Guide to Pickleball Score Keeping


Pickleball, a rapidly growing sport that ingeniously blends elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, has captivated players worldwide with its unique mix of strategy, skill, and fun. However, for beginners and even some intermediate players, understanding the scoring system can be a stumbling block. This article aims to demystify pickleball scoring, laying a solid foundation for both new and seasoned players to enjoy the game to its fullest.

Basic Scoring Rules

In pickleball, points can only be scored by the serving team when the opposing team fails to return the ball or commits a fault. This rule emphasizes the advantage of serving and encourages strategic play. Games are typically played to 11 points in casual play, but tournament games may be played to 15 or 21 points, with the requirement that the winning team must lead by at least 2 points.

Serving Rules Related to Scoring

Every game begins with a serve from the right-hand court. The server must serve diagonally across the net to the opponent's service court. A unique aspect of pickleball is the double-bounce rule: the ball must bounce once on each side before players are allowed to volley the ball (hit it in the air without letting it bounce). This rule adds a layer of strategy to the game's early points.

Scoring Format

The serve sequence and scoring format in pickleball are straightforward yet require attention to detail. Players must switch sides if a game to 11 points reaches 6 points. This rule ensures fairness and adds a tactical element to longer games.

Sequence of Play and Scoring

Only the serving team can score points. If the serving team wins a rally, they score a point, and the server continues to serve, moving to the opposite service court for the next serve. If the serving team commits a fault, the serve passes to the other team (in singles) or the serving team's second player (in doubles), known as a side-out.

Keeping Score

Scoring in pickleball involves three numbers: the serving team's score, the receiving team's score, and the server number (1 or 2 in doubles). The score is called out in this order before each serve. For example, a score call of "4-2-2" means the serving team has 4 points, the receiving team has 2 points, and the second player in the serving team is about to serve.

Scoring Strategies

Effective scoring in pickleball involves not just understanding the rules but also employing smart positioning and shot selection. In doubles, communication with your partner is key to setting up scoring opportunities and defending against the serving team's advances.

Common Scoring Confusions and How to Resolve Them

Disputes or confusion over the score should be resolved quickly to maintain the game's flow. If players cannot agree on the score, they can replay the point without penalty. Ensuring clarity in score calling before serving is essential to avoid these situations.

Practice Tips

Improving your scoring accuracy and strategy involves practice. Drills that simulate game situations, focusing on serve accuracy, and practicing return shots can all enhance your ability to score and win points more effectively.


Understanding and mastering pickleball scoring is crucial for players of all levels. With this guide, players can approach the game with confidence, knowing they have a solid grasp of scoring rules and strategies. Whether you're playing a friendly match or competing in a tournament, accurate scoring knowledge will enhance your enjoyment and performance in the exciting game of pickleball. So, grab your paddle, hit the court, and put your new scoring skills into action!

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