Can You Play Pickleball One On One?

Can You Play Pickleball One On One?

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Yes, Singles Pickleball Is A Fun Option With Modified Rules!

Pickleball, the popular racquet sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, is most commonly played as doubles. However, you can certainly play pickleball one on one in a singles match.

Singles pickleball has slightly modified rules compared to doubles and requires different strategies and skills. Overall though, a one on one pickleball game is a great way to improve your skills and get an intense workout.


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What Are The Rules For Singles Pickleball?

The basic rules of pickleball still apply in a singles match. However, there are a few key differences:

Serving Rules

  • In singles, the server must serve from the right side of the court when their score is even and from the left when their score is odd. This is the opposite of doubles rules.
  • Only one serve attempt is allowed (except the first service sequence). In doubles, teams get two chances to make a legal serve.


  • Games are played to 11 points, win by 2.
  • Points can only be scored by the serving side. In doubles, points are scored no matter which side wins the rally.

Court Positioning

  • No volley zone rules don’t apply, so you can volley the ball from anywhere on the court.
  • You must let the ball bounce once before hitting a return. In doubles, you can volley immediately.
  • The non-volley zone is outlined but doesn’t come into play.

Other Rules

  • All other basic rules like double bounces, carries, fault serves, etc. are enforced.

So in summary, singles pickleball is basically the same sport but adjusted for a 1 vs 1 game. The unique serving sequence and scoring system make for a fun, fast-paced matchup!

What Are Good Singles Pickleball Strategies?

When you don’t have a partner, success in singles pickleball depends more on your individual skills. Here are some key strategies to practice:

Consistent Returns

  • Keeping the ball in play is critical. Work on control and reducing errors.
  • Move quickly to cover the whole court and be in position to make solid returns.

Angles and Placement

  • Aim to hit sharp cross-court angles to move your opponent side to side.
  • Drop shots down the line can be effective to catch them out of position.
  • Mix up direction, depth, height and spin on returns.

Attacking Weak Returns

  • Move forward quickly to attack soft returns with volleys or overheads.
  • Look for chances to move in and put away a slam down the line.
  • If you get a high bouncing return, pound an overhead.

Fitness and Footwork

  • Excellent footwork and speed are essential to cover the court by yourself.
  • Work on your endurance. Long rallies are common in singles matches.

Mastering these nuanced singles strategies along with solid fundamentals like serving, volleys and overheads will help you control the court!

What Are The Benefits Of Singles Pickleball?

Playing singles pickleball offers some nice advantages as a way to improve your skills:

  • You get more opportunities to hit the ball since you have to cover the whole court. This can quickly improve conditioning and reactions.
  • You can work on technique without worrying about a partner. No one else to blame for errors!
  • Reading shots, planning moves ahead and court positioning is critical in singles, enhancing your strategic abilities.
  • You’ll improve essential skills like serves, returns, volleys, overheads and dinks which transfer over to doubles play.
  • Singles is a faster paced game with longer rallies typically, providing a demanding cardio workout.
  • Playing styles like aggressiveness on volleys and drop shots can be practiced.
  • You get more individual attention during lessons/coaching in a 1 vs 1 format.

In short, singles pickleball accelerates skill development and is ideal cross-training for doubles play. The workout and mental challenges will quickly elevate your game!

Who Typically Plays Singles Pickleball?

Here are some of the most common situations where pickleball players enjoy competing in singles:

  • Casual games at the park or driveway when you only have 1 friend to play with. Grab a paddle and enjoy some 1 on 1!
  • Singles “grudge matches” between rivals or players of similar skill level looking for a competitive challenge.
  • Tournament events specifically designated for singles play. Less common than doubles but growing.
  • Warm up drills or practice sessions to work on skills before switching to doubles.
  • Lessons/training to get individualized feedback from a coach.
  • Solo practice against a backboard or ball machine to sharpen reflexes.
  • Young/new players first learning the game often start with 1 on 1 before adding a partner. Build confidence first!

So whether you’re just looking for a casual game, or want to work on competitive singles skills, giving the one-on-one format a try adds some enjoyable variety to your pickleball routine.

What Are Some Pickleball Singles Training Tips?

Here are some useful tips to help improve your skills for singles pickleball success:

Master Serving Consistency

  • Practice accurate serves to the corners which pull the returner wide.
  • Toss the ball higher on windy days for better control.
  • Vary placement but focus on getting it in consistently.

Improve Return Reactions

  • Set up a ball machine or do solo drills against a wall to sharpen reflexes.
  • Focus on solid blocking returns directly back to center court.
  • Work on quick reset steps and sharp direction changes.

