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So, you’ve come across a brand new sport – pickleball. There is no doubt that this game is fun and a great way of keeping active. But, as with tennis, the scoring, as well as, serving rotations, can be somewhat confusing.
All sports have their own unique scoring system and pickleball is no exception. Fortunately for you (and us), keeping score in pickleball is relatively simple. However, it will take a little bit of practice to get to grips with and you may be confused the first few times you play and keep score.
You may have heard that learning how to score in pickleball is harder than learning how to actually play it. But we don’t believe this! With a little guidance and understanding, you will be scoring like a pro in no time at all.
To help you along the way, we have compiled an in-depth guide on the scoring system in pickleball for both singles and doubles. We are going to go over what the scoring numbers mean and how to keep track so you will never be confused playing pickleball again.
Pickleball Rules: Doubles
So, let’s get started. We will begin with the scoring for doubles as it will make everything clearer when we discuss the singles game scoring system.
When you serve, you can call out three different things:
- Your team score
- Your opposition team’s score
- Whether you are the first or second server on your team
At the beginning of the game, the serving team must start with the second server (this is the person on the right). The score is 0-0-2 though some prefer the sequence of 0-0, second, or 0-0-start. This occurs so the first set of serves is limited to just one server. This is to try and minimize the advantage of serving first.
The first server will start the serve. If their team continues to win points, the same server will continue but they will switch back and forth from right to left alongside their teammate. If it is the start of the game, a serve is passed on to the other team, and whoever is on the right if the serving team loses a rally.
If you lose a serve (this is when the second serve loses the team a point), this is called a side out. In this instance, the receiving team will not switch sides. Next, the server number only counts for that serve, and whenever a team gets the serve from then on.
Whichever player is on the right side at the time of getting the serve will be the first server. The server number will change depending on when your team gets their serve back. In other (simpler) words, when you get the serve back, the person on the right is the first server, and the person on the left is the second server.
When the game begins, the server on the right will serve across the net to the player diagonally from them on the opposite side. When the serving side scores a point, the players of that team swap positions. The receiving side should not switch at all. The server will serve from alternating sides until the serving team loses a rally.
If the first server ends up losing a rally, the serve will go to the second server. If the second server loses a rally, the serve is handed over to the opposition. This is why it’s vital to call out the three numbers after each serve so all players know what will happen next.
In a tournament, the first server will usually wear a wristband. This means you can always check if they are on the correct side when they serve throughout a match.
Pickleball Rules: Singles
So, now we know how to score double matches, understanding scoring for singles is much easier. Let’s take a look.
As there is only one server on each side of the pickleball court, players do not need to announce the server number when they call out the score. Whenever a player is serving, the server should call out their own score first. This should be followed by the receiving player’s (opposition) score.
After every point by the server, the opposition (receiver) will have to switch sides to return the serve. The server continues their serves until they make a fault. When playing singles, you can only get one fault per side out unlike two faults for double matches.
You should remember that whenever the server’s score is even, they must be serving from the right. So, whether the score is 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and so on, serve from the right. And, if the score is odd (1, 3, 5, 7, etc), then you should serve from the left. This occurs throughout a whole match, so keep an eye on the score and the server’s side, even if you’re the server.
Another form of scoring in pickleball can make the game scoring much faster and arguably more exciting.
Let’s take a look at the difference between rally scoring and regular scoring in pickleball.
- Whoever wins a rally wins a point, even if they are not serving.
- Servers one and two do not exist in rally scoring. The side out happens every time the serving team loses a point. There is only one server per side out.
- You can call out your team’s score followed by your opposition’s score when you serve. Only two numbers are called out, as with a singles game.
- Like doubles, the first serve of the match comes from the right side of the court.
- If the serving team wins a point, they change sides (i.e. left to right, right to left). This is the only time such a switch happens.
- Whether the serving team’s score is even or odd, they always serve from the right
- It is recommended that you increase the winning score to a higher odd number due to the faster pace of scoring
- You can decide if the winner wins by one or two points
And that’s it! We hope we have made scoring in pickleball far easier to understand so you can play competitively from now on.