Pickleball Terms

Welcome to the bizarre and beautiful world of pickleball, where the game is fast-paced, the players are passionate, and the slang is downright hilarious. If you’re new to this sport, you might feel like you’ve landed on another planet where everyone speaks a language that’s equal parts gibberish and giggle-inducing. Pickleball Terms like “dink,” “kitchen,” and “third shot drop” might sound more like something out of a Dr. Seuss book than a set of sports terminology.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate this strange new land of pickleball lingo so that you can join in on all the fun! Whether you’re looking to impress your friends with your newfound knowledge or just want to avoid sounding like a total noob on the court, we’ve got you covered.

So grab your paddle (and maybe some pickles for good luck) and let’s dive into the wacky world of pickleball terminology! From “stacking” to “bangers” and everything in between, we’ll break down all the essential terms so that you can confidently step onto the court and play like a pro. Well, at least talk like a pro. And who knows, with enough practice, maybe one day you’ll even become a “pickleball ninja.”

What Are the Pickleball Terms, Slang and Lingo and What Do They Mean?

What do the pickleball terms mean?
  1. Ace: A serve that lands inbounds and is not touched by the opponent, resulting in an immediate point.
  2. APP: The APP Tour is a professional and amateur prize money tournament for pickleball players across the United States.
  3. ATP (Around the Post):The “around the post” shot in pickleball is when a player hits the ball outside of the court and around the net post, landing it in the opponent’s court. It is an advanced technique that requires precise timing and skill.
  4. Approach shot: The approach shot in pickleball is a strategic shot played by the serving team to move closer to the net and gain an advantage in the point.
  5. Backhand: A stroke hit on the non-dominant side of a player’s body.
  6. Bag: A slang term used when a player hits a shot directly at their opponent and the opponent is unable to return it, resulting in the ball hitting their body.
  7. Bagel: Winning a game 11-0.
  8. Banger: In pickleball, a “banger” is a player who hits the ball hard and with power. This term is often used to describe players who rely on their strength to hit winners rather than relying on finesse or strategy.
  9. Bounce it: Your partner yells it out to tell you that the ball is either going out or going to land in the no volley zone
  10. Carry: Carrying in pickleball is a fault where a player holds or carries the ball on their paddle for too long during a shot, resulting in a loss of point or possession.
  11. Chicken wing: In pickleball, a chicken wing refers to when a player’s arm is positioned awkwardly during a shot, with the elbow pointing outwards and away from their body, resembling the shape of a chicken wing.
  12. Crash: In pickleball, crashing refers to a strategy where one player aggressively moves towards the net during their opponent’s shot, aiming to quickly intercept and return the ball before it bounces on their side of the court.
  13. Crosscourt: A shot hit diagonally across the court to the opposite corner.
  14. Dead ball: The ball after a fault
  15. Dead paddle: A paddle that has lost its pop or bounce due to wear and tear.
  16. Dink: This is a soft shot that you hit just over the net. It’s meant to drop quickly and land in the non-volley zone, making it difficult for your opponent to return
  17. Double Bounce Rule: This means that the serving team must hit the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court, and then wait for the opposing team to let it bounce before hitting it back. The receiving team must also let the serve bounce before returning it. After this initial exchange, both teams can either volley (hit the ball in mid-air) or play off a bounce.
  18. Double Bounce: If the ball bounces twice on the same side of the net it is a fault and the point is over.
  19. Double Hit: a double hit occurs when a player hits the ball twice before it goes over the net.
  20. Dream Breaker: In MLP, If two teams are tied after these four games, an innovative tiebreaker known as the “DreamBreaker™” is played, with a rotational system involving all four players playing singles. Teams first play each other in group or round-robin play, and then the top teams square off in a single-elimination format
  21. Drive: A hard, flat shot hit with pace and minimal spin.
  22. Drop Shot: a drop shot is a soft shot that is hit just over the net and lands in the opponent’s non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen). This usually occurs from the baseline which makes it different than a dink.
  23. Dubs: Slang for a doubles match
  24. DUPR: The Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating System. Watch our YouTube for a full explanation of the DUPR.
  25. Erne shot: When a player jumps over the corner of the kitchen to land out of bounds (not in the kitchen) to get closer to the net to hit the ball without breaking the non volley zone rule before the ball hits the ground.
  26. Fault: An infraction that results in the loss of a point or serve.
  27. Fore Hand: The forehand is one of the most common shots in pickleball and is often used to drive the ball with power, control, and accuracy.
  28. Foot fault: An infraction where a player steps on or over the baseline before making contact with the ball on their serve.
  29. Golden match: Winning a game 11-0 winning every single serve.
  30. Groundstroke: A shot hit after the ball has bounced on the court.
  31. Half-volley: A shot where the ball is hit immediately after it bounces off the ground without letting it settle first.
  32. IPTPA: The International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) is an organization that provides certification for instructors in the sport of pickleball.
  33. Kitchen (Non-Volley Zone): The kitchen, also known as the non-volley zone, is a seven-foot area on either side of the pickleball net. The kitchen is marked by a line on each side and extends back to the edge of the court. When playing pickleball, you are not allowed to hit a volley (a ball that is struck in the air before it bounces) while standing inside the kitchen.
  34. Lay out: A “layout” in pickleball refers to a diving or stretching effort made by a player to reach and hit the ball.
  35. Lob: A high, arching shot that lands deep in the opponent’s court.
  36. Mixed: Mixed doubles. Men and Women team up.
  37. MLP: Major League Pickleball (MLP) is a professional pickleball league that offers two levels of competition, providing a unique and thrilling experience for players and fans alike.
  38. Nasty Nelson: A serve that hits the receiver’s partner before it has bounced. Usually done intentionally. Results in a fault. Named after Timothy Nelson
  39. Net cord: When the ball hits at top of the net and trickles over onto the opponent’s side often resulting in a lucky point for the hitter
  40. No Mans’s Land (transition zone): “no man’s land” refers to a specific area on the court that is vulnerable to getting attacked by your opponents. This area is located in the middle of the court, between the non-volley line and the baseline.
  41. Opa: a player will often yell this after the 3rd shot.
  42. Overhead smash: A powerful shot hit from above a player’s head, often used to end rally by hitting downwards towards opponent’s feet
  43. Pickle!: often yelled out when someone is about to serve
  44. Pickled: Losing 11-0
  45. Pickleball ninja: This term refers to someone who is really good at pickleball and can make incredible shots with ease. They move swiftly and gracefully around the court, almost like they’re invisible!
  46. Poach: When one player crosses the court to intercept a ball hit toward their partner
  47. PPA: The PPA in pickleball stands for the Professional Pickleball Association. It is an organization that was founded in 2018 and is focused on promoting and developing the sport of pickleball at a professional level.
  48. Rally: Exchange of shots between opposing players or teams
  49. Reset: a defensive shot that is used to regain control of the point by returning the ball softly and accurately over the net. A reset is typically used when a player or team is on defense and has been forced into a defensive position by their opponents’ shots.
  50. Serve: First shot of each point which starts with an underhand serve and must clear the non-volley zone and land inbounds on the opposite diagonal court
  51. Service Court: the service court is the area on each side of the net where a player must stand to serve the ball. The service court is divided into two sections: the right-hand and left-hand service courts.
  52. Shape: a shot with shape typically refers to a ball that is hit with spin or a specific trajectory in order to make it more difficult for the opponent to return.
  53. Side out: When serving team loses a point becomes opponent’s turn to serve
  54. Side spin: Type of spin applied to the ball causing it to curve left or right during flight
  55. Sings: when referring to playing singles matches.
  56. Skinny Singles: Playing a singles match with half the court.
  57. Staking: This is a strategy where both players on one team stand on the same side of the court during the serve. It’s often used to confuse opponents and create an advantage.
  58. Third Shot Drop: The goal of the third shot drop is to hit the ball softly enough that it lands in the opponent’s kitchen (the area closest to the net), but with enough backspin that it does not bounce high and give the opponent an easy opportunity to attack.
  59. Topspin: Type of spin applied to the ball causing it rotates forward and downward making drop faster and bounce higher.
  60. Volley: Shot hit mid-air before the ball bounces on the ground
  61. Volley Llama: Illegal shot hitting the ball in the kitchen before it bounces.


Well, pickleball sure has its own language! You may feel like you need a translator to understand what your opponents are saying on the court. But fear not, my fellow players! Once you learn the lingo, you’ll be able to dink and lob with the best of them. And if all else fails, just make up your own words – who knows, they might catch on and become the next big thing in pickleball slang! So get out there and have some fun on the court – just remember to bring your “pickleballtionary” with you!