What Is Two Bounce Rule In Pickleball?

What is Two Bounce Rule in Pickleball?

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The two bounce rule in pickleball requires that the ball must bounce once on each side of the net after it is served before it can be hit by the opposing team. This rule is fundamental to the game of pickleball and provides structure to each point from start to finish.

Why Was the Two Bounce Rule Created for Pickleball?

The two bounce rule was instituted as one of the foundational rules of pickleball for several key reasons:

To Prevent Aggressive Volleying on the Serve and Return

If volleying was allowed on the serve and return, it would enable players to be overly aggressive right from the start of a point. By necessitating bounces, it promotes longer rallies rather than quick points.

To Allow the Ball to Bounce Into Play

Requiring the ball to bounce gives it a chance to bounce into play on the serve and return. This makes it easier to return for recreational players.

To Extend Rallies and Gameplay

The two bounce rule supports longer volleys once the ball has been put into play. This gives games more back-and-forth action, athleticism and entertainment value.

To Create Consistent Rules Across Skill Levels

The mandate levels the playing field between competitive and casual players. It enables people of diverse skill levels and experience to enjoy the game together.

How Does the Two Bounce Rule Actually Work in Pickleball?

The two bounce rule is straightforward in theory but can get confusing in practice. Here is exactly how it works in pickleball:

On the Serve

After the serve, the ball must bounce once in the receiving service court before it can be returned by the receiving team.

On the Return

After the return of serve, the ball must then bounce once in the serving team’s court before they can hit it back to the opposing team.

After the Two Bounces

Once the ball has bounced once on each side of the net off the serve and return, volleying is then allowed. From this point on in the rally, players can hit the ball out of the air without waiting for it to bounce.

The Sequence Overall

So in summary, the sequence mandated by the two bounce rule goes:

  1. Serve
  2. Bounce in receiving court
  3. Return
  4. Bounce in serving court
  5. Volleying allowed

This two bounce sequence restarts after every serve.

Why Isn’t it Called the “Double Bounce” Rule?

You may be wondering why this rule isn’t referred to as the “double bounce” rule, since the ball bounces twice.

This is because a double bounce has an entirely different meaning in pickleball. A double bounce is an illegal play that occurs when the ball bounces twice on one side of the court before being returned.

The two bounce sequence is very different than a fault-causing double bounce. So to reduce confusion between these contrasting terms, pickleball authorities officially decided to call it the two bounce rule rather than the double bounce rule.

When Was the Two Bounce Rule Established in Pickleball?

The two bounce rule has been in place since the invention of pickleball in 1965. However, it wasn’t always referred to as the “two bounce rule.”

Originally, it was called the “double bounce” rule. But starting in 2018, the pickleball governing bodies decided to rename it to the two bounce rule to eliminate confusion over the term double bounce.

So while the rule itself has always existed in pickleball, its widespread official name of the “two bounce rule” is newer – being codified starting in 2018.

What Types of Shots Are Prohibited By the Two Bounce Rule?

The two bounce mandate prohibits certain shots before and after the serve, including:

Volleying the Serve

Volleying or hitting the ball out of the air before it bounces is not allowed on the serve return. The receiving team must let it bounce first.

Volleying the Serve Return

Likewise, the serving team cannot volley the ball on their first shot after the return. They must let the return bounce as well.

Hitting a Double Bounce

As mentioned, the ball is never allowed to bounce twice on one side before being returned. This is a fault.

So in essence, the two bounce rule prohibits aggressively volleying the ball until after it has had a chance to bounce once on each side of the net to start the point. This promotes longer, more dynamic rallies.

What Happens If the Two Bounce Rule Is Broken?

If a player violates the two bounce sequence, it results in a fault for their team. Some examples include:

  • The returning team volleys the serve without letting it bounce first.
  • The serving team volleys the return without a bounce.
  • The ball bounces twice on either side of the court at any time.

After a two bounce rule fault, the point ends and the next point begins with the server from the opposite team. So breaking the two bounce rule gives your opponents the next serve.

Why Is the Two Bounce Rule Important in Pickleball?

Beyond just being an official rule, the two bounce sequence is important because it:

  • Allows both teams time to strategically get into position before volleying begins.
  • Gives the ball and players a moment to reset after the serve and return.
  • Generates longer, more dynamic rallies.
  • Prevents aggressive spikes and slams off the serve.
  • Levels the playing field across skill levels.
  • Provides a consistent, orderly structure to every point from start to finish.

The two bounce mandate essentially sets the rhythm and foundation for the gameplay of pickleball as a whole. It shapes the sport into what it uniquely is.

How Does the Two Bounce Rule Change Pickleball Strategy?

The two bounce sequence influences pickleball strategy in certain ways:

Serving Strategy

On the serve, the two bounces rule prohibits spiking and slamming the ball. So servers must use control, placement and finesse instead of aggressive power.

Returning Strategy

Returners cannot immediately slam the ball back, having to let it bounce first. This allows time to strategically position themselves on the court before returning.

Rhythm and Flow

The two bounces enforce a predictable rhythm and back-and-forth flow as each point begins. This allows partners to coordinate their positions and shots.

Scoring Strategy

Since the rule precludes quick smash points off the serve, it often leads to slower point scoring overall. This affects game strategy and patience.

Volley Positioning

The mandated bounces allow teams a moment to get into optimal volley position before the volley exchange begins. This improves quality volleys once they start.

So in many ways, the two bounce rule shifts pickleball toward more placement, control and strategy over outright slamming power.

How Does the Two Bounce Rule Affect Gameplay for Beginners?

