a player's paddle touches the net or posts when the ball is in play.
  • There is a violation of a service rule.
  • A ball in play strikes a player or any part of their clothing.
  • A ball in play strikes any permanent object before bouncing on the court.