Pickleball is a fun paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. The game is played with a whiffle ball and composite or wooden paddles on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net.
One aspect that makes pickleball unique is its scoring system. The rules for scoring points in pickleball differ between singles and doubles matches. Understanding the pickleball scoring format is key to keeping track of the game.
So what are the official rules for “scoring” in pickleball?
- How Does Scoring Work in Singles Pickleball Matches?
- The Score is Called as Server’s Score then Receiver’s Score
- Only the Serving Team Can Score Points
- Each Side Only Gets One Serve
- The Server’s Position Changes Based on Odd or Even Score
- The Receiver Lines Up Based on the Server’s Position
- Games Are Usually Played to 11 Points, Win by 2
- Other Singles Scoring Variations Exist
- What Are the Rules for Scoring Points in Doubles Pickleball?
- Why Is Verbal Scoring Communication So Important in Pickleball?
- How Do Pickleball Scoring Rules Differ from Tennis Scoring?
- What Are Some Pickleball Variations That Use Different Scoring Formats?
- Conclusion: Clear Communication of Scoring is Key in Pickleball
How Does Scoring Work in Singles Pickleball Matches?
For singles pickleball matches, the scoring system is relatively simple. Here are the key rules for scoring in singles pickleball:
The Score is Called as Server’s Score then Receiver’s Score
- The score is made up of two numbers. The first number called is the score of the player who is serving. The second number is the score of the player receiving the serve.
Only the Serving Team Can Score Points
- Unlike some other racquet sports, only the team or player serving can score points in pickleball. The receiving team must win back the serve to score.
Each Side Only Gets One Serve
- In singles, both players get just one serve each before switching sides. This contrasts with sports like tennis where players get two serves.
The Server’s Position Changes Based on Odd or Even Score
- The server serves from the right side when their score is even (0, 2, 4, etc). When their score is odd, they serve from the left side.
The Receiver Lines Up Based on the Server’s Position
- The receiver positions themselves diagonally opposite from the server’s position. So they line up on the left side when the server’s score is even, and vice versa.
Games Are Usually Played to 11 Points, Win by 2
- The standard singles pickleball format is to play until one player reaches 11 points and has a lead of at least 2 points. So the winning score is often 11-9.
Other Singles Scoring Variations Exist
- Shorter singles games can be played to 7 or 15 points. And different tournaments may modify the “win by 2” rule. But 11 points, win by 2, is the standard.
By calling out the server’s score first, then receiver’s score each time, players can keep track of the singles pickleball action. The server alternating sides and receiver lining up diagonally facilitates the flow and scoring.
What Are the Rules for Scoring Points in Doubles Pickleball?
Doubles pickleball introduces a few more variables into the scoring system. Here’s how scoring works in doubles pickleball matches:
The Score Includes Both Teams’ Points and the Serving Player’s Number
- The score is called out as three numbers – the serving team’s score, the receiving team’s score, and the serving player’s number (1 or 2).
The Player on the Right Serves First
- At the start of each side’s service turn, the player on the right side serves first. This is the #1 server.
Servers Alternate Sides After Each Point
- After each point, the server switches sides. So if Player 1 served from the right, Player 2 would then serve from the left. This continues until a rally is lost.
The Serve Alternates Between Diagonal Courts
- The first serve of each service turn goes diagonally to the opponent’s right service court. After each point, it alternates to the diagonal left court.
Games Are Usually Played to 11 Points, Win by 2
- Like singles, standard doubles rules are to play to 11 points, win by 2. So the winning score is often 11-9.
Other Doubles Variations Exist
- Shortened games to 7 or 15 points are common. And the “win by 2” rule can be modified. But 11 points, win by 2, is the standard.
Calling out the server number helps distinguish which player scored each point. The alternating service courts and sides keep the rally flowing smoothly.
Why Is Verbal Scoring Communication So Important in Pickleball?
Clear verbal communication of the pickleball score is crucial for several reasons:
There May Not Be a Visible Scoreboard
- Many smaller pickleball venues don’t have scoreboards. Players need to call out scores to keep track.
The Score Changes Frequently
- With quick rallies and points, the score can change often. Verbally confirming each point ensures no confusion.
It Allows Players to Coordinate Positions
- Stating the score tells players where to serve from and line up each time.
It Creates an Official Record
- Calling the score out loud leaves no question about disagreements if a match is closely contested.
It’s an Established Etiquette & Rule
- Verbally announcing the score is considered proper pickleball etiquette and part of official tournament rules.
So make sure to project your voice and call out the score clearly and frequently when playing pickleball. It keeps the game fair and moving smoothly.
How Do Pickleball Scoring Rules Differ from Tennis Scoring?
Pickleball takes its cue from tennis on several gameplay mechanics, including serving and volleying. However, the sports diverge when it comes to their scoring systems.
Here are some key differences between tennis scoring and pickleball scoring rules:
Pickleball Uses Regular Numerals
- Tennis scoring is based on the unique “15-30-40” numbering sequence. Pickleball just uses standard numbers – 0, 1, 2, 3, etc.
Tennis Players Get Two Serves
- In tennis, players get two chances to execute a successful serve. Pickleball players only get one serve attempt before switching sides.
Tennis Doesn’t Identify Individual Server Numbers
- In doubles tennis, only the team’s total points are called out. Pickleball scoring specifies which player (1 or 2) scored each point.
Tennis Sets Continue Until Tiebreaker or Win by 2 Games
- Tennis sets continue indefinitely until one player wins 6+ games with a 2-game lead. Pickleball games stop at 11 points (win by 2).
Tennis Games Use Alternate, Side-by-Side Serving
- In tennis doubles, partners take turns serving from the same side. In pickleball, servers alternate sides and courts.
The simpler numbering and defined game lengths of pickleball scoring make it easier for new players to learn. It facilitates quick games and steady action.
What Are Some Pickleball Variations That Use Different Scoring Formats?
While the standard 11-point, win-by-2 system is most common, there are some fun pickleball variations that alter the normal scoring format:
Short Court Pickleball
- On smaller courts, games may be played to 7 or 9 points instead of 11.
- Each side only gets one serve attempt total per service round, rather than alternating serves.
- Games are played to a very low number, like 5 points, to emphasize rapid quick rallies.
- No “win by 2” requirement – the first to 11 points wins, no matter the margin.
- One player or team starts with a negative score and must dig out of the hole.
- Points are only scored on the second bounce. Slower scoring.
Team Relay Pickleball
- Teammates alternate shots during rallies rather than taking full turns.
Mixing up the scoring format helps add variety once players grasp the standard rules. The fun adaptations keep the game exciting!
Conclusion: Clear Communication of Scoring is Key in Pickleball
Understanding the unique pickleball scoring system is an important part of mastering the game. The alternating service positions, defined service rounds, two-number score call-outs in singles, and three-number score announcement in doubles make pickleball scoring unique.
Verbal communication of each point scored and the current game state is vital. So whether you’re playing singles or doubles, be sure to call out the score frequently and clearly every time the ball is in play. Paying attention to the scoring format will help you better strategize your game, coordinate with your partner, and avoid scoring conflicts.
Knowing the standard rules for scoring and practicing good scorekeeping habits will ensure you maximize the fun and excitement pickleball has to offer. So grab your paddle, find an open court, and call out those scores loud and clear as you rally your way to the win!