me you who

How Scoring Works in Pickleball: The Basics of Pickleball Scoring

Pickleball Scoring: Me, You , Who??

Scoring in pickleball is relatively simple. The game is typically played to 11 points and a team must win by at least 2 points. If the serving team wins a rally, they earn a point. When a team reaches 10 points, they are said to be “serving for the game.” If the serving team wins the rally, they win the game. If the receiving team wins the rally, the score goes back to 10-10 and the game continues.

Scoring on the Serve

One of the most challenging parts of pickleball is the serve. The serve is critical in the game, as it sets the tone for the rally and can be the key to winning a point. The server must hit the ball diagonally across the court and let the ball bounce before hitting it.  A common challenge for new players is to master the correct technique for serving, as it’s important to get the ball over the net and in the service court. With mastery, perfecting your technique can lead to scoring on the serve. If you hit at an angle that is difficult to return, then you have a chance of upping your score. 

Keeping Score: Me, You, Who

Another important rule of pickleball scoring to keep in mind is that the server must call out the score before serving. This is to ensure that both teams are aware of the score at all times and to prevent disputes or confusion. The server should call out the score in a clear and loud voice, such as “eight-four” if the score is 8-4 in favor of the serving team. This rule ensures that both teams know the score and can play accordingly, it also helps to keep the game flowing smoothly. In addition to the score, the server should also announce which player on the team is serving for doubles play.  So what the server calls out is: serving team score, receiving team score, and player serving. (My score, your score, who’s serving).  For example if the score is 8-4 and the server is the first player in the round, they would call our “eight-four-one”.

Kitchen's have rules

Another challenging aspect of pickleball is the “kitchen” rule, which states that players can’t hit the ball without it first bouncing on their side of the court within 7 feet of the net on both sides. This rule is in place to prevent players from volleying the ball too close to the net, and it makes the game more challenging, as players have to be more strategic with their shots and pay attention to where they hit the ball.

The Start is Special

At the start of the game, the player on the right side (even court) serves to the diagonally opposite court. If a point is scored, the server moves to the left side (odd court) and serves to the diagonally opposite court.  Players on the serving side continue to move from the right to left or left to right each time a point is scored.  Players on the serving team do not alternate sides unless a point is scored. The receiving side never alternates sides.
The first server continues to serve until the serving team loses a rally by committing a fault; then the serve passes to the second server on the team. However, the first round is different. The first team to serve in the game only gets one player to serve.  Once they lose a rally it will pass to the other team instead of to the second player. This minimizes the advantage of being the first team to serve in the game. Since the serve goes to the other side when that player loses the serve, that player is designated as the second server. (Yes, you read that right, the first player is the second player. These quirks are why we love the game.) Therefore, at the start of the game, the score should be called, “0-0-2.” The “2” indicates the second server and means that the serve goes to the other side when the serve is lost.

Summary of the Pickleball Scoring Rules

  • Game is played to 11 points
  • A team must win by 2 points
  • In doubles play:
    • If the server is the first player and loses the rally, the serve goes to the other side.  Remember, the first player is the second player 😉
    • If the server wins the rally, the team scores a point and the server switches sides.  The receiving team does not switch sides.
  • On the serve, the ball must bounce within the kitchen. On the serve return the ball must also bounce before the player can return it.  
  • After the first two volleys, players may hit the ball without bouncing but cannot step in the kitchen.  Basically, stay out of the kitchen. 

In conclusion, scoring in pickleball is simple, but the most challenging part of the game is mastering the serve and adapting to the “kitchen” rule, as well as the overall fast-paced nature of the game which requires quick reflexes, good hand-eye coordination, and the ability to anticipate your opponent’s shots.

Sign Up for what is Next & New from Pickleball Fever and Momus Sportswear.

Pickleball Tank Tops

2 thoughts on “How Scoring Works in Pickleball: The Basics of Pickleball Scoring”

  1. Pingback: How to play singles pickleball - Pickleball Singles Rules | Pickleball Fever | MOMUS

  2. Pingback: The Pickleball Serve: Serving Rules of Pickleball | Pickleball Fever | MOMUS

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart