Pickleball rules for doubles and singles are somewhat different. In doubles, servers on each team are allowed to serve before siding out. Scoring is different too, and is announced in the format "server score, opponent score, server number."
The Basic Rules for Pickleball Doubles
One of the most appealing aspects of pickleball is its straightforward ruleset. It’s a game that a beginner can pick up and fully understand within their first game.
Here are the basic rules for pickleball doubles:
- When playing pickleball doubles, each team must be composed of two individual players.
- The standard play area of the pickleball court is the same for singles and doubles (44′ x 20′).
- A coin flip determines the team who begins the game.
- The first team will only have one opportunity to serve before a side out. Each team will be allowed both servers to fault before siding out, thus having two service turns.
- At the start of the game, serving will always begin from the right side of the court. This will alternate from right to left, depending on your score as the game progresses.
- The serving team is the only one who can score points. There is no form of rally scoring.
- Points are awarded if the receiving team commits a fault or fails to successfully return the pickleball to the serving team’s side of the court.
- Games are played to 11 points and must be won by at least two more points than the opposing team.
The Two-Bounce Rule and The Kitchen
- Two-Bounce Rule: The ball must bounce once on the opposite side of the court when it is served and then immediately bounce again upon the return before players can start volley play.
- Players aren’t allowed in The Kitchen (the Non-Volley Zone) unless the ball bounces on their side of the court. You cannot continue your stride into The Kitchen even after making contact with the ball before entering The Kitchen.
Rules for Pickleball Serving
The sequence of serving in doubles is where things can get confusing for new players. In singles, the serve goes from one player to the opposing player upon siding out. A doubles team is allowed two serving attempts during gameplay, one for each player.
Here are the basics of serving in a doubles match:
- A server must strike the ball underhand, below their waste, and from behind the baseline.
- The serving side will alternate from right to left. If your score is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8…), then you will start your serve from the right side of the court. If your score is odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9…), then you will begin serving from the left side of the court.
- Once the serving team scores a point, the server switches sides of the court from right to left with their teammate. The receiving team’s players will not switch sides.
- The ball must bounce once within the area diagonal to the service area, beyond the kitchen, and on the opposite side of the centerline. If not, a fault is declared on the serve.
- When the first server loses a rally or makes a fault, the second server will begin serving from their side of the court.
- After your team’s second server loses a rally or faults, you will “side out,” meaning the opposing team will begin serving.
Calling the Score While Playing Pickleball Doubles
Pickleball scoring is announced simply in singles: The server’s score and then the receiver’s score (ie “Three, One”). However, when four players are involved, scoring can feel tricky.
In a doubles game, you must keep track and announce the server number, one for the first server and two for the second server, in addition to the game’s score.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way of remembering how to keep track of the score in doubles.
When announcing the score in doubles, you will first announce your score, then your opponent’s score, and finally, the server number. For example, you announce “Three, One, One.” In this case, your score is three points, your opponent’s score is one point, and you are the first server for this turn.
One easy way of remembering what each number represents in the score is by thinking of each number in the sequence as part of “Us, Them, Server.”
- The first number represents “us,” as it will always be your team’s score.
- The second number is “them,” where “them” is your opponent.
- Finally, think of your server number as simply “server.” “Server” will always be one if you started serving first this round or two if you’re serving second.
It’s important to remember that the server number applies for that service turn only. So, your server number could be the same or different the next time it’s your turn to serve.
The Difference in Rules Between Pickleball Doubles and Singles
The difference between singles and doubles in pickleball comes down to two key topics: serving rules and scoring rules.
These two aspects of the game are directly intertwined by the server, which has to announce the game’s score before beginning its serve.
Differences in Serving
In singles, the server changes back and forth between both players of the game after a side-out occurs. This pattern continues uninterrupted until one player wins the game.
In doubles, each team has two chances to serve—one for each player on the team. After the first server faults, the second server on that team will begin serving. Once the second server faults, then the opposing team begins serving.
Differences in Scoring
While the points scoring system is the same between singles and doubles, the way it is announced differs slightly. Because there are two players on each side, the additional value of the server is added to the point-tracking system.
Singles scoring is easy: you first say the serving team score, followed by the receiving team score. For example, if I’m serving in singles, I’d announce, “One, Four.” This means I have one point, and my opponent has four points.
There’s a key difference in doubles scoring. The server number is tacked on at the end of the score announcement. If my team is winning 5-3 in a doubles match, and I am the second server, I would say, “Five, Three, Two.” My team has five points, the opponents have three points, and I am the second person serving this turn.
RULE #100: Every Pickleball Team Needs A Fantastic Team Name
Okay, this isn’t exactly in the official USAP rule book. But it sure as hell should be!
There are hundreds of great names to choose from, and we made it easy with our very own list of pickleball team names.
Props to the teams that come up with original names, though!
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