Pickleball Information


Pickleball rules are simple, and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but it can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game. 

Pickleball Basics

Pickleball combines many elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It is played on a court similar in size to a doubles-badminton court. The net, however, is similar in size to a tennis net. The court is used for both singles and doubles. The ball is a plastic “wiffle” ball and paddles are used instead of a racquet. The court is striped similar to a tennis court. It has both right and left service areas and a 7-foot, non-volley zone referred to by players as the “kitchen,” which includes the lines of that zone. Volleys are permitted by players only if neither of their feet are in the kitchen, this includes when a player’s momentum causes them to the enter the kitchen after making a volley outside of the non-volley zone. Games are normally scored first to 11 points, win by 2 (tournaments can sometimes be first to 15 or 21, win by 2). Points are only won by the server or serving team. Serves are underhand, cross-court, and start on the right side. If the serve point is won by the serving team, the next serve is then served on the left side. This continues right and left until the receiving team wins a point, gaining the opportunity to serve and score points. Both teams must allow the ball to bounce once before making their first volley.

USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) Rules Summary PDF 

Pickleball Program Levels

The TOEH Recreation Department uses the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) “Definitions of Player Skill Ratings” or “NTRP” system to define the level of play for each pickleball program offered. A person’s pickleball level is described by a number system which ranges from 1.0 to 5.5+. 

Here is a brief overview of our program levels according to the NTRP system:

Pickleball for Fun (ages 18+) – 1.0-3.0 

Competitive Pickleball (ages 18+) – 3.0 or higher

Pickleball 4.0 (ages 18+) – 4.0 or higher

Pickleball Lessons (ages 18+) – All levels

(Please refer to the Montauk Playhouse Gymnasium Schedule to confirm when each Pickleball Program is offered.)


To enroll in TOEH Pickleball please first do a “Self-Evaluation” for your level as per the description below and then register online at Recreation Programs 



It is important to honestly self-evaluate your own playing ability according to the below USAPA rating system before attending one of our pickleball program offerings. 

Here is a description of NTRP levels:

1.0-2.0 - This player is just starting to play pickleball and has no other sports background. Minimal understanding of rules of the game.

2.5 - This player has limited experience. Can sustain a short rally with players of equal ability. Basic ability to keep score.

3.0 – 

Ability to hit a medium paced shot. Lacks directional intent and consistency.

Avoids using a backhand. Lacks directional intent and consistency.

Able to hit a medium paced shot. Lacks depth, direction, and consistency.

Not able to consistently sustain a dink rally. Not yet developed the ability to control this shot.

Generally hits a medium paced ball with little direction.

Able to hit a medium paced shot. Lacks direction/inconsistent.

Understands fundamentals. Is learning proper court positioning. Knows the fundamental rules and can keep score and is now playing tournaments.

3.5 - 

Improved stroke development with moderate level of shot control.

Learning stroke form and starting to develop consistency but will avoid if possible.

Consistently gets serve/return in play with limited ability to control depth.

Increased consistency, with limited ability to control height/depth. Sustains medium length rallies. Starting to understand variations of pace.

Developing the drop shot in a way to get to the net.

Is able to volley medium paced shots thereby developing control.

Moves quickly towards the non-volley zone (NVZ) when opportunity is there. Acknowledges difference between hard game and soft game and is starting to vary own game during recreation and tournament play. Can sustain short rallies. Is learning proper court positioning. Basic knowledge of stacking and understands situations where it can be effective.

4.0 - 

Consistently hits with depth and control. Is still perfecting shot selection and timing.

Has improved stroke mechanics and has moderate success at hitting a backhand consistently.

Places a high majority of serves/returns with varying depth and speed.

Increased consistency with moderate ability to control height/depth. May end dink rally too soon due to lack of patience. Is beginning to understand difference between attackable balls and those that are not.

 Selectively mixing up soft shots with power shots to create an advantage with inconsistent results.

Able to volley a variety of shots at different speeds. Is developing consistency and control. Starting to understand the block/re-set volley.

Aware of partner’s position on the court and is able to move as a team. Demonstrates ability to change direction in an offensive manner. Demonstrates a broad knowledge of the rules of the game. Has a moderate number of unforced errors per game. Solid understanding of stacking and when and how it could be used in match play. Beginning to identify opponents’ weaknesses and attempts to formulate game plan to attack weaknesses. Beginning to seek out more competitive play.

Higher Levels

To reference levels 4.5 and up, please visit the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) “Definitions of Player Skill Ratings” webpage.


For further, general information regarding the sport of pickleball, please visit: usapickleball.org