Paddle tennis is a game very similar to tennis. The strokes, grips, scoring, and strategy of paddle tennis are the same as tennis.  See below for a Glossary of Terms and please click on “Rules” at the top of the screen to select specific aspects of the game (court size, paddle tennis ball, paddle size restricitions, service rules, etc) that you would like to learn about.

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In paddle tennis, the ball remains in play as long as both sides are able to successfully return the ball to the opponent’s court are, which includes the lines.  To return the ball successfully, it must be hit by a player either in the air or on the first bounce, and send in the air without bouncing, over the net or outside the uprights, and onto the other opponent’s court area.

The ultimate objective, then, is to hit a return in such a way that your opponent cannot hit the ball before it bounces twice on his/her side of the court, or before the ball hits the permanent fixture on his/her side, such as fencing.

Glossary of Terms

Ace: An unreturnable service hit beyond the reach of the receiver’s paddle.

Band: The strip of canvas attached to the top of the net. (Rules 2, 8, 11, 16, 20)

Base Line: The horizontal line at each end of the court that defines the length of the basic court (50′).  (Rules 1, 5, 6, 7, 16, 28)

Bucket: The area between the restraint line and the net into which the players may not advance until the receiver’s paddle strikes the ball.  Where the Restraint Rule is authorized. (Rule 35).

more terms...

Bucket Judge: That linesman whose duty is to judge and call out violations of the Restraint Rule. (Where Restraint Rule is authorized.)


Center Line: The longitudinal line dividing the court and defining the service courts. (1,5,6,7)


Fault: A served ball that breaches the service rules. (8,9,11,13,15,16)


Game: The unit of scoring higher than point. (7,12,22-26,29-32,37)


Ground Stroke: A ball that is stroked after having hit the ground (excepting a half volley).


Half-Volley: A stroke hit just as a ball is leaving the ground.


In Play: A ball is “in play” from the moment that it is delivered in service until the point has been decided. (13,16)


Let: A served ball that touches the net and yet goes into the proper court. Also any stroke that does not count and is played over. (9-11,20,35,37)


Linesman: That official whose duty it is to judge and alert the umpire on balls landing outside the playing court.


Match: The sum total score of all points and sets resulting in a win or loss between two players or teams. (25)


Net Cord Ball: A ball in play that touches the net and yet goes into the proper court on any stroke other than a serve. (A served ball in a similar situation is called a “let ball”.)


Not Up: The call when a player misses reaching a ball before it touches down a second time, often informally called “two bounces” or “double bounce”. Also applies to balls hit near the ground that go from paddle to ground then over the net. (16)


Permanent Fixtures: The Umpire, linesmen, and spectators and their chairs or stands, net, posts, back and side stops, and any other objects situated around the court. (2,8,16,19,21)


Point: The lowest unit of scoring. (7,12,14-17,19-22,31,33-35,37)


Post: One of the uprights supporting the net. (1,2,16,19,20)


Rally: The act of stroking the ball sevaral times before the point ends.


Tournament Director or Designate: The official who:

  • Shall appoint umpires and linesmen, assign courts and decide starting times
  • Decides points of law (but not a question of fact) which the umpire cannot decide – which may be appealed to him/her by the umpire.
  • Decides whether a match shall be postponed because of weather conditions – rain, darkness, winds, etc. Note: The umpire suspends play, the “TD” orders a postponement.
  • Has authority to default a player for failure to appear on time.


Restraint: The philosophy of the game which holds players away from the net until a rally has had an opportunity to develop. (16,30,35) The tournament committee for each respective tournament shall determine whether or not the Restraint (Bucket) Rule will govern.


Restraint Line: A line 12′ from the net and horizontally across the court, beyond which (toward net) players may not advance until a prescribed point in a rally. (1,35) (Where authorized)


Serve: The act of putting the ball in play. (4-9,11-16,20,29-33,35-37)


Service Line: The line to which the serve is hit. The serve is hit from behind the base line. (1,7)


Set: The unit of scoring higher than game. (23-25,28-30,37)


Side Line: The longitudinal line at each side of the court that defines the outside width of the playing surface (20’0″). (1,5-7)


Step: A motion of the feet during walking or running which is measured from the time a foot leaves the ground until it touches the ground at the completion of a stride. (6)


Tie Breaker: The scoring system which limits the extent of play thereby reducing the number of games played in order to win a set. (23,24,37)


Toss: To spin or throw a paddle in the air, or toss a coin for choice of service or court. (4,37)


Tournament: An official tournament played according to the USPTA “Rules of Play”. When it is declared an “open” tournament, professionals may compete.


Umpire: The officiant who:

  • Introduces players, keeps and calls out score at each point, game, set, and match.
  • Checks net height.
  • Repeats “out” or “fault” calls of linesmen.
  • Sees that players change sides, receive, and/or serve as specified in Rules
  • Sees that play is continuous within the Rules.
  • Suspends play when weather or other conditions make this advisable. (Subject to confirmation by Referee).
  • Supervises spin for choice of serve or court.
  • Calls the players to “action”. (17,27,28,35,37)


Volley: A stroke made by hitting or attempting to hit a ball before it has touched the ground. (16,20)