Whether you are playing pickleball for fun or as part of a tournament, it is helpful to know about scoring for pickleball. The scoring rules can be confusing, especially if you are new to the game, so here is useful information to get you started.


Basics of Scoring for Pickleball

The first thing to understand about the scoring for pickleball is that only the team serving can score points. If the receiving team doesn’t return the serve or commits a fault, the serving team scores a point. A fault is when a rule, such as the double-bounce rule, is violated. The play then stops, and the serving team scores a point. Here are examples of common faults that, when committed by the receiving team, would result in the serving team scoring a point:

  • Hitting the ball after it bounces more than once
  • Hitting the ball out of the air before it bounces once
  • Catching or interfering with the ball in the air before it bounces
  • Getting hit by the ball before it bounces
  • Volleying the ball while standing in or touching the line of the non-volley zone

The serving team can also commit a fault similar to the receiving team. When that occurs, the server loses the serve.

Most games end when one team reaches 11 points. The score must also be at least two points higher than the opposing team’s. In other games, particularly tournaments, the play might continue until a team has reached a score of either 15 or 21 points, again winning by at least two points.

Doubles Game Scoring for Pickleball

The most popular way to play pickleball is a doubles game, meaning four people are playing, two on each team. Except for the first serve of the game, each team gets two serves, one for each player. Before serving, the team member must call out the score, which consists of three numbers:

  • The first number is the current score of the serving team.
  • The second number is the present score of the receiving team.
  • The third number is the number of the server, which will always be either a one or two.

Every pickleball game begins with a score of 0-0-2 or 0-0-Start, since no team has scored points yet, and the serving team only gets one serve. Once a point is scored, the players on the serving team then switch sides, with the same player continuing to serve. The players on the receiving team do not switch sides.

Singles Game Scoring for Pickleball

Scoring for pickleball singles games is similar to doubles games, except there are only two numbers in the score called out before each serve: the serving team score and the receiving team score. Since there is only one player on each team, the server number is not applicable and thus omitted when playing a singles game.

Once you start playing pickleball, it will become easier to understand the scoring for pickleball.