Speak Pickleball: 61 Must-Know Terms Explained

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?

What do the pickleball terms mean?

Ace: An electrifying serve that zooms over the net, leaving the opponent frozen in awe as it lands untouched on their side, instantly scoring a point.

APP: The thrilling APP Tour is the ultimate battleground where pickleball gladiators from all corners of the United States clash for fame, glory, and a hefty prize purse.

ATP (Around the Post): Behold the audacious “around the post” shot—a mesmerizing display of skill where the ball defies gravity, gracefully circumnavigating the net post and gracefully descending into the opponent’s territory. It’s a move that wows the crowd and leaves opponents dumbfounded.

Approach shot: Like a strategic chess move, the approach shot is a calculated strike by the serving team, a masterful maneuver to conquer the net and seize control of the point, sending shivers down the opponent’s spine.

Backhand: Unleash the power of the backhand, the stroke that reveals the player’s true mettle—a majestic, lightning-fast swing on the non-dominant side that leaves spectators gasping in astonishment.

Body Bag: Watch in awe as the player hurls an explosive shot directly at their opponent, leaving them defenseless as they fail to return the onslaught. It’s a shot that makes the crowd erupt in thunderous cheers.

Bagel: A glorious triumph, a dominating display of skills and finesse, where the victor leaves their opponent utterly defeated, without a single point to their name—a bagel that tastes as sweet as victory itself.

Banger: Witness the raw power and ferocity of the banger—a force to be reckoned with, an unstoppable dynamo on the court. This player demolishes opponents with thunderous smashes, showcasing an unrivaled display of strength.

Bounce it: Your partner’s urgent cry pierces the air, guiding you through the thrilling dance of anticipation—will the ball soar beyond the boundaries or descend gracefully within the lines, leaving opponents in disarray?

Carry: The ball delicately dances on the player’s paddle, teasing gravity itself before it is unleashed with a flick of the wrist. But beware, a prolonged hold results in a forbidden carry, a costly mistake that echoes with lost points.

Chicken wing: Behold the peculiar grace of the chicken wing—an unconventional stance, an arm contorted like the wings of its namesake bird, summoning the player’s inner warrior as they conquer the court.

Crash: With fearless determination, the player charges forward, a blazing comet streaking toward the net, intercepting their opponent’s shot with lightning reflexes. It’s a breathtaking spectacle that leaves the crowd breathless.

Crosscourt: Embark on a thrilling diagonal journey across the court, as the player’s shot defies convention, blazing a path to the farthest corner, leaving opponents scrambling in its wake.

Dead ball: Silence falls upon the court as the ball lies motionless, an eerie pause before the action resumes, offering players a brief respite before the storm of pickleball.

Dead paddle: Once vibrant and alive, the paddle now bears the marks of countless battles—a trusty companion that has lost some of its pop but remains an emblem of resilience, a testament to the countless battles fought.

Dink: Unleash a magical touch, a soft and delicate shot that floats tantalizingly over the net, elegantly descending into the opponent’s non-volley zone, leaving them helpless, caught in the mesmerizing spell of finesse.

Double Bounce Rule: The dance of the serve begins with anticipation, as the ball gracefully glides over the net, demanding respect as it bounces on the opponent’s side. The game unfolds with volley and bounce, transforming into a thrilling display of skill and strategy.

Double Bounce: A tremor reverberates through the court as the ball ruthlessly breaches the sacred rule, bouncing twice on the same side of the net, signaling the end of the point and a missed opportunity.

Double Hit: A moment of hesitation grips the player as their paddle unintentionally makes contact with the ball not once, but twice, betraying their intentions and ending the rally prematurely.

Dream Breaker: When the stakes are at their highest, the elite pickleball warriors engage in a breathtaking tiebreaker known as the “DreamBreaker™.” A sensational showcase where all four players battle in a rotational singles format, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats.

Drive: Summon the fury within and unleash a thunderous shot—a drive that pierces the air with unparalleled speed and minimal spin, leaving opponents awestruck and defenseless.

