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6 Things You Need to Know to Navigate Pickleball Scoring

6 Things You Need to Know to Navigate Pickleball Scoring

Understanding how to keep score in pickleball is essential for anyone serious about the game. The pickleball scoring system may seem daunting at first, but with practice and understanding, it becomes second nature. In this guide, we will break down the rules and some tips behind pickleball scoring so you can confidently keep score during your next game. 


1. The Basics of Pickleball Scoring

So, how do you keep score in pickleball? Let's start with the very basics. A game of pickleball is typically played to 11 points, and the winning team must win by at least 2 points. The unique aspect of pickleball scoring is – similar to volleyball – that points can only be scored by the serving team. This means that if the receiving team wins a rally, they will not get a point but instead the serve passes to the next server. The serving team will only score a point if they win the rally or if the receiving team commits a fault. 

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2. Ways to Score a Point in Pickleball

  • The serving team wins a rally

  • The receiving team commits a fault (i.e., hits the ball out of bounds)

  • The receiving team fails to return the ball before it bounces twice on their side of the court

Again, only the serving team can score the point.

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3. The Pickleball Serving Rotation

Pickleball games start with the player on the right-hand side of the court making the first serve. The servers alternate sides until they commit a serve fault or lose the point, which prompts the service to pass to their partner. When both partners experience a fault or lose a point, the service is then transferred to the opposing team. Notably, during the first service of the game, when the serve is lost, service goes directly to the opposing team without giving the partner an opportunity to serve. 

4. How to Keep Score in Pickleball

Each point begins by announcing the score, which consists of three numbers: the serving team's score, the opponent's score, the server number (either 1 or 2). The initial server, positioned on the right-hand side, always serves first and is designated as Server 1. This individual retains the role of Server 1 until their team loses the serve. Suppose you are the first server for your team, and your team has accumulated 4 points while the opponents have 5. In this case, the score would be stated as 4, 5, 1. 

5. Tips To Master Pickleball Scoring

  • Assign one person on each team to keep track of the score and confirm with each other after every point.

  • Make a habit of announcing the score before each serve to ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • If your team’s score is even, then the first server--from the beginning of the game--should be on the right hand side. If it’s odd, then the second server should be on the right hand side. 

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6. Singles Pickleball Scoring

Singles pickleball scoring is very similar to doubles pickleball scoring but without the server number component. In singles, the serve always starts from the right side for even server scores and the left side for odd scores. The server's score determines the serving position, and the receiver aligns diagonally across accordingly. The score is announced as the server's score followed by the receiver's score. No server number is used in the score.

Understanding pickleball scoring ensures confident gameplay. The pickleball community is inclusive and supportive, and fellow players are generally willing to assist until you become familiar with the sport dynamics. For additional insights into pickleball scoring, consider exploring USA Pickleball Rules Summary.

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