You’ve been practicing pickleball casually, and now you think you’re ready to start playing for competitive points. You and your partner are starting as the receiving team, so you get yourself in position, prepare for the ball, and wait for the serve.
But then the serving player shouts out “0-0-2” and you find yourself thinking: what?
0-0-2 doesn’t mean that the serving team has already awarded themselves two points. Instead, it’s a way to indicate who is serving in relation to the game. Every doubles pickleball match starts with 0-0-2, but both teams are starting on level points.
It can be a little confusing, particularly for a new pickleball player. The third number in the score refers to the current server and it alternates between 1 and 2 throughout the game.
Starting with 2 is intended to reduce the advantage of the serving team.
Want to know more? In this guide, we’ll explore exactly what 0-0-2 means in pickleball, and why every doubles match starts with this scoreline.
What Does 002 Mean In Pickleball?
Every doubles pickleball match should start with the serving player shouting out 0-0-2. This indicates the current score and the person currently serving. 0-0-2 does not mean that one team already has two points!
Zero – zero indicates the score at the start of the match. In pickleball, a team can earn one point at a time, but only the serving team can score.
Most pickleball matches are played to a score of 11, but the winning team must have a two-point lead. So, the numbers can keep on increasing!
The first number is the score of the serving team. When they earn a point, the score becomes 1-0-2.
The second number is the score of the receiving team. The serving team will always list their score first, followed by the receiver score, followed by the server number.
The server number (which is the 2 in 0-0-2) alternates between 1 and 2. This indicates which member of the team is currently serving. During the game, server 1 starts, switching to server 2 when the team makes a fault.
If they make another fault, the other team will be awarded service. Server 1 for the opposing team will start, and the game continues in the same way.
The only time server 1 doesn’t start is with the very first serve. When the scores are at 0, server 2 starts.
Let’s see how this would play out in a match. The score would start as 0-0-2. The serving team scores, and shouts out 1-0-2. They make a fault on the next rally, and the serve moves to the other team.
They then shout 0-1-1. The new serving team makes a fault, the server switches, and they shout 0-1-2.
Why Does Pickleball Start With The Second Server?
In doubles pickleball, a team maintains the service until they’ve lost two rallies. At this point, the serve switches to the other team. This process is known as side out.
Let’s break it down. Each doubles team has two players: server #1 and server #2. Server #1 begins on the right side of the court. If they score a point, they switch sides and continue serving. This happens until they lose a rally.
When the serving team loses a rally, server #2 takes the serve. The game continues as usual, but when the serving team loses another rally, we move to side out. The other team takes the serve, following the same rules.
Only a serving team can score a point. When the serving team wins a rally, they get a point. But when a serving team loses a rally, the opposing team doesn’t score a point. Instead, the game moves closer to side out.
So, if the serving team was completely fault-free, they could technically win the entire game without the other team getting a chance to serve.
This scenario would be more likely to happen if the first serving team needed to make two faults to lose the serve. By starting the game with the second server, the serving team only needs to lose one rally or make one fault for side out to be called.
This prevents them from gaining an unfair advantage.
There is still a slight advantage to serving first, but a savvy receiving team can help limit this with careful positioning and smart play.
Why Do Pickleball Players Include The Server Number In The Score?
By noting who is serving the ball every time a rally finishes, it’s easier to keep track of how close the teams are to side out.
At the start of the match, it might seem easy to keep track of exactly who should be serving and when faults have occurred. But after several long, closely fought rallies, you can get confused as to who should currently have the ball.
Shouting out the server number prevents one team from having the serve longer than they should.
What Does 002 Mean In Singles Pickleball?
0-0-2 is used to indicate which member of the team is currently serving, so it isn’t used in single pickleball. When a server loses a rally in singles pickleball, (see also: What Is A Rally In Pickleball?)the serve switches to the other player.
As there’s only one member of the team and the serve switches back and forth, there’s no need to shout out any additional numbers! So, if you hear someone say 0-0-2 in singles pickleball, they’ve made a mistake!
Do Doubles Players Keep Their Service Number?
In pickleball, the first and second server can change throughout the game. The first server is the player on the right side when the serve is returned. This might not be the same player who acted as server #1 the last time the team had the serve!
However, it’s helpful to remember exactly which player started the game on the right side of the court. This makes it easier to keep track of the score.
The person who started on the right should always be on the right when their team has an even number score. When they’re on the left, their score should be an odd number.
What Does 0-0-Start Mean In Pickleball?
0-0-Start is essentially another way of saying 0-0-2, and experienced pickleball players will often shout this to start the match. Because you all know that this is the second server, there’s no need to say the number!
However, as the game progresses, the server will incorporate their server number into the score, to help keep track. As the server, it’s your responsibility to shout out the score. If you don’t it can be considered a fault, and you risk losing your serve.
Pickleball scoring can seem confusing when you have to read all about it, so the best way to learn the ins and outs is to start playing! When you actually see the rules in action, it’s much easier to keep track of the numbers.
The key takeaway from this guide is that the 2 in 0-0-2 is not a score. It’s simply a way of keeping track of the server. To limit the advantage for the first team serving, they start with the second server.
This means they can only make one fault before side out. From then on, the server number alternates between #1 and #2, depending on who is serving.