Pickleball Scoring: How To Keep Score in Pickleball

Pickleball Scoring: How To Keep Score in Pickleball

Pickleball, a fast-growing sport with unique scoring mechanisms, can initially be quite tricky to understand. With three numbers comprising the score in doubles and two for singles games, the mechanics can leave newcomers scratching their heads.

This article will guide you through simple steps on how to keep track of the pickleball score while also explaining relevant terminologies and rules. Get ready; mastering pickleball scoring is just a few scrolls away!

Understanding Pickleball Scoring Basics

Scoring in pickleball may initially seem complicated, but with a bit of practice, it becomes straightforward. In doubles pickleball, the score comprises three numbers: the serving team’s score first, then the receiving team’s followed by the server number – either one or two depending on which player is serving.

This changes to only two numbers in singles games: starting with the server’s and then announcing receiver’s score.

The server always initiates a rally and is potentially able to get points. Conversely, if you’re not serving or part of the serving team (in doubles), you cannot earn points in that round.

Most games aim for 11 points while some tournament games might extend up to 15 or even 21-point matches. The rule of thumb is that scores can only increase when your side serves and wins a rally; this concept is known as ‘side-out’ scoring.

Uniquely, at game start in doubles play, only one partner on the serve-side gets an opportunity to serve before their opponents get possession back – we refer this scenario as having started at “0-0-2” rather than “0-0-1”, ensuring fair chances for both teams right from commencement! With time and practice, these essentials will become second nature making your focus enjoying your match entirely.

Scoring Terminology and Court Setup

In pickleball, the scoring terminology consists of three numbers. The first number represents the score of the serving team, then comes the score of the receiving team. The third digit is either a “1” or a “2”, indicating which server is currently in play on a double’s team.

For singles matches, each player only has one serve and so doesn’t need to call out this third number. Comprehending this format is crucial for keeping an accurate track of scores during games.

The setup of a pickleball court includes both even numbered (right-hand side) and odd numbered (left-hand side) areas from where players serve and receive. Each doubles match starts from the right-hand/even-numbered side with a score call-out such as 0-0-start; while singles game serves start from an even/right-hand side too.

Pickleball courts also have distinctive zones like ‘No Volley Zone’ or ‘Kitchen’, dictated by specific rules players must follow. Violations lead to faults changing possession to opponents – once again affecting scoring progressions which are inherently tied into its court setups and rules.

How to Keep Score in Singles and Doubles Matches

Learn the step-by-step process of keeping score in both singles and doubles pickleball matches, ensuring you never lose track of the game again.

Scoring for Doubles Matches

In doubles pickleball, the scoring system functions differently than in singles play. Here’s how it works:


  1. The team score comes with three numbers: the serving team’s score, the receiving team’s score, and the server number.
  2. Each game begins with a unique serve; only one member from the starting team gets to serve before it switches to their opponents.
  3. The serving team usually starts every game at 0-0-2 as indicated by the server number, which means they are on their second serve.
  4. After the initial serve, both members of each doubles team get an opportunity to serve and score points until they commit a fault.
  5. Second serves are allowed if a player commits a fault during their first service.
  6. Teams can use strategic moves such as stacking where partners stay on the same side of the court throughout the match, helping them gain an edge in scoring.
  7. A point is scored when your opponent faults or hits out of bounds.
  8. Player positioning plays a key role in doubles pickleball; players switch positions based on scores to maintain tactical advantages over opponents.
  9. Only the correct server – determined by even or odd scores – can legally make a shot from their assigned court side after bouncing once off their paddle.
  10. Incorrect positioning or shots from wrong servers result as faults leading to loss of service and attempt to score points.


Scoring for Singles Matches

Scoring in singles pickleball matches has its own set of rules and procedures. Here are the basic steps:


  1. Begin the game with zero points for both players.
  2. The first server announces his or her score as well as the opponent’s score.
  3. Continually confirm the score before each serve, ensuring that both players are ready to play.
  4. Add one point to the server’s score if they win a rally while serving.
  5. No points are awarded if a rally is won by the player receiving the ball; instead, it ends the opponent’s turn at serving (known as a “side-out”).
  6. Alternate service courts after each point won by server, starting from the right-hand court and switching to left-hand court after every scored point to mix up serves.
  7. Continue playing until one player scores 11 points; however this can vary in tournament settings.
  8. Adhere strictly to the “win by two” rule which states that play continues until there’s a two-point lead when players have tied scores beyond standard game limit, such as 10-10 in an 11-point match.
  9. Call out your score first then your opponent’s score when serving –– consistency is key to avoid confusion.


