Pickleball Terms and Lingo: A Comprehensive Glossary

Pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in the United States, has developed unique pickleball terminology and lingo over the years. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting, understanding these terms is essential for effective communication and gameplay. 


Here’s a comprehensive glossary of pickleball terms to help you master the basics of pickleball lingo and navigate the court with confidence:



A serve that the opponent fails to return, resulting in a point for the server.



Advantage refers to a situation where one player or team needs only one more point to win the game after a deuce.


Around-the-Post (ATP)

A spectacular shot where the ball is hit around the net post and lands in bounds, usually from an extreme angle.



In a backhand shot, the player hits the ball on the non-dominant side of their body (i.e., the right side for left-handed players) or the non-dominant side of the court with the back side of the paddle.



The rearmost line on the pickleball court that is parallel to the net.


Block Shot

A defensive shot where the player blocks the opponent’s shot with a short, controlled movement. Usually used to counter fast-paced shots.


Center Line

The line on either side of the net divides the area between the non-volley line and the baseline. Sometimes referred to as the Middle Line.


Chainsaw Serve

A serve technique where the paddle is swung in a motion similar to starting a chainsaw, causing the ball to spin and creating an unpredictable trajectory.


Chicken Wing

An awkward and ineffective stroke where the elbow juts out, resembling a chicken’s wing.



A shot hit diagonally across the net to the opponent’s side of the court.



A tie score of 10 points or more, where one side needs to score two points to secure the game.



A soft shot hit just over the net with minimal force, intended to drop the ball close to the opponent’s side.


Double Bounce

A rule in pickleball where the ball must bounce once on each side of the net during the serve and return before players can volley.



A powerful shot hit with force and pace, usually aimed deep into the opponent’s court.


Drop Shot

A shot hit softly and close to the net, intended to drop quickly and make it difficult for the opponent to reach.


Erne Shot

A shot that is executed by quickly moving towards the sideline and hitting the ball before it bounces.



A playful term used to describe a mishit shot that goes off target or misses entirely.



Another term for a mishit shot, often resulting in the ball going too high or landing short of the intended target.


Flick Shot

A quick, short motion that pops the ball over the net.


Foot Fault

When a player steps on or over the baseline or sidelines while serving.



A stroke executed with the server’s dominant forearm facing forward.


Golden Set

A set where a player or team wins without losing a single point.


Golden Sombrero

Losing a match without winning a single point.



A shot hit after the ball bounces once on the court.


Half Volley

A shot where the ball is hit immediately after it bounces, usually close to the ground.



A shot hit diagonally across the court, changing direction from the player’s initial position.



A slang term for the non-volley zone (NVZ), a seven-foot area on both sides of the net where volleys are not allowed.


Kitchen Violation

A fault occurring when a player steps into the non-volley zone while hitting the ball.



When a served ball touches the net but still lands in the correct service court, resulting in a replay of the point.


Line Judge

A referee who monitors whether the ball lands in or out of bounds.



A high, arching shot hit deep into the opponent’s court, usually intended to force them back.



A contest or game between two individuals or teams.


Match Point

The final point that results in the serving side winning the match. Only the serving side can score a point.


Mind Games

Psychological strategies used by players to gain a mental advantage over their opponents.


Net Cord

The top of the net that the ball may hit during play.


Net Post

The vertical post at each end of the net.


No Man’s Land

The area between the non-volley zone and the baseline that is often considered a vulnerable position on the court.


Non-Volley Zone (NVZ)

The seven-foot area occupying both sides of the net where volleys are not allowed.



A shot hit with an outward spin that lands inside the opponent’s court.


Overhead Smash

A powerful shot hit from above the player’s head.



The Pickleball paddle is a piece of equipment used to hit the pickleball and features a solid hitting surface. It’s important to learn how to hold a pickleball paddle properly.


A term shouted by players on the pickleball court indicating that the server is about to serve the ball.



When a player or team scores zero points in a game. If you lose without scoring, you’ve been “pickled.”​



Moving into the opponent’s side of the court to intercept a shot.


Quick Pickle

A fast-paced and aggressive style of play.



A sequence of continuous play between players after the serve and without the ball touching the ground.


Ready Position

The stance a player adopts in anticipation of the opponent’s shot.


Reset Shot

A controlled shot intended to regain control of the rally.



The current points tally in a game.



A collection of games played to determine the winner of a match.


Side Out

When the serving side loses the serve, forfeiting that serve to the opposing side.


Side Spin

Spin that is applied to the ball to make it curve sideways during flight.



A shot hit with a downward motion, causing the ball to spin and drop sharply.



A powerful overhead shot executed with force and speed, usually aimed to end the point.



Rotation applied to the ball to influence its trajectory and behavior during flight.


Split Step

A slight hop or step taken by players to quickly adjust their position and react to their opponent’s shot.


Sport Court

A specialized type of court surface designed for pickleball and other sports.



A strategy in doubles play where players position themselves in a specific order to optimize court coverage and strategy.


Sweet Spot

The optimal hitting area on the paddle for maximum control and power.


Swing Volley

A shot played without allowing the ball to bounce, using a full swinging motion.


Ten-Point Tiebreaker

A tiebreaker played to 10 points, requiring a two-point margin for victory.


Third Shot Drop

A soft, controlled shot played by the serving team as their third shot, usually to avoid giving the opponents an opportunity to attack.


Top Spin

Spin applied to the ball to make it rotate forward, causing it to dip and bounce higher upon landing.



The USA Pickleball Association is the governing body for pickleball in the United States.



A shot where the ball is hit in mid-air before it bounces on the ground. 


Check Out Dominator Pickleball Products 

Understanding these pickleball terms and lingo is essential for both beginners and experienced players. Knowing the correct terms can significantly enhance your enjoyment and performance on the court, improve strategic planning, and give you a deeper appreciation for the game. 

Whether you’re a casual player or a competitive athlete, mastering these terms will help you communicate effectively with your fellow players and strategize more efficiently during friendly and competitive matches.

Dominator has everything you need to get started with your new pickleball obsession. Check out Dominator’s high-quality pickleball products to improve your game today.