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Pickleball Scoring 101: How to Keep Score in Pickleball

vintage pickleball scorecard

Having trouble keeping score when playing pickleball? Follow these simple instructions and you will be scoring like a pro in no time! Here’s how pickleball scoring works.

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If you are new to pickleball, the scoring system can be a bit confusing. In this article, we will explain how pickleball scoring works and help you keep track of the score during your next game!

Pickleball was first played in Washington state and in March of 2022 it was officially adopted as the major sport of the state. Pickleball has a lot of similarities with many other sports but it’s unique in its own way, including scoring.

Pickleball scoring is quite easy to understand just like ping pong but, you need to be ready and determined to learn it especially if you’re a beginner. Understanding how pickleball scoring works will help you learn the game faster.  So, let me take you through how pickleball scoring works.

I’m going to break down the rules into two, Singles and Doubles.

Pickleball Scoring for Singles

Pickleball scoring for singles is quite similar to that of doubles, except that for doubles there’s an additional player.

Only the Serving Side Scores Points

In Pickleball, only the serving side can earn points and the server earns points only when the opponent commits a fault or fails to return the ball back to the serving side. Also, if the serving side commits a fault no point is given and the serve goes to the receiver.

Odd and Even Score Determines the Service Side

The score of the server (odd or even) will determine the side the service will be made from. If the server has an even score, then the service will be made from the right side of the court and the opponent will be on the left side of the court.

Also, If the server has an odd score, then the service will be made from the left side of the court and the opponent will be on the right side of the court. The serve needs to be made diagonally from either side of the court. For Singles, each player has only one serve.

The Score is Announced With Two Numbers

Before a serve, the server must announce the score. In pickleball scoring for singles, the score is made up of two numbers, the first score representing the server score while the second score represents the receiver’s score.

First to Score 11 Points with a Two-Point Margin Wins

Pickleball games are played to 11 points and are usually won by a 2-point margin, in some cases the game may extend to 15 points.

Pickleball Scoring for Doubles

Pickleball doubles comprise two players on both sides of the court. The Pickleball scoring rules for singles also apply to scoring for doubles.

Doubles Score Includes Three Numbers

Pickleball scoring for doubles is made up of three numbers, the first number is the serving team’s score, the second number is the receiving team’s score and the third number is the server number for the serving team and it’s either one or two depending on who’s serving. The starting score is usually zero-zero-two (0-0-2).

Only the Serving Team Can Score

Just like singles, points are only scored by the serving side and the receiving side can’t score points.

Service Rules for Doubles

A serve is made diagonally from right to left and left to right, and the rally continues till the serving side commits a fault, then the serve is passed to the second player on the doubles team.

Players on the serving side switch from right to left and vice versa after a point is scored. They can only switch when a point is scored. The receiving side does not switch sides.

Each team can make two serves, one for each player but, the team that starts the game has only one serve. The serving team has to first serve from the right side of the court.

The first server plays until the team loses a rally. Then the second player on the team serves until the team loses a second rally. When this occurs the serve goes to the opposing team.

Scoring Rules Summary:

  • You can’t score on your opponent’s serve, the ball must be returned.
  • A point is only scored when the serving team wins the rally.
  • The score must be announced before serving.
  • The game is usually played to 11 points but can be extended to 15 points.
  • The winner is the first player or team to reach 11 points with a two-point margin.

I hope this article has helped you understand how pickleball scoring works. if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to answer them. 



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