The two bounce rule provides some key benefits especially for beginner pickleball players:

Allows Time to Get Ready

Beginners have a moment to get positioned and ready before having to hit their first shot after the serve.

###Makes Returning Easier

Letting the ball bounce gives beginners an easier, more standardized return rather than having to volley a fast serve.

Slows the Pace

The slower pace at the start of points allows beginners to get acclimated to gameplay before the volleying begins.

Prevents Aggressive Shots

Smashing and spiking are prohibited off the serve and return, creating a friendly environment for new players.

Provides Repetition and Practice

The repetitive two bounce sequence gives beginners frequent opportunities to work on serves and returns.

Overall, the enforced bounce sequence helps beginners ease into the flow of the sport and gives them time to react at the start of points. This levels the playing field when competing against or playing with experienced players.

Common Beginner Mistakes Related to the Two Bounce Rule

Due to its central importance, the two bounce rule is one of the most common areas beginners make errors in pickleball:

Volleying the Serve Return

Beginners often incorrectly volley the ball on their first shot after the serve before letting it bounce.

Volleying After One Bounce

After letting the serve bounce, beginners will sometimes then volley the return before their opponent’s bounce.

Hitting Double Bounces

New players often unintentionally hit double bounces as they learn ball control, violating the rule.

Forgetting the Sequence Order

Beginners may simply forget the mandated sequence of bounces, and volley at the wrong times.

Getting the Terms Mixed Up

As mentioned, beginners often confuse the term “double bounce” vs. the “two bounce rule” when first learning pickleball.

With practice, the two bounce sequence will start to feel natural. But when just starting out, actively focusing on the rule is key to avoiding these common mistakes.

How Can You Remember the Two Bounce Rule When Playing?

Here are some tips to help you remember and follow the two bounce rule during gameplay:

  • Say it out loud – Verbalize “bounce” when the ball should bounce to remind yourself.
  • Visualize an imaginary line – Picture a line on the court you can’t cross until after two bounces.
  • Use an elastic on your paddle – Wrap an elastic band around your paddle handle after each bounce. Move it after two bounces as a visual cue.
  • Watch your opponents – If opponents are waiting for bounces, mirror them. Use it as a mutual reminder.
  • Review before games – Take 30 seconds before each game to review the rule with your partner.
  • Call your own faults – If you violate the rule, call a fault on yourself to penalize and reinforce the sequence.

Why Do Some Pickleball Players Dislike the Two Bounce Rule?

While the two bounce rule is considered a core pillar of pickleball by most, some competitive players argue against it for a few reasons:

  • Less exciting action – For athletic players, it delays exciting volleys and slam shots they enjoy.
  • Slows gameplay – Volleying from the start could increase speed and intensity some want.
  • Caters to beginners – It shapes the game around accommodating new players rather than expert play at the highest level.
  • Restricts serving – It prohibits aggressive serving strategies like spiking off the serve.

However, the majority of recreational players enjoy the orderly structure, longer rallies and friendly nature that the two bounce rule facilitates. The popularity of pickleball today was built upon this foundational rule staying in place.

Controversy and Arguments Around Changing the Two Bounce Rule

In past years, there have been some controversies and debates around modifying or eliminating the two bounce rule:

Differing Opinions Between Governing Bodies

Some rising younger professional pickleball organizations have lobbied for eliminating the rule to speed up gameplay. But longstanding recreational organizations have pushed back to keep it to promote the original recreational spirit of the sport.

Identity Crisis Around Pickleball’s Direction

Arguments over the rule have exemplified the internal debates over whether pickleball should evolve toward a professional competitive sport or stay true to its casual origins and broad participation base.

Experimenting With Rule Variations

Some newer alternate pickleball formats have experimented with reducing or dropping the two bounce rule. But widespread adoption of rule changes would be difficult since the rule is ingrained as a cultural norm across millions of casual players.

Pros vs. Joes Divide

As the pro levels of pickleball rise, arguments pit the desires of talented athletes against the preferences of the masses of everyday weekend warriors who just play for fun fitness.

Ultimately, most authorities have upheld keeping the two bounce rule to preserve the integrity of the sport and avoid alienating its broad recreational base. But the controversies reveal the tensions that arise as niche sports expand toward becoming widely competitive professional leagues.

How Could the Two Bounce Rule Potentially Evolve in the Future?

While eliminating the two bounce rule wholesale would be unlikely and unpopular, there are possibilities for slight evolutions over time:

  • Allowing a single volley after the serve before mandating one bounce.
  • Only requiring the two bounces at certain beginner skill levels rather than across all leagues.
  • Having it only apply on the serve but not on the return.
  • Reducing the rule to one required bounce rather than two.
  • Alternate pickleball formats excluding the rule to create faster-paced variations.
  • Grassroots tournaments experimenting with rule modifications even if not officially adopted.
  • Separate pro divisions being created that eliminate the rule but keeping it for amateur leagues.
  • Hybrid approaches limiting volleys/slams immediately after serves but allowing them after the return.

Any changes would likely happen incrementally so as not to disenfranchise the traditional base. But some evolution could make the game more dynamic while still upholding the spirit behind the iconic two bounce rule.


The two bounce rule requiring the ball to bounce once on each side before volleys are allowed is a foundational pickleball rule. It shapes pacing, rallies, serving strategy and beginner accessibility. Arguments have emerged between competitive and casual players around potentially modifying or eliminating the rule to increase action and speed. But overall, the sequence creates a unique rhythm, flow and personality for the sport that the majority wants to uphold. New and experienced players alike must commit the two bounce rule to memory and rigorously abide by it, as it provides the DNA behind the gameplay of pickleball as we know it.

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