Pickleball Scoring Rules

Published on
September 26, 2023
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Scoring Basics

Pickleball has a simple scoring system that combines standard game scoring with a unique twist. A game is usually played to 11 points, although the winning team must win by a margin of at least two points. If the score is 10-10, the game will continue until one team gains a 2-point lead. Tournament games can be played to 15 or 21 points. Each rally starts with a serve. By winning a rally, only the serving team can score a point. Each player on a team has an opportunity to serve in doubles. Before each serve, the server should announce the score by first stating his or her team's score, followed by the opponent team's score, and then his or her server number, which can be one or two. For a team, the player on the correct service court will always serve first. If the serving team scores a point, the two players swap positions so that the first server now serves from the left service court. The serving team will keep trading positions until they lose a rally.

When the serving team’s score is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) the player who was the first server in the game for that team will be in the right-side court when serving or receiving; when odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) that player will be on the left-side court when serving or receiving.

The second server will now serve position if the serving team loses a rally. The opposing side now has two opportunities to serve once the serving team loses another rally. It's referred to as a side out.

Double bounce rule:

An important rule in pickleball is the double bounce rule. The double bounce rule says the ball must bounce once on each side before either team may start volleying the ball in the air. Here's an example of the serve and bounce rule in action. When team A serves to team B, the ball must bounce once before being returned. Team A must also allow the ball to bounce on their side once. After the ball has bounced on both sides, either team may volley it into the air or let it bounce once more before striking it.

Faults and Scoring

Scoring in pickleball can be a bit tricky, especially when it comes to understanding faults. Here are some key points to remember:

Service Faults: A service fault occurs when the server commits an error while serving. Common service faults include stepping on or beyond the baseline, serving into the wrong service court, or failing to hit the ball cleanly. When a fault occurs, the opposing team gains a point.

Double Faults: If a serving team commits two consecutive faults, they lose the serve, and the opposing team takes over serving from the right-hand side. This rotation continues throughout the game.

Rally Scoring: Unlike traditional sports, pickleball uses rally scoring, meaning that points can be scored by either the serving or receiving team. A point is won on every rally, regardless of which team served.

Side-Outs: A side-out occurs when the serving team loses the serve to the opposing team due to a fault. It results in the serving team losing their chance to score and the receiving team gaining the opportunity to serve.