Serving Rules and Faults

Learn the rules of serving in pickleball and common faults to avoid during gameplay. Understanding these rules will help you improve your game and avoid penalties. Read on to find out more about serving in pickleball!

Rules of Serving

To understand the rules of serving in pickleball, keep the following in mind:


  • Each player or team takes turns serving the ball.
  • The serving team always starts on the right – hand side of the court.
  • The first serve goes to the right – hand side (even number) player and subsequent serves alternate between sides.
  • The server must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball underhand.
  • The serve must cross over the net and land within the diagonal box on the opposite side of the court.
  • If a serve hits the net but lands in the correct box, it is called a “let” and can be re – served without penalty.
  • If a serve does not land in the correct box or touches any part of the non – volley zone line, it is considered a fault.


Common Faults

Common faults in pickleball include hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds, allowing the ball to bounce twice on your side, and hitting the ball without a bounce in the non-volley zone.

Scoring Situations and Challenges

Learn about what is considered “in,” the double-bounce rule after service, and the importance of avoiding volleys in the “no volley zone.” Discover these scoring situations and challenges to enhance your pickleball game.

Keep reading for more!

What is Considered “In”

When playing pickleball, it’s important to know what is considered “in.” In pickleball, a shot is considered “in” if it lands on any part of the court boundary lines. This means that as long as the ball touches the line, it is still considered a good shot and in play.

It doesn’t matter if the ball hits just inside or right on the line; as long as it touches the line, it’s considered “in.” So make sure to pay attention to where your shots land and whether they are within the boundaries of the court.

The Double-Bounce Rule After Service

The Double-Bounce Rule is an important aspect of pickleball scoring and gameplay. It applies after the service, stating that each team must let the ball bounce once on their side before volleying it.

This rule only applies for the first shot from each side after the service. Its main purpose is to keep the game fair and prevent overly aggressive play. By requiring players to let the ball bounce, it allows for more balanced rallies and gives both teams an equal opportunity to make a play.

So, remember to follow this rule during your pickleball matches to ensure a fun and competitive game!

You Cannot Volley In the “No Volley Zone”

In pickleball, there is a designated area called the “No Volley Zone,” which is located seven feet from the net on both sides of the court. When you are in this zone, you cannot volley the ball, meaning you cannot hit it out of the air without letting it bounce first.

This rule is important because it prevents players from crowding the net and promotes fair play. If you volley while standing in the No Volley Zone, it will be considered a fault and your opponent will receive a point.

So remember to stay out of that zone when attempting to hit the ball!

Player Positioning for Doubles and Singles Pickleball

Player Positioning for Doubles Pickleball is crucial for a successful game, with each player having specific roles and positions on the court.

Player Positioning for Doubles Pickleball


  • The positioning of players in doubles pickleball is determined by the score of the game.
  • If the serving team has an even score, both players stand on the right – hand side of the court.
  • If the serving team has an odd score, one player stands on the left-hand side and one player stands on the right-hand side of the court.
  • The player standing on the left – hand side is responsible for most shots on their side of the court.
  • The player standing on the right – hand side is responsible for most shots down the middle and towards their partner’s side.
  • Both players should communicate and move together to cover as much area as possible and maintain control of the game.


Player Positioning for Singles Pickleball

In singles pickleball, player positioning is determined by the score of the game. Here are some important factors to consider:


  • At the start of the game, both players will stand on opposite sides of the court, just behind the baseline.
  • As soon as a serve is made, the server moves closer to the center of the court while the receiver stays in their original position.
  • If the serving player wins a rally and scores a point, they stay in their current position. However, if they lose the rally and give up a point, they switch positions with their opponent.
  • When the score reaches an even number (e.g., 0-0, 2-2), both players will be on their right-hand side of the court.
  • When the score reaches an odd number (e.g., 1-1, 3-3), both players will be on their left-hand side of the court.


