Pickleball has a relatively simple scoring system: only the serving team can score, and each point that is won counts as one. If the receiving team wins a point, they win the right to serve. Each game is played to eleven, and the winner must win by two. Scoring is called out slightly differently for singles and doubles.
Rules of pickleball scoring
The scoring system in pickleball is intrinsically linked to which team is serving, and where they are positioned on the court. Though this might sound complicated at first, it helps you to keep track of the pickleball scoring rules.
The following rules comply with the USA Pickleball (USAPA) scoring system and serving rules.
At the start of the game, both teams (or players in singles play) have zero points. Before you begin your game of pickleball, you must decide which team serves first.
The serving team always starts serving from the right side of the court (this is called the even side, because the serving team’s score will always be an even number when serving from this position). If you are playing doubles, you must decide which of you is the first server.
The serve must go diagonally into the receiving team’s right side of the court.
A point is won when one side commits a fault. Usually this happens by hitting the ball out of the pickleball court (outside of the sidelines and baseline) or into the net. A fault can also occur when a player makes an error like stepping into the non-volley zone illegally.
If the serving team/the person serving wins the point, they switch sides to the left side and serve from there (again, diagonally across the court). The left side of the court is known as the odd side, as the serving team’s score will always be odd if you are serving from there.
If doubles, the second server takes over, and the process repeats. If you are playing singles, the receiving side becomes the serving side and may now try and score points.
When the serve switches from one side to the other, this is known as a “side out.”
The first team or player to win eleven points wins the game, as long as they win by two points.
There is no “highest score” in pickleball. A game goes on for as long as it takes for one side to get two clear points ahead.
Calling the score while playing
Calling the score in pickleball changes depending on whether you play singles or doubles. In singles, it consists of two numbers. In doubles, it consists of three.
When playing singles, calling the score takes the following format:
[SERVER’S SCORE – RECEIVER’S SCORE]
If the server had scored four points, while the current receiver had scored five, the score would be called as [FOUR – FIVE]
When calling the score in doubles, a third number is added to the call. This is the server number.
In doubles, the score calling system looks like this:
[SERVING TEAM’S SCORE – RECEIVING TEAM’S SCORE – SERVER NUMBER]
- The serving team has scored nine points
- The serving team is on their second server
- The receiving team has three points
In this case, the score would be called as:
[NINE – THREE – TWO]
Similarities to other sports
Pickleball is similar to most racquet sports in that it is scored in points. It follows the same numerical system as table tennis, badminton, and volleyball: each point is worth one point, and the first to a certain number wins.
In pickleball, only the serving team can win points. This is similar to racquetball and squash, among others, and is also a common alternative scoring method in badminton and ping pong.
Tennis is an outlier among racket sports. Its scoring system goes:
[LOVE – FIFTEEN – THIRTY – FORTY – GAME].
Each set is played as the first to six games, and a match is the best of three or five sets.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?