Pickleball Scoring: Ultimate Guide To Keeping Score in Pickleball

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pickleball scoring the ultimate guide to keeping score in pickleball

One of the hardest parts about pickleball when you're first being introduced to the game is the pickleball scoring.

In this guide to pickleball scoring I'm going to be breaking down both singles scoring and doubles serving in pickleball - with emphasis on the doubles scoring side.

And to make sure we are on the same page: this pickleball scoring guide will be breaking down standard pickleball scoring rules, and not discussing rally scoring which is used in MLP.

That is to say that 9.99999 times out of 10 when you show up for rec games you will be using standard scoring and when you watch the PPA Tour, APP Tour or any of the pro pickleball matches you will be seeing standard scoring the way we are going to be breaking it down here.

Let's start with some of the basics before we go deeper into some other categories...

Pickleball Scoring Guide - The Basics to Remember:

  • Points to Win: Pickleball is played to 11 points, and you must win by 2 points.
  • Player Positioning: The player on the right service court will always serve first for a team (regardless of which player ends up on that side when you lose your serve).
  • Scoring Points: You can only win points when it is your team’s serve.

The key points to remember right off the bat are that you're going to be playing to 11 points (winning by at least 2), and you can only score on your teams serve (meaning when you or your partner are serving).

This also goes for singles, meaning you can only score points on your own serve.

Now let's move on to some more intricate details about doubles score that will make singles scoring a piece of cake! 🙂

Pickleball Scoring - Doubles Pickleball Scoring

Pickleball Scoring: Doubles Scoring Guide

As I mentioned above, you can only score a point when either you or your partner is serving, which means you can't score when the opposing team is serving (when you and/or your partner are receiving the serve from the other team).

When starting both the game AND each time it becomes your team's serve possession again, you will start from the right side of the court.

Each time the serving time wins a point the players will switch sides and the server who served the winning point will continue to serve.

After the non-serving team wins a rally the second player on the serving team serves (unless it is the very first point of the game, in which case the serving team only serves once). After the second player on the serving team serves they swap sides and continue serving if they win the point, or lose the serve (which is referred to as a "side out") if they lose another rally and the other team begins serving.

And now that you know you will be rotating on your serve when you win, how to regain possession of your serve and other key details to scoring, there are a few things that you can make specific note of when it comes to the score and positioning:

  1. When you regain possession of the serve, which happens when there is a "side out" after both players on the other team have served, your team will ALWAYS start the serve with the player who ended on the right side of the court.
  2. Knowing that the servers will always remain in their positions until the serving teams wins a point allows you to also remember scoring/positioning based on even and odd numbers. Whichever person started the serve on the right side of the court will always have an even score on the right side and an odd score on the left. (Ex: If you started the game on the right side of the court, the score cannot be 2-0 while you're scoring from the left side).

Another key detail for pickleball scoring (which I made quick mention to above) is the fact that to begin the game the FIRST team serving will only get one serve.

People usually start by saying "Zero, Zero, Start" or "Zero, Zero, Two" - but we will go more into detail about calling the score below.

Pickleball Scoring - Singles Pickleball Scoring

Pickleball Scoring: Singles Scoring Guide

Now that you know a bit about double scoring, singles scoring will seem like a piece of cake.

Simply put: you can only score on your serve and if you lose a rally on the serve it immediately results in a "side out", which means your opponent will begin serving.

Similar to doubles scoring, but even more simple, you can also remember court positioning based on the right and left side of the court in singles pickleball.

Like doubles pickleball scoring you will also switch sides after each point is scored, which can only happen while the player is serving (you do not gain points while your opponent is scoring, the only thing that happens is an immediate side out and you begin your serving possession), and you will be starting the game on the right side of the court.

For that reason, you will ALWAYS be at an even scoring number on the right side of the court, and ALWAYS be at an odd scoring number on the left side of the court.

So, for example, if the score is 6-2 you will be scoring from the right side of the court.

