Pickleball 2-Bounce Rule Explained: Purpose and How It Works

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

Aside from being a fun sport, pickleball is also known for being unique in so many ways. For instance, it is the only sport that has a two-bounce rule. If you're new to pickleball, this should be the first rule you must understand clearly. 

Although this rule looks simple, you should know why it is being implemented. More importantly, you should follow it religiously. In this post, you'll learn everything about the 2-bounce rule in pickleball.

What is the Two-Bounce Rule in Pickleball?

In pickleball, the two-bounce rule means that the receiving team should allow the served ball to bounce before returning it, making it the first bounce. Then, the serving team should let the ball bounce before hitting it again, thus the second bounce. A player who hits the ball without letting the ball bounce first shall commit a fault. Similarly, a player who allows the ball to bounce more than once also violates the 2-bounce rule.

The term "2-bounce rule" is not mentioned in the USA Pickleball Rulebook. However, Section 7.A states that a fault is called "If the serve or service return does not bounce before the ball is struck." Therefore, it's evident that both the receiving and serving teams should only return the ball after it bounces once. Players can hit the ball on the third and subsequent returns without letting it bounce. This shot is called a volley.

Does the 2-Bounce Rule Apply in the Kitchen?

In case you still don't know, the kitchen in pickleball refers to the non-volley zone (NVZ). This area inside the pickleball court is 7 feet away on each side of the net. According to the Kitchen Rules, no player should volley (hit the ball without letting it bounce) while inside the non-volley zone or even stepping on the NVZ line. Aside from safety reasons, this rule also allows all players to be more skillful and strategic.

But is the two-bounce rule also applicable in the kitchen? The short answer is yes and no. It means that the ball from the server should not land on the kitchen or the kitchen line. Otherwise, the server commits a fault. On the other hand, the second bounce (ball returned by the receiving team from a server) can legally land anywhere, including the kitchen and the kitchen line.

What is the Purpose of the 2-Bounce Rule?

The primary purpose of the 2-bounce rule is to give a fair game to the serving and receiving team at the start of the game. This rule will prevent the teams from volleying the ball in the first serve and return of serve. Therefore, it follows the purpose of the serving, which is to start the game and not to be used as an offensive strategy. If there's no 2-bounce rule, the serving team will have a better chance of earning points continuously and may eventually win.

Why is There No 1-Bounce Rule in Pickleball?

As mentioned above, the purpose of letting the served ball bounce first before the receiving team hits it is to avoid the serving team using the serve as an offensive tactic. If the serving team is allowed to volley on the third shot, it is called the 1-bounce rule. Hence, the serving team can easily earn a point. Since the serving team will serve again after winning a point, this will be a significant disadvantage for the receiving team.

But since the 1-bounce rule doesn't exist, the serving team should wait for the ball to bounce before returning it. In doing so, the receiving team will have enough time to prepare to return the ball for the second time. At first glance, the 2-bounce rule seems to reduce the excitement in pickleball. On the other hand, pickleball has the same principle as chess. The sport promotes fairness to all, regardless of age and skill level.

Is the 2-Bounce Rule the Same as the Double-Bounce Rule?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is that the 2-bounce rule used to have the same meaning as the double-bounce rule. But if you Google "double-bounce rule in pickleball," you might end up reading an older blog explaining it as the 2-bounce rule. That's because the older version of the official rules used the "double-bounce rule" instead of the "two-bounce rule."

Section 4.H of the 2016 USAPA & IFP Official Tournament Rulebook (International Federation of Pickleball & USA Pickleball Association) states that "Double Bounce Rule. The serve and the service return must be allowed to bounce before striking the ball. That is, each side must play a groundstroke on the first shot following the serve. After the initial groundstrokes have been made, play may include volleys."

Fortunately, the 2018 version of the said rule changed the term "double-bounce rule" to "two-bounce rule," but with the same content. Since then, the official USA Pickleball Rulebook had different meanings for the two rules. To help you avoid becoming confused, we made a separate post explaining the difference between the two-bounce rule and the double-bounce rule. Hopefully, this will eventually clear up things for you.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, pickleball's 2-bounce rule is simple and easy to understand and follow. The key here is to remember that the sport was created to be fair with every player in the serving and receiving teams. It offers equal chances to both the offensive and defensive teams in terms of earning points. True enough, pickleball doesn't discriminate against anyone. No wonder it has become America's fastest-growing sport today.

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