By: CJ Johnson | July 12, 2019 |

Playing Tip: Pickleball Language Primer

A game as fast as pickleball requires an abbreviated pickleball language to communicate.

One of the first phrases of pickleball language new players learn is the “non-volley zone,” the first 7 feet on each side of the net, is called the “kitchen.”

A “dink” is a shot intended to land in the opponents’ kitchen.

Yelling “no” to your partner is short for “let it go,” which is short for, “I think it’s going to be out, so don’t hit it.

“Ball” means “there is a stray ball on or approaching our court, and we need to stop play before someone gets hurt.”

“Good shot” to your opponent means “how did I miss that? I better get with it.”

“Nice try” to your partner, three times in a row, means “this guy stinks, I need a new partner.”

“#$!!” means “how did I blow that shot?”

“Switch” means “I know you can’t get that lob, so I’m running behind you to hit it. You need to move across to cover the other side of the court.”

Haven’t had enough? Here’s more pickleball language.

“Back” means the opponents are going to take that high shot we gave them and slam it back at us. We have a better chance of defending if we move to the baseline now.”

“Ballet” can be short for a score of 2-2-2 (tutus). Or, sometimes “trains” means 2-2-2 (choo, choo, choo.) “Sale” can mean a score of 2-4-1.

“I need to sit one out” can mean you need a break, or it might mean you really don’t want to play in the next game with those players.

“Who served that” often means that you forgot it was you who served.

“Bagel” means one team has 0 points.

“Happy birthday” means “I know I just gave you a gift with that weak shot. You’re lucky.”

“Sorry” to your opponent when you hit a ball on the top of the net, and it rolls down on the opponents’ side of the court means “lucky me, haha.”

However, you abbreviate your pickleball language, PB, Pball, and Pickleball all mean a great way to get exercise and have fun.

Bev writes a weekly email blast for our pickleball club. She delivers the rules with clarity and a sense of humor. If you have a rules question, post it in the comments below.




CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)