Calling the Score in Pickleball

Calling the score in pickleball is an essential part of the game. It helps keep track of the current score and ensures that all players are aware of it. Here are some important points to remember when calling the score in pickleball:


  • Before each serve, it is customary to call out the score loudly and clearly. This helps avoid confusion and ensures that both teams are on the same page.
  • The server should always announce their team’s score first, followed by the opponent’s score. For example, if your team has 3 points and the opponent has 2 points, you would say “3 serving 2.”
  • In tournament play with a referee, it is the referee’s responsibility to call out and announce the score. Players should still be aware of the current score for their own reference.
  • The scoring system in pickleball has been updated by the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) to be 0-0-2 instead of 0-0-start. This means that both teams start with zero points at the beginning of each game or match.
  • Different courts and clubs may have their own variations of pickleball scoring rules. It is important to ask about local conventions to avoid any scoring mistakes during play.


What to Do If the Wrong Score Is Called

If the wrong score is called in a pickleball game, it’s important to address the issue promptly. Before the third shot of the rally is hit, players can correct the score without any penalty.

It is recommended to stop play if there’s a scoring discrepancy and request a score recall before returning the serve. This ensures that everyone is aware of and agrees on the current score.

In tournament play with a referee, it’s their responsibility to call out and maintain accurate scoring. Resolving scoring errors promptly helps to ensure fair play and avoid confusion during the game.

Remember: If you notice an incorrect score in pickleball, take immediate action by stopping play and requesting a score recall before returning the serve. Correcting these errors early on maintains fairness and allows all players to stay engaged in the game without confusion or disputes over scores.

Keeping Track of the Score in Pickleball

Learn the ABC Technique and other helpful tips for keeping track of the score in pickleball to ensure fair and accurate scoring throughout your matches.

Always Be Calling (ABC) Technique

The Always Be Calling (ABC) Technique is a method used to keep track of the score in pickleball. It’s also known as Always Be Calling and involves constantly announcing the score throughout the match.

This technique helps ensure that everyone on the court, including both teams and spectators, knows the current score. By using ABC, players can minimize confusion and prevent any disputes over the score.

It’s important to call out each point immediately after it’s scored to maintain accurate scoring in pickleball matches. With ABC, you can stay on top of the game and enjoy fair competition with your fellow players.

How Many Points Do You Need to Win in Pickleball?

In Pickleball, the standard game is typically played to 11 points, but you must win by a margin of two points.

The Standard Game

The standard game in pickleball is played to 11 points. This means that the first team to reach 11 points will win the game. However, it’s important to note that in order to win, a team must also be leading by at least two points.

So even if a team reaches 11 points, if their opponents have fewer than 9 points, the game will continue until one team has a lead of two or more points. It’s worth mentioning that while most games are played to 11 points, some tournament settings may play to 15 or even 21 points.

Win by Two Points Rule

Typically, in pickleball games, the win by two points rule applies. This means that a game must be won by a team or player with a lead of at least two points. For example, if the score is 10-9, the team or player needs to reach 12 points to win because they need to have a lead of two.

Most games in pickleball are played to 11 points, but in some tournament settings, games can be played to 15 or even 21 points. So remember, it’s not just about reaching the winning point first; you also need that extra cushion of two points to secure victory!

Scoring Tips for Beginners and Novice Players

Beginners and novice players can improve their scoring skills in pickleball by practicing scorekeeping etiquette and sportsmanship.

Scorekeeping Etiquette and Sportsmanship

Good sportsmanship and scorekeeping etiquette are crucial elements of pickleball. It’s important to communicate effectively with your opponent and maintain a respectful atmosphere on the court.

One way to demonstrate good sportsmanship is by always calling out the score before serving, ensuring that both teams are aware of where they stand in the game. Additionally, players should strive to give their opponents the benefit of the doubt when it comes to line calls, as trust and fairness play significant roles in maintaining a positive playing experience for everyone involved.


Understanding how to keep score in pickleball is essential for players of all levels. Whether you’re playing singles or doubles matches, knowing the scoring rules and terminology will ensure a fair and enjoyable game.

By following the correct server sequence and keeping track of the score, you can confidently navigate through any pickleball match. So grab your paddle and get ready to master the art of pickleball scoring!