Conversely, if the score is 7-2 and it is your possession, you will be scoring from the left side of the court.

Pickleball Scoring: How To Call Score In Singles Pickleball

Next up on our pickleball scoring guide is going to be how to call the score in pickleball, starting again with singles being that it is extremely simple.

So simple, in fact, that I'm not even going to be giving it it's own larger section and it will instead just help us transition into our doubles score calling.

First things first, the person serving will always be calling the score right before their serve.

That said, here's how you do it: to call the score in singles pickleball you will simply say your score and then your opponents score.

So, for example, if you're just starting the game you simply say "Zero, Zero". If you lose that rally your opponent will begin serving and also call "Zero, Zero", both players still serving from the right side until a point is won and they can move to the left.

For the sake of this example we'll pretend it is your serve and you just won the first point of the game. You would then switch to the left side and call "One, Zero" before serving.

Pickleball Scoring: How To Call Score In Doubles Pickleball

Next up on our pickleball scoring guide is going to be how to call the score in pickleball doubles, which gets a bit trickier because we'll be adding on another layer to the score calling.

Similar to singles pickleball you will still be saying your score first and then your opponents.

Also similar to singles pickleball, the person serving will always be calling the score right before they serve.

The only difference is that there will be a third number that comes after your score and your opponents score.

What Is The Third Number In The Pickleball Score?

We already know the first number is going to be your score (or whoever is serving), and the second number is going to be your opponent's score, but now we need to add in the third number, which is the number server the serving team is on.

So what does this mean? 

This means that the first person serving for each team will call their, their opponent's score, and then the number 1, representing that they are the first server.

If they continue scoring, they will continue saying one as the third number, but change the score.

For example, if my team gains possession of the serve and I am the first server and the score is 6 to 3, with my team in the lead I would say: "Six, Three, One".

If I go on to win that rally, and therefore the point, I would switch to the left side of the court and call the score as "Seven, Three, One".

Next, if we then lose that rally and the serve goes to my partner on the right side of the court (we didn't switch positions because we lost the rally and only switch when we win a point), they would go on to call the score as "Seven, Three, Two", with two representing the fact that they are the second server.

And finally, if we then go on to lose that rally and the opposing team gets the serve back to them, the first server on the right side of the court would then call the score as "Three, Seven, One".

Pickleball Scoring Recap: A Recap To Pickleball Scoring In Doubles and Singles Gameplay

If you're a visual learner like I am, you may want to refer to a video guide to help you learn more about pickleball scoring and rules.

For that reason, I embedded a video from one of my favorite YouTubers, That Pickleball Guy, above - who also made it on my list of the top ten pickleball YouTubers.

If you're just here for the scoring, you'll want to skip ahead and jump right to about four minutes and fifteen seconds into the video.

But, to recap, I do want to go over some of the basic things we learned for pickleball scoring.

  1. Points can only be scored by the team who is serving.
  2. When the non-serving team wins a rally the serving team switches servers or, if both players already served, it results in a "side out" which means the non-serving team wins possession of the serve.
  3. The first team to serve only gets one serve, as opposed to each player serving each time after a "side out" the rest of the game.
  4. The serving team switches positions on the court (right side is even side, left side is odd side) whenever they win points.
  5. The game always starts on the even side (right side) of the court, and whenever their is a side out and a team regains the serve, they also start on the right side of the court each time.
  6. The player serving the ball continues serving the ball until a rally is lost.
  7. The third number in the pickleball score only takes place in doubles pickleball, and it refers to the number server you are on.
  8. The score should be called by the player that is serving before they serve the ball each point.

Each of these points, and more, are discussed with examples above if you need some more help learning the pickleball scoring rules.

We all remember our first time playing and how hard it was to learn the pickleball scoring, so take your time, ask for help and remember that we were all there at one point.

pickleball scoring the ultimate guide to keeping score in pickleball (1)

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