What Is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball?

Pickleball is one of the most accessible games for anyone to pick up and learn. But there are a few minor rules to the game that everyone must understand. One of those rules is the double bounce rule, which is an odd rule for many pickleball beginners to grasp initially. 

The Infamous “Two-Bounce” Shuffle

The pickleball double bounce rule states that after the serve, each side must let the ball hit their side of the court first before the first volley is performed. 

To break the rule down further, the serving team will hit the ball and the receiving team has to let the ball bounce in their court before returning the ball back over the net. After their return, the serving team must also let the ball bounce on their side before returning the ball. After that, any team is allowed to return the ball in any way, hitting the ball out of the air or off of the ground. 

Pickleball Violator? Guily As Charged!

As a tennis player who is journeying into Pickleball Life, I have found myself violating the double bounce rule at least once a match. And boy, are those pickleball opponents quick to call it out. It’s actually quite embarrassing! And it’s also a tactic that people use on their serve return–so I have learned not to rush the kitchen too quickly. 

Two necessary definitions that pickleballers should know to better understand this rule are listed below:

Groundstroke: When a player hits the ball after it has bounced

Volley: When a player hits the ball before it has bounced during a rally or out of the air

Not just a pickleball rookie…a Photoshop rookie, too!

But Why the Bounce Ordinances?

A lot of people wonder why exactly this rule exists. More experienced pickleball players know that getting a player on the baseline to hit a lob shot back over the net can spell disaster; the returner can then rush up to the edge of the kitchen and slam a volley back over the net for a near impossible hit to return. 

On a serve, players can take their time to set their opposition up to have one of these baseline hits that often result in a lob over the net. The double bounce rule prevents them from smashing a volley back over.

The other side of this is the returner hitting a volley off of the other team’s serve, which would dramatically change how the game is designed to be played. If the double bounce rule wasn’t in place, returning players would position themselves close to the net and either hit a small dink shot over the net or could smash it back fairly easily.

Head Talk

Is it wrong that I sing a song in my head?

“Bounce, Bounce, Boom!”

Remember, the first two shots must bounce before they are returned: the serve must bounce AND the serve return must bounce.

  1. The serve is hit one – must bounce
  2. The return serve is hit two – must bounce
  3. Anything goes! Boom!

The Double Bounce Rule Summarized

Essentially, the pickleball double bounce rule is in place to avoid extremely short points. Players would be able to hit put-away shots to win points early in matches, which takes away from the game’s fun. Long rallies rule! Additionally, having the ball bounce on each side prevents either the server or returner from having a big advantage on any given point, keeping pickleball a fair sport for all. 

Let me assure you, fellow pickleball rookies; you will get used to these rules…kinda!

March 22, 2022: An improvement today! I only violated the double bounce rule once during a 100-minute playing session. There’s hope! 🙂

After the serve return, I also spent a lot more time advancing to the no-volley line. It can be a scary place to visit when playing with hard hitters, but it’s the only way my game will improve.

Final thought for today: Too many unforced errors. I need some drills to cement some of the forms into my head. My instinct is to step back and take a full swing like in tennis, but that approach does not translate well on most shots.

October 3, 2022: The double bounce rule in pickleball becomes a complete non-issue once you play with some regularity. After playing weekly for about two months, I was able to retire all fear and overthinking regarding letting the ball bounce. You will hear other players refer to it as the double bounce rule or the two bounce rule. You will also find that some players are just sitting back waiting to call the violation. I’ll call it out in a casual league setting, but it’s to help beginners learn the rules as opposed to snagging an easy point. I’ll often let the point continue.

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