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Where Does the Receiver Stand in Pickleball?

Active retired women playing pickleball in court.

Typically, the receiver stands diagonal to the server in pickleball. This can change in singles, but not in doubles. In singles matches, only two individuals play, and they stand diagonal to each other with any even score.

They stand across from one another during an odd score. If that sounds odd, let me explain. In pickleball, the match always begins in the right volley zone.

Both the server and the receiver stand in their respective right volley zone. When the server scores, that individual changes to the left volley zone. The receiver doesn’t move.

This means that depending on the score, although immobile from zone to zone during service, the receiver stands across from the server about half of the time and diagonal to the server about half of the time. When the server faults, the receiver becomes the server. At this point, the former receiver assumes the position of the server.

In cases of an even score, the new server starts in the right volley zone. In cases of an even score, the new server starts in the left volley zone.

What about doubles?

Men's double team playing pickleball.

In the case of doubles, you have one server and two receivers. This means that one receiver stands directly across from the server and the other stands diagonal to the server.

Movement in Pickleball

Adult man and woman playing pickleball in court.

That covers where receivers stand, but what about movement in pickleball? Where can the receiver go? As long as the receivers do not enter the non-volley zone, they can move anywhere within the court lines that they want.

The non-volley zone, also called the kitchen, extends from one end of the net to the other and from the net, seven feet into the court on both sides of the net.

Dividing the Court Using Common Colors

You won’t need to estimate that area. Most pickleball courts contain lines that divide the court in addition to those that mark its borders. Typically, installers paint the non-volley zones a different color than the volley zones.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

The common colors for a court include red for the non-volley zone and green for the volley zone. Since that jibes with traffic lights throughout the US, people find it comfortable to remember red means stop, green means go. A player cannot make a serve from a non-volley zone.

They cannot stand in it or run into it either while making a shot. If that sounds tough, it should. It adds to the challenge, but it reduces the amount of running and lunging needed to play the game.

For this reason, it has become popular with both young and old.

Stacking in Doubles

Two young teenagers playing pickleball.

In pickleball, although each member of the doubles team must stand in a separate volley zone, the rules don’t prescribe where in the volley zone they must stand. Either the receiving or serving team or both can stand in a configuration called stacking. Stacking refers to two individuals lining up on the diagonal within their own volley zone.

What makes a fault?

As long as the receiver does not step out of bounds nor into the non-volley zone, no fault occurs. Stepping on or across any line except the center volley zone line incurs a fault. Regarding the non-volley zone, more than not standing in it, your paddle can’t enter it, and neither can any part of your body.

You incur a fault.

The Rules May Change Soon

Pickleball player held by player.

Currently, the governing body of pickleball has a few rules changes under consideration. If you learn to play pickleball under the existing rules, you can keep using them for friendly games. If you plan to compete in tournaments, you’ll need to keep abreast of rules changes and learn to implement their effects into your playing strategy.

How to Avoid Conflicts During Pickleball?

To get someone to take the often thankless job of the referee, offer to buy them lunch or dinner. This provides the singles or doubles competitors with an objective line caller who watches the games and determines the faults. This person can also keep score.

It helps if they play the game or know the rules well, so they can call a fault if the receiver stands in the incorrect place, such as if the receiver tries to change volley zones or trade spots with their doubles partner.