Pickleball player holding a pickleball paddle

Top Pickleball Slang Words

Pickleball is a game that has been growing in popularity over the years, and as with any sport, it has its own set of slang terms that are commonly used among players. These terms can be confusing for beginners or those who are new to the sport, so in this post, we will explain some of the most common pickleball slang terms.


A dink is a soft shot that is hit just over the net, often used in the kitchen or non-volley zone to set up a winning shot. The goal of a dink is to make it difficult for the opponent to return the ball without hitting it into the net.

Kitchen (Non-Volley Zone)

The kitchen, also known as the non-volley zone, is the area near the net where players are not allowed to hit the ball in the air. This rule is in place to prevent players from dominating the game with aggressive volleys.

Non-Volley Line

The line separates the kitchen from the two service areas. This line is "out" during serves and the serve must land within the service area crosscourt to the server. This is the only line that is considered "out of bounds" during play, but only during a serve. 


The backcourt is a few feet behind the baseline of the court. This is where a player will stand to serve the ball and can't cross the baseline. 


A banger is a hard, aggressive shot hit with power. This shot is often used to end a rally quickly or to put the opponent on the defensive.

Third Shot Drop

The third shot drop is a strategic shot played by the serving team on the third shot of the game. The goal of this shot is to land the ball softly in the kitchen, giving the serving team a chance to move up to the net and gain control of the point.


An Ernie is a move where a player moves outside of the court and hits a ball backhand from the air before it bounces. This is a difficult shot that requires a lot of skill and practice with your paddle.


A poach is a move where one player crosses over into their partner's side of the court to intercept a shot. This move is often used to surprise the opponents and gain an advantage in the rally.


A lob is a high, arching shot hit over an opponent's head. This shot is often used to reset a point or gain time to get back into position.

Pickleball Singles

Singles Pickleball is a game played between two players using the entire pickleball court.

Skinny Singles

A game played between two players using only half of the court. The centerline is used as out of bounds.

Pickleball Doubles

A game played between 4 total players. 2 players on each team using the entire court for play. 

Side Out

A "side out" occurs after both players on a team have lost their serve and turn the possession over to their opponents.


A serve is the first hit that puts the ball into play. A serve must be an upward motion and can't hit the ball at any angle. The serve must be below the waist level. 


A serve that isn't returned from the opposing player or team. This can be due to a great serve or a player missing the return. Don't forget to switch sides with your team mate before the next serve. 


The return is the 2nd hit that happens after the serve. The server will serve the ball to the opposing team and this player "returns" the serve back to the server. 


A backhand is when the player hits the ball with the back of their paddle across their body. This generally happens with players are dinking, or when their opponent hits a shot at their off-hand or the hand that doesn't hold their paddle.


A forehand is a shot that a player hits with the paddle facing forward. This is best used when your opponent hits the ball at your on hand or that hand that you hold your paddle with. 

Back Spin

Backspin is created when a player lightly hits the ball while chopping down upon contact. This creates the ball to spin backward and once it reaches the opponent's side of the court it tends to lose momentum and speed. 

Front Spin

Front spin is the opposite of backspin where a player will try to hit the top of the ball. This creates forward momentum for the ball and can speed up or dive down after a bounce. 


A rally occurs after both teams have successfully returned the ball back and forth multiple times. You will see rallies take place during pro tournaments when they hit the ball back and forth for several minutes without a team gaining a point or winning the serve. 


These are just a few of the slang terms that are commonly used in pickleball. As with any sport, the use of these terms can vary depending on the region or group of players. However, by understanding these terms, you can improve your communication and understanding of the game. No matter which paddle you play with, try using some of these slang terms to sound like a seasoned pickleball player!

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