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Tips for Beginner Pickleball players

Several of the links and information are from Mike Coltman. Thanks to Mike and Judy, as they are SO helpful in so many ways with supporting Pickleball in Reading MA.


If you are brand new to Pickleball, you can just come and play OR you can watch some of these videos. I would recommend you watching them first, or at least browse them. Note this info is based on Pickleball in Massachusetts, so how to find games may vary in your area.

Scoring and general rules

Scoring is easier than tennis (in my opinion), but this is a good intro:
Pickleball Rules | The Definitive Beginner's Resource to How to Play Pickleball (YouTube) watch this first. This is a simple introduction to rules and general game play.

Another introduction: How to Play: Pickleball for Beginners (YouTube). This provides more details, if you find it confusing, the first video does a good enough starting job.

General strategies 

Pickleball Basics  (YouTube) 

How to Play: Pickleball for Beginners  (YouTube) 

Is a ball in or out?

  • A ball is in or out based on physically WHERE the bottom of the ball touches the ground.
  • Paint is still considered in the court. The outside edge of the paint on a court determines if it's in or out. If you have a blue Pickleball court and green outside of the court, it's that line that determines if it's in or out.
  • Same rules apply to the kitchen. See the above videos if you don't know what the "kitchen" is. The paint next to the kitchen is part of the kitchen, and so considered in the kitchen. For example, when you serve, the ball must go beyond the kitchen paint on the other side to be a good serve (and still land within the box to your opponent).
  • Line calls (was the ball in or out?) is an honor system, and the receiving team makes the call. You can return a serve, and your partner or you can call it out after you hit it.

Paddles (or Rackets)

For a racket, Mike recommended an Onix Z5, I enjoy it, and it is a popular racket.  Z5 will work fine, research if you want.

Others are fine! Turns out a new racket comes out almost every other day! Other rackets have different weights, and composition, and some *may* be more durable finish depending on who manufactured the carbon fiber used in the paddle. Sites claim that paddles make using carbon fiber from Toray's TORAYCA (toraycma.com) T700 raw carbon fiber may be more durable than others. I purchased a Double Black Diamond (sixzeropickleball.com) from 6.0. I used "BRIONESPB" as a code to save $18.00! I like the paddle over the Z5, others have tried it and liked it, some said it didn't make that much difference. So again, personal preference.


Like tennis or other sports, movement can be lateral instead of just forward (like running). It's really recommended that you get tennis shoes (also work for Pickleball shoes).


For outdoor balls, Mike suggested https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074P8MZW9/ (amazon.com).  They have worked well for me. Note, as a beginner, you probably don't need to get a ball if you're just joining a group. However, practice against a wall is an excellent way to get the feel of the ball and touches. You can google "Pickleball wall drills" for videos such as Training On A Wall (youtube) if you're inspired, but it's not at all necessary to start out. You can practice against any hard wall and ground, including plaster walls, just use a clean ball, not a ball marked with your initials, or experience shows that the wall gets your "stamp"!


Like other sports, you should warm up before you start playing. I don't see many people do this at the lower levels, however, many YouTube's say one of the major causes of injuries happen because you start playing harder and are not warmed up. You can search YouTube for "pickleball warm up exercises", which provides a good variety, here is one Pickleball Warm Up Exercises-5 Minutes to Play Better Pickleball (YouTube) that is simple to start with.

Pickleball can be addictive (in a great way)

If you start to play a lot of Pickleball, just like tennis you can get elbow pain.

  1. You get it by not swinging properly over time. The pain comes because a weak muscle (at elbow) gets overstressed. Watch videos on how to swing properly.
  2. You can get it by not enough strength and mobility around the weak muscles.
  3. If you HAVE pain, There Is Only One Way to NOT Get Pickleball Elbow (YouTube). My PT person (DJ at Soul PT Danvers, amazing). He had me do hammer curls, my favorite back exercise Prone T's with Dumbbell and Supine Overhead Elbow Extension With Dumbbell . Do them correctly with good posture.

How do you find out where you can play?

https://playtimescheduler.com is widely used in my area. NOTE: At the time of this writing, Playtimescheduleer does NOT have an "app" as some websites incorrectly call it. You have to use a browser and go to the site. You can join for free at https://playtimescheduler.com. They offer paid subscriptions with benefits that you can see on this page such as a much better listing of the games and towns in your area. However free may be all you want. P.S. The starting score of a doubles match is "0 0 2" (zero zero score, second server)

You can find courts by contacting local towns. This info is for MA, but may apply elsewhere. This includes finding indoor courts as well.

 Pickleball folks often "rank themselves"

On https://playtimescheduler.com/ you will often see recommended range of skill levels.  A beginner is 2.0. You can sign up for free, and then see available games in your area.

You rank yourself. To do that see: https://usapickleball.org/tournaments/tournament-player-ratings/player-skill-rating-definitions/

There are other sites that also provide ranking guidelines, and ranking does vary a bit.

Ranking is a great way to have a group of people play at similar levels. The more competitive people often want to play with similar skill levels, so they may not be open to a beginner (nor would a beginner want to play with a group much better than they are).

Pickleball is fun and very social

It is such a social game. Get out and meet the people.

I love the game, but the people are the best part! Hope you have a similar experience! Anybody can play. You can find groups that match the play level that works best for you!

Advanced -> Read only if you want to reserve a court:

Normally, you won't need to schedule a court, as many people do this for you already, and you can join in through https://playtimescheduler.com/ .

1) Go to https://www.playlocal.com/ (you may need to provide a credit card for verification and some courts you may have to pay to reserve).

NOTE: After you register a court time, It is very considerate of you to then take the time to list it on https://playtimescheduler.com/ even if you want to only invite your friends in a private group.

Courts are busy, please be considerate and maximize use, and reduce possible conflicts by also listing it on https://playtimescheduler.com/. Here are just some of the reasons::

2) After you reserve the court, note the time and court number (1, 2, 3, or 4 for example) then go to https://playtimescheduler.com/ and then enter in what court and time, and how many you want to join (it can be private), and skill level. A beginner is 2.0. Placing your reserved court time (from play local) is done to share the courts with like players. It's easy to see how many are playing, if a game is canceled, and invite others to join. You can be very considerate, and it's generally the "social" thing to do.

3) If you have any trouble with this, you can email me at Pickleball at this domain or contact Mike Coltman.

Thank YOU!

Thank YOU for reading this!

By David Morgan

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This page updated 04/17/24 08:53 AM