How Is Pickleball Scored? (What You Need To Know)

Wondering how pickleball is scored? Whether you’ve just recently taken up pickleball or you’ve been playing for a little while, we’re sure that you might agree that, for the most part, the rules of pickleball are generally quite straightforward and easy to grasp. 

Still, despite the fact that pickleball is a game with fun (see also: 17 Fun Facts About Pickleball)at the forefront, the rules  can certainly be a little difficult to get your head around – especially if you just so happen to be a beginner to the sport. This is where we come in to lend a helping hand.

In this guide, we are going to be talking you through how pickleball is scored.

We’ll be covering all aspects of scoring in pickleball, including the basics of how this game is scored,  the difference between singles and doubles, as well as how to call the score, too. Whenever you’re ready, read on!

The Basic Rules of Pickleball Scoring

Before we jump any further, we first think that it would be helpful to provide you with a basic breakdown of the way that pickleball is scored.  Here is a super quick breakdown of the general rules of pickleball in terms of scoring:

  • Points can only be scored by the serving side.
  • You will win a point if the defending side does not return the ball, does not allow the serve ball to bounce, gets hit by the ball, volleys in the non-volley zones or hits the ball out of bounds.
  • In order to win a game, one side will need to get at least 11 points with a 2 point lead. Due to this, it is important to keep in mind that the minimum winning points amount is 11, but this can raise much higher depending on that 2 point lead.

As a side note, it is also important to keep in mind that the points that are scored in a pickleball game are only given when a team is serving and/or when technical fouls (that we have outlined to you above) have been called against the opposing team and approved  by the referee. This goes for both doubles pickleball games as well as the singles pickleball games. 

In addition to this, in order to score a point on the pickleball court as the serving team ,it is required that the serving team wins a rally(see also: What Is A Rally In Pickleball?).

As for winning the game? You’re going to need to make sure that you are the first team to score the winning point.

As we have just mentioned above, the majority of pickleball games will be played to 11 points with a clear win by 2, although in certain situations (such as during a tournament game) the amount of points played might be raised to 15 or 21 points with a win by 2 clear points of the other side.

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s go ahead and move on to the following sections, where we will be discussing the difference in scoring in doubles games, and single games. Just keep on scrolling!

Scoring Rules For Singles Pickleball

Now that we have covered the basic rules of pickleball scoring, we are now going to be taking a closer look at the way that singles pickleball is scored.

When it comes to singles pickleball, the score is only made up of just a two number structure, an example being 0-0.

Going by this scoring structure, it is important to note that the first number essentially represents the server’s score, while the second number will always represent the receiver’s score. 

It is important to keep in mind that there is not a third number because, unlike in doubles, there is only ever  going to be one server per side.

Due to this, the third number is not needed, as there is no requirement to indicate to the audience, referee and players which server is on. 

Just to clarify this  scoring structure a little more, let’s say that a singles game is currently on a score of 9-7.

This will mean that the server is on a score of 9, while the receiver is currently on a score of 7. Simple, enough right?

Now that we’ve covered the rules of scoring when it comes to single pickleball games, let’s go ahead and take a look at how doubles games are scored in pickleball. 

Scoring Rules For Doubles Pickleball

Scoring Rules For Singles Pickleball

When it  doubles pickleball, the score is essentially made up of three numbers, an example of this being: 0-1-2.

Going by that scoring structure, the first number will represent the serving term’s score, the second number will represent the receiving team’s score, while the third number will re[resent the server number.

Keep in mind that the third number will always either be server number 1 or server number 2. 

Just to clarify that a little more, let’s say that a double pickleball score is 9-7-1.

This would then mean that the serving team currently has 9 points, the receiving team has 7 points and the serving team is currently on server #1.

As you can see, unlike in singles pickleball games, there is a need for a third number in order to indicate which server is currently on.

Rules For Calling The Score In Pickleball

Another important part of the scoring system in pickleball is something known as “calling the ball”.

When it comes to calling the ball in pickleball, it is very important that a score in any game of pickleball (regardless of level or whether it is doubles or singles) is not called until both the server and the receiver are in their correct position.

Along with this, all players in the game should also be on the pickleball court and ready to commence with the game.

However, while this is the ideal, keep in mind that in some instances the score can be called if it seems as though one of the players is purposely holding up the game and/or stalling the other players.

If you are planning to begin playing pickleball and want to prevent getting the score called before you are ready, then you should make sure that you indicate to the serving or receiving team that you are not yet ready for the score to be called. 

In the majority of instances, indicating that you are not ready for the score to be called is totally acceptable.

However, keep in mind that if you are purposefully trying to slow down the game or throw other players out of their rhythm, then you might be ignored and the score might be called on grounds of disruptive behavior. 

The Bottom Line

There we have it! We’ve made it to the end of the article.

Now that you have taken the time to read through this guide, we hope that we have been able to give you a much better understanding of how the game of pickleball is scored, including across both singles pickleball games as well as doubles pickleball games.

Thanks for reading, and happy playing!

Michael Walter
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