Drop Shot: Unveil the artistry of deception—a shot kissed with finesse and touch, arcing delicately over the net and softly descending into the opponent’s kitchen, an exquisite execution that drowns them in frustration.

Dubs: Step onto the doubles battlefield, where the collaboration of two mighty souls intertwines, creating a symphony of strategy, communication, and unstoppable teamwork.

DUPR: Unveiling the Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating System—the celestial oracle that bestows order upon the chaos, a portal of wisdom and enlightenment that reveals the true essence of players’ skills. Or, more clearly explained here in our YouTube Video.

Erne shot: Like a soaring phoenix, the player defies the boundaries of the court, leaping over the kitchen’s edge to gain an advantageous position at the net. It’s a daring spectacle that defies the laws of gravity and leaves opponents bewildered.

Fault: A moment of anguish, a slip in concentration, as a player commits an infraction, relinquishing a point or their turn to serve, triggering a collective gasp from the crowd.

Forehand: Embrace the symphony of power and precision—a majestic stroke that harnesses the player’s dominant side, guiding the ball with commanding force and surgical accuracy.

Foot fault: The player’s eagerness to strike is their undoing—a misstep, a premature leap over the baseline before their serve connects, resulting in an unfortunate infraction.

Golden match: Witness an unparalleled display of dominance—an unstoppable force that leaves opponents gasping for air, succumbing to a relentless assault, unable to snatch even a single point from the victor’s grasp.

Groundstroke: Feel the earth tremble beneath the player’s thunderous shot—a testament to their mastery of timing, precision, and raw power, as the ball gracefully dances on the court.

Half-volley: A daring act of finesse and timing—a shot where the player unleashes their paddle on the ball immediately after it bounces off the ground, denying it any respite, unleashing a relentless counterattack.

IPTPA: Enter the realm of the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association—an esteemed institution that bestows the sacred knowledge of the sport upon its chosen disciples, crafting masterful instructors who guide players towards greatness.

Kitchen (Non-Volley Zone): The battlefield of restraint, where warriors must tread with caution. The kitchen, also known as the non-volley zone, is a forbidden realm where volleys are forbidden. It is a battleground where victory is shaped by strategic footwork and well-timed strikes.

Lay out: A moment frozen in time—a player’s daring dive or stretch, a desperate lunge to reach the ball and deliver a mesmerizing shot, leaving spectators in awe of their unwavering dedication.

Lob: Witness the ball ascend to the heavens, an ethereal arc that tantalizingly hangs in the air before gracefully descending into the opponent’s court, a masterful stroke that denies them any chance of retaliation.

Mixed: The dance of harmony unfolds—a symphony of collaboration as men and women join forces, their combined skills weaving a tapestry of strategy, power, and finesse.

MLP: The grand spectacle of Major League Pickleball unfolds—a breathtaking showcase of the sport’s elite warriors battling for supremacy, thrilling fans with heart-stopping rallies, and unleashing a tidal wave of emotions on the court.

Nasty Nelson: A wicked serve that defies all expectations, targeting the receiver’s partner before the ball even touches the ground. Crafted with precision, this serve leaves opponents dumbfounded, resulting in a fault. It is a stroke named after the legendary Timothy Nelson.

Net cord: The ball’s fate hangs in the balance—a fateful encounter with the net’s crest, as it teeters on the edge, before gracefully cascading onto the opponent’s side, bestowing an unexpected point upon the hitter, a stroke of fortune.

No Man’s Land (transition zone): Step into the treacherous terrain known as “no man’s land,” a volatile battleground between the non-volley line and the baseline. Here, players must tread carefully, as this no-man’s land becomes the target of merciless attacks from opponents, making it a zone to be conquered or avoided at all costs.

Opa: An exclamation that echoes through the court, reverberating with energy and anticipation, heralding the turning point in the match—a call to seize the moment and unleash one’s true potential.

Overhead smash: Witness the culmination of power and precision—a thunderous overhead smash, a symphony of motion as the player propels the ball downward from the heavens, obliterating opponents’ hopes and dreams.

Pickle!: A spirited cry that pierces the air, signaling the imminent serve—a battle cry that electrifies the court and sparks the fire of competition.