Enhance Volley Skills

  • React rapidly to volley mid-court balls dropping into the non-volley zone.
  • Concentrate on quick hand-eye coordination and keeping volleys low.
  • Volley against a wall working on angled shots cross-court.

Build Endurance

  • Expect long rallies so train aerobically with sprints, jogging or cycling.
  • Take shorter rest breaks during training to mimic singles play patterns.
  • Strengthen legs with squats and lunges – you’ll need the stamina.

Analyze Your Opponent

  • Notice opponent weaknesses like backhand or overhead.
  • Identify if they struggle with spin or pace.
  • Attack patterns in their serve location.

With focused training on these key areas, your singles pickleball skills are sure to dramatically improve!

How Do You Score and Win Singles Pickleball Matches?

Scoring in singles pickleball has some important differences from doubles play:

  • Games are played to 11 points, win by 2.
  • Only the serving side can score points.
  • Players switch sides after each game.
  • The server must alternate serving from right and left side based on even/odd score.
  • Let serves are not played over – the serve is a fault.

So during a singles match, the server will try to win points with aces or by forcing weak returns. The receiver needs to make solid returns to stay in the rally and have a chance to score.

Players change ends after each game, and matches are often best 2 out of 3 games. To win a singles pickleball match, a player must win two games by being the first to reach 11 points while leading by at least 2.

5 Keys To Winning At Singles Pickleball

Success in singles pickleball depends heavily on mastering key techniques and strategies. Here are 5 vital tips to up your game:

  1. Consistent Serves: Avoid double faults and get your serve in deep to start points strong. Vary placement to keep your opponent guessing.
  2. Quick Reflexes: Explosive footwork, speed and sharp reactions allow you to cover the whole court. Practice agility drills.
  3. Controlled Shots: Hitting down the middle and keeping returns low neutralize your opponent’s attack options. Focus on minimizing errors.
  4. Smart Shot Selection: Mix up spins, heights, pace and placement rather than repeating patterns. Execute drop shots and lobs at the right times.
  5. Fitness: Develop stamina, strength and fast footwork so you can endure long rallies and quick bursts. Train for the unique fitness demands of singles play.

Mastering these pickleball skills and tactics elevates your singles game to a champion’s level!

What Are The Best Paddles For Singles Pickleball?

Choosing a paddle designed for control and quick reactions helps execution in a singles match. Here are top picks ideal for one-on-one pickleball:

  • Selkirk Amped S2: Ultra-lightweight at 6.8oz for maneuverability with excellent touch and control. Polymer core adds stability.
  • Franklin X-40: Balance of power and control with responsive carbon fiber face to attack short balls. Comfortable ergonomic grip.
  • Engage Pursuit: Graphite face generates spin and is highly responsive on volleys. Weighs just 7.6oz making it easy to react quickly.
  • Onix Graphite Z5: Iconic paddle known for great balance and control. Middling weight suits all-around singles play. Nomex core for stability and touch.
  • Gamma Micron: Composite surface offers excellent control to place returns. Low 7.6oz weight enhances quickness. Polymer core adds power.

For singles pickleball, prioritize control and quick handling over pure power. Lighter paddles in the 7.3-7.8oz range with polymer or Nomex cores work best to move and react at high speeds covering the entire court. The right paddle improves flexibility on shot selections!

Singles Pickleball Tournament Play and Resources

As pickleball’s popularity soars, an increasing number of tournaments are offering singles divisions for competitive players looking to test their skills.

Some notable singles events include:

  • Huntsman World Senior Games – St. George, Utah
  • USA Pickleball National Singles Championships – Naples, Florida
  • Canadian National Pickleball Championships – Regina, Saskatchewan

Don’t be intimidated to sign up! Singles brackets are divided by skill level and age. Match play against new challengers will rapidly improve your game.

Check with your local pickleball club or regional USA Pickleball Association chapter to find upcoming singles tournaments in your area.

For training resources, Pickleball University offers an excellent singles play instructional video breaking down key strategies and skills.

Conclusion: Embrace the Challenge of Singles Pickleball

In summary, playing singles pickleball one-on-one is an exciting variant of the game requiring focus, fitness and solid fundamental skills. The non-stop action forces you to cover the entire court and provides an outstanding workout. While doubles remains the most popular format, singles is a great training tool to address holes in your game.

Competing in singles tournaments amps up the challenge as you battle head-to-head with no partner for support. For recreational and competitive players alike, incorporating more singles play adds fun variety and elevates your pickleball expertise. The next time you head to the pickleball courts, grab a partner and take turns playing a few friendly but competitive games of one-on-one. You might find the solo challenge to be a breath of fresh air that takes your skills up a notch!

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