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Demystifying Pickleball Scoring System

Demystifying Pickleball Scoring System

Pickleball is a sport that has been sweeping the nation, combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It’s an exciting game that’s easy to pick up but can be a bit confusing for beginners when it comes to scoring. In this article, we’ll demystify the pickleball scoring system, breaking down the rules and ensuring you have all the knowledge you need to enjoy the game to the fullest.

Basic Scoring Rules

1. The Game

Pickleball is played to 11 points, and you must win by a margin of at least two points. If the score reaches 10-10, the game continues until one player or team wins by two points.

2. Serving

Only the serving team can score points. The serving team starts with zero points, and they gain points as long as they maintain their serve. If the non-serving team wins a rally, they gain the serve but do not score a point.

3. How Points are Scored

Points are scored only by the serving team. If you win a rally while serving, you earn a point. If you lose a rally while serving, the opposing team gains the serve but doesn’t score a point.

4. First Serve

In a standard game, the serving team has one player designated as the “server.” They start the game by serving the ball diagonally to the opponent’s service box.

5. Faults

A “fault” occurs when a serving or receiving team violates the rules. Common faults include serving the ball into the wrong service box, stepping into the non-volley zone, or hitting the ball out of bounds. Committing a fault results in a side-out, and the opposing team gains the serve.

Keeping Score

6. Scoring Sequence

When a game begins, the serving team starts at “0” points. If they win a rally, they earn a point. The next rally, they’re at “1” point, and so on. The serving team continues to serve until they lose a rