Beginner’s Guide to Pickleball: How To Score Points

Back in 1965, Pickleball was born out of combining the most well-known racquet-based sports. Since then, it has grown slowly but surely in popularity. A Pickleball court is a familiar sight. It looks almost exactly like a badminton court, except with the net being replaced by one closer to tennis. But instead of netted racquets, you get paddles for bouncing the ball from end to end. Pickleball is now widely played in Canada, the US, the UK, and France.

Ever since the United States Amateur Pickleball Association published the first official rulebook in 1984, Pickleball has become a sport for everyone to learn and master. That same year, a proper Pickleball paddle was engineered.

The origin of the sport’s name is an amusing one. Joel Richard, one of the dads who began Pickleball, had a dog that often brought the ball out of the court. The dog’s name was Pickle. An alternative story was that the wife of Joel Pritchard started calling it that. It’s up to you whose story you’d like to believe.

But what exactly is this sport’s scoring system? As a combination of three sports, it’s worth reading about how the game works. We’ve put together a quick beginner’s guide on how to score points in Pickleball.

The Basic Rules of Pickleball

  • There are five general rules to remember when it comes to Pickleball.

    1. You may play the sport with a partner or by yourself. These are called Doubles and Singles, respectively.
    2. The minimum number of points to win a game of Pickleball is 11 points. However, a difference of 2 points must be present to win.
    3. Serves in Pickleball can only be done in an upward swinging motion. Balls have to be served from behind the court baseline.
    4. On a serve, the ball must first bounce on your side and then on the other side in the box diagonal to yours. The following returns do not require bounces.
    5. On either side of the Pickleball net is a zone that is 7 feet wide. If you hit the ball while in that zone, it should have bounced beforehand.

The Pickleball Scoring System

Scoring in Pickleball can get a bit confusing, so we’ll do our best to break it down for you properly. As we’ve mentioned, Pickleball can be played either by solo players or teams of two. For the most part, scoring in Singles and Doubles are the same. But as always, there are a few exceptions.

However, let’s first review the specifications of a Pickleball court. The entire space is 20 feet by 44 feet. The No-Volley zone on either side is 7 feet wide. Because of the centerline, each side of the court is divided into two service areas that are 10 feet wide.

Scoring for Pickleball Doubles

A Doubles game of Pickleball involves four players in total, with two players on either side of the net. Each player gets one 10-foot wide service area.

Points in each round can only be obtained by the team that is serving. For the other team to score a point, they must earn the chance to serve first.

Serving is done diagonally. A served ball should bounce from the server’s service area to the service area diagonal to them.

If the serve is successful and the team scores a point, their members switch positions with each other. The non-serving team retains their positions. The team that scored that point gets to serve again; this time, it will be the other team player who will serve.

If the serve becomes a fault, then the other team player will attempt to serve. However, if that serve also becomes a fault, the serve is transferred to the opposing team.

When calling scores and points, is it called out in this order: the server’s score, the receiver’s score, and which service the serving team is on. For example, let’s say that the current serving team has a score of 5, with the opposing team having 7 points. The serving team is doing its second serve. That will be called out as “5-7-2.” Take note that the last number isn’t an assigned number; it’s how many serves they will have performed after that round. The maximum number of service attempts a team can make is 2.

However, the first number to be called out at the start of any game should be “0-0-2.” The first team is automatically placed on its second serve so that it gets transferred to the opposing team in the case of a fault. That prevents any serving advantages from the start of the game.

If the team has an even number of points, then the first person to serve will do so from the right-hand side. If the team is on an odd number of points, the player must serve from the left side. Keeping this in check prevents mistaken calls or positioning.

Scoring for Pickleball Singles

It’s easier to define the scoring rules for a singles game once you understand those of a doubles game. As we mentioned, the scoring is similar, with just a few differences. These differences are:

Because of the absence of a second player and a second server, the single player changes positions when serving.

The first round is served from the left-hand side. The opposing player must receive the ball on the diagonal service area. Even if the player serves from the right-hand side in future rounds, the ball must always be received diagonally.

Since there is only one player per team, there is no need to call out the server number. Calling scores only involves two numbers: the serving player’s score and receiving player’s score.

There is no rally scoring in Pickleball. This sport still sticks to its classic scoring method. Just remember that you need to serve to score.


When it comes to Pickleball scoring, remember that this sport comes from three highly popular racquet sports and that its scoring system is not far off. Most of the scoring rules come from the serving rules. So when in doubt, look up services in Pickleball.

We hope our quick guide has clarified how you can earn points in this beautiful and fun sport.


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