Can you play 1 on 1 pickleball | Explained

Pickleball, a popular paddle sport, combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Played on a smaller court with a low net, it involves two or four players using solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over the net. The game is known for its accessibility, making it suitable for all ages and skill levels. Pickleball emphasizes quick reflexes, precise shots, and strategic game play. It’s a social and engaging activity that promotes fitness and friendly competition. With its growing popularity worldwide, pickleball continues to bring people together for fun and active play.

But one question that often comes up is, can you play 1 on 1 pickleball? The short answer is yes, you can definitely play 1 on 1 pickleball. In fact, it’s a great way to improve your skills and have some friendly competition with a friend or family member. In fact, many players enjoy the challenge of playing one on one.

Rules of Playing 1 on 1 Pickleball

Most people are familiar with the traditional doubles game play, there is also the option to play 1 on 1 pickleball. Here, we will break down the rules for 1 on 1 pickleball and how it differs from doubles game play.

The Court and Equipment

Before diving into the rules, it’s important to understand the basics of the court and equipment used in pickleball. The court is similar to a tennis court, but smaller in size, measuring 20 feet by 44 feet. The net is placed at the center of the court, measuring 36 inches at the center and 34 inches at the sidelines. As for equipment, players use a paddle, similar to a ping pong paddle, and a plastic ball with holes, similar to a wiffle ball.

Game play

The game is played with a “rally” system, meaning that the ball must be hit back and forth between players until one team fails to return it. The ball must bounce once on each side before players can enter the non-volley zone and hit the ball in the air. This rule prevents players from standing close to the net and smashing the ball, making the game more strategic and challenging.


The game starts with a serve, which must be done underhand and diagonally across the court. The server must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball into the opposite service court. The serve must clear the non-volley zone and land in the service court to be considered valid. If the serve hits the net and lands in the correct service court, it is called a “let” and can be retaken without penalty.


Similar to tennis, pickleball is played in sets, with each set consisting of 11 points. However, the winning team must have a two-point lead to win the set. If the score reaches 10-10, the game continues until one team has a two-point lead. The first player to win two sets wins the match.

Differ from Doubles

One of the main differences between 1 on 1 and doubles pickleball is the court positioning. In doubles, players are allowed to move anywhere on their side of the court, while in 1 on 1, players must stay on their side of the court, with the exception of chasing down a ball. This adds an extra level of strategy and movement to the game.

Another key difference is the “no volley zone” or “kitchen” rule. In doubles, players are not allowed to hit a volley (hitting the ball before it bounces) while standing in the kitchen. However, in 1 on 1, players are allowed to hit a volley from anywhere on their side of the court, including the kitchen.

Tips to boost Pickleball Skills in 1 on 1 Matches

Here are some tips that must keep in mind while playing 1 on 1 pickleball .

Get a Grip on Your Paddle

The first step to playing pickleball effectively is to have a proper grip on your paddle. Many beginners make the mistake of holding the paddle too tightly, which can lead to wrist and arm fatigue. Instead, hold the paddle with a relaxed grip, using your fingers to control the paddle and your wrist to add power to your shots. This will not only improve your control over the ball but also prevent injuries.

Master the Basics of Footwork

Footwork is crucial in pickleball, especially in 1 on 1 matches where you have to cover the entire court by yourself. As a beginner, it’s important to focus on mastering the basics of footwork, such as the split step and the shuffle step. The split step involves jumping slightly and landing with your feet shoulder-width apart, ready to move in any direction. The shuffle step is used to move quickly and efficiently around the court. Practice these footwork techniques to improve your speed and agility on the court.

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball

It may seem obvious, but keeping your eyes on the ball is crucial in pickleball. As a beginner, it’s easy to get distracted by your opponent or the movement of the ball. However, by keeping your eyes on the ball, you’ll be able to anticipate its trajectory and make better shots. This will also help you react quickly to your opponent’s shots and improve your overall game play.

Benefits of playing 1 on 1 pickleball

It is played on a smaller court with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. The game can be played in singles or doubles, but now we will focus on the benefits of playing 1 on 1 pickleball.

Improved Agility:

One of the main benefits of playing 1 on 1 pickleball is the improvement of agility. The game requires quick movements and changes in direction, which helps to develop agility and coordination. As you play, you will find yourself constantly moving and reacting to your opponent’s shots, which will improve your overall agility and balance.


In addition to agility, playing 1 on 1 pickleball also helps to improve your reflexes. The fast-paced nature of the game requires quick reactions and reflexes to return shots and keep the ball in play. As you continue to play, you will notice your reflexes becoming sharper and more precise, which can also benefit you in other sports and activities.

Low-Impact Exercise:

Another great benefit of playing 1 on 1 pickleball is that it is a low-impact exercise. This means that it puts less stress on your joints compared to other sports like tennis or basketball. This makes it a great option for people of all ages and fitness levels, as it can be played without causing strain or injury to the body.

Social Interaction:

Lastly, playing 1 on 1 pickleball is a great way to socialize and meet new people. The game can be played with friends, family, or even strangers at a local court. It is a fun and engaging activity that can bring people together and create new connections.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Playing 1 on 1 Pickleball

It may seem like a simple game, there are certain mistakes that players often make, especially when playing 1 on 1. These mistakes can cost you points and ultimately the game. Now we will discuss the common mistakes to avoid while playing 1 on 1 pickleball and how to overcome them.

Not Moving Your Feet

One of the most common mistakes in pickleball, especially in 1 on 1 games, is not moving your feet. Many players tend to stand in one spot and wait for the ball to come to them. This not only limits your reach but also makes it easier for your opponent to hit the ball past you. To overcome this mistake, make sure to constantly move your feet and position yourself in the center of the court. This will give you better coverage and allow you to react quickly to your opponent’s shots.

Not Using Your Non-Dominant Hand

Another mistake that players make is not using their non-dominant hand. In pickleball, using both hands is crucial, especially when playing 1 on 1. Many players tend to rely solely on their dominant hand, which limits their reach and makes it easier for their opponent to anticipate their shots. To overcome this mistake, practice using your non-dominant hand for shots such as backhands and volleys. This will not only improve your overall game but also make it harder for your opponent to predict your shots.

Not Communicating with Your Partner

In doubles pickleball, communication with your partner is key. However, even in 1 on 1 games, communication is important. Many players make the mistake of not communicating with their opponent, which can lead to confusion and missed shots. To overcome this mistake, make sure to communicate with your opponent, especially when it comes to calling out shots that are going out of bounds. This will not only improve the flow of the game but also show good sportsmanship.

Not Adapting to Your Opponent’s Style

Every player has their own unique style of playing pickleball. Some may be more aggressive, while others may focus on defence. One common mistake that players make is not adapting to their opponent’s style. This can lead to frustration and ultimately affect your performance. To overcome this mistake, pay attention to your opponent’s style of play and adjust your strategy accordingly. This will not only make the game more challenging but also improve your overall skills as a player.


After diving deep into the world of pickleball and examining the various aspects of playing this unique sport, we can confidently say that it is definitely possible to play 1 on 1 pickleball. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, this game offers endless opportunities for fun and competition. From understanding the rules and equipment to perfecting your skills and strategies, playing pickleball will surely keep you engaged and entertained. And let’s not forget the amazing health benefits that come with it improved hand-eye coordination, increased flexibility and cardiovascular endurance just to name a few.

So if you’re still on the fence about trying out this game, we highly encourage you to grab a paddle and hit the court! Who knows, you may find yourself completely hooked on the exhilarating experience of playing one on one pickleball.

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