Pickleball Scoring Rules

As you’re learning the game, it’s important to know how to accurately keep score in pickleball. We’ll walk you through how to keep score in both doubles and singles, and how to call the score. Pickleball can be played as either doubles or singles.

Pickleball Can Be Played as Either Doubles or Singles.

Doubles Scoring Explained:

A team only scores points when serving. The receiving team cannot score points. Players on the serving teams can continue serving until a fault is made by his or her team. A fault occurs when the pickleball touches any part of the non-volley zone of the pickleball court on the serve, including the line, is hit out of bounds, does not clear the pickleball net, is volleyed from the non-volley zone on the court or is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side.

Player Position for Doubles at the Start of the Game:

player position at the start of the doubles game

player position at the start of the doubles game

At the start of the pickleball game, the player on the right side serves to the diagonally opposite court.

If the point is scored, the server then moves to the left side of the court and again serves to the diagonally opposite court. Players on the serving side continue to move from right to left or left to right each time a point is scored. If the serving team does not score a point, the players do not alternate sides. The receiving team never alternates sides regardless if points are scored or not. The first server will continue to serve until the serving team commits a fault, and then the serve passes onto the second server on the team. When the serving team makes their second fault, they stay in their same positioning and turn the ball over to the receiving team to begin serving. The player on the right serves first and this pattern continues throughout the game.

Calling the Score:

When playing doubles in pickleball, the score should be called as three numbers. The proper sequence for calling the score is the following: server score, receiver score, and for doubles only the server number one or two. To start a pickleball match, the score will be called zero, zero, two. This means that as soon as the serving team commits a fault, the other team gets to serve.

The server number — one or two — applies for that service turn only. Whoever is on the right side, depending on the score, when the team gets the serve back becomes the first server for that service team only.

The next time the team gets the serve back, it may be the other play that is on the right and is therefore the first server for that service turn only. Players first learning the game often mistakenly assume the player keeps the same server number throughout the game. This isn’t the case.

There is a first server exception to minimize the advantage of being the first team to serve in the game. Only one player, the player on the right, gets to serve on the first service turn of the game.  Since the serve goes to the receiving team when that player loses the serve, that player is designated as the second service. The game should start with the call “0-0-2.” The two indicates the second server and when the serve is lost it moves to the receiving team. When a team’s score is even, the player who served first in the game must be on the right or even side of the pickleball court and on the left or odd side of the court when the score is odd. 

Singles Scoring Explained:

Singles scoring in pickleball is similar to doubles scoring except there is no second server on the serving team. If your score is an even number, you should serve from the right service court. If your score is odd, you should serve from the left service court. The score is called as the server’s score and then the receiver’s score.

For more information about how to keep score in pickleball, visit https://usapickleball.org/.