Pickled: The bitter taste of defeat permeates the air, as the victor revels in an 11-0 victory, leaving their opponent without a single point, a pickle that sours the spirit.

Pickleball ninja: Encounter the elusive maestro of pickleball—the agile and enigmatic pickleball ninja, a master of deception and finesse, who strikes with unparalleled precision, leaving opponents in a state of awe and bewilderment.

Poach: A daring maneuver unfolds—an audacious crossover as one player swiftly infiltrates the opponent’s domain, intercepting a ball meant for their partner, a stroke that leaves opponents confounded and the crowd roaring in approval.

PPA: Enter the realm of the Professional Pickleball Association—the pinnacle of pickleball excellence, a sanctuary where the sport’s most revered warriors engage in an epic quest to etch their names in the annals of greatness.

Rally: The dance of pickleball unfolds—a symphony of shot exchanges, a breathtaking display of skill, strategy, and resilience, as opponents spar in a relentless pursuit of victory.

Reset: Unleash the art of redemption—a defensive shot that softly caresses the ball, restoring control and turning the tide of the point, leaving opponents disoriented and forced into a defensive position.

Serve: The herald of battle—an underhand serve that gracefully clears the net, piercing the opponent’s domain, demanding attention and igniting the fierce contest for victory.

Service Court: Enter the sacred realm of the service court—a player’s battleground where they must take their stand to launch their serve. Divided into two sections, the right-hand and left-hand service courts, this hallowed ground sets the stage for the epic clash.

Shape: Witness the masterful manipulation of the ball’s trajectory—a shot with shape that defies expectations, deftly swerving, spinning, or curving, confounding opponents and leaving them at the mercy of the player’s strategic brilliance.

Side out: The tide of the game shifts—a moment of transition where the serving team surrenders a point, relinquishing their turn to serve, as the opponent takes the stage, ready to unleash their own assault.

Side spin: The ball embraces a mysterious path—a captivating spin that sends it veering to the left or right, creating an unpredictable trajectory that confuses opponents and mesmerizes spectators.

Sings: Prepare to embark on a solitary journey—a battle waged by individuals on the court, where the spotlight shines solely on the players’ skills, resilience, and determination.

Skinny Singles: Step into the realm of skinny singles, where half the court becomes your domain—a stripped-down, exhilarating showdown where every move, every shot, holds the power to shape destiny.

Stacking: Witness the masterful art of deception—both players on one team unite on a single side of the court during the serve, creating a perplexing mirage that leaves opponents bewildered and vulnerable.

Third Shot Drop: Unleash the power of finesse—a third shot drop that delicately caresses the ball, guiding it with a gentle touch into the opponent’s kitchen. It’s a shot that demands precise control and strategic subtlety, setting the stage for a strategic triumph.

Topspin: Evoke the might of the gods—a spin that propels the ball forward and downward, imbued with wicked topspin, commanding it to drop faster, bounce higher, and strike fear into the hearts of opponents.

Volley: The symphony of pickleball reaches its crescendo—an electrifying shot struck mid-air, denying the ball any contact with the ground, showcasing the player’s swift reflexes and the relentless rhythm of the game.

Volley Llama: Witness the forbidden embrace—a mystical creature born of transgressions, striking the ball in the kitchen before it bounces. A mythical creature whose appearance on the court is met with penalty and reprimand, a sight that evokes a mix of curiosity and disbelief.


Pickleball, a sport that blends finesse, power, and strategic brilliance, has a language all its own. From the thunderous aces that leave opponents stunned to the delicate dinks that dance over the net, these pickleball terms paint a vibrant picture of the game’s excitement and intensity.

As players unleash their skills on the court, the electrifying atmosphere comes alive, fueled by the shouts of “Pickle!” and the cheers of the crowd. With each stroke, each rally, and each point, pickleball captivates its enthusiasts, creating a world where athleticism and strategy collide in a thrilling symphony of motion.

So, embrace the exhilaration, explore the terminology, and dive into the dynamic world of pickleball, where every pickleball term tells a story and every shot holds the potential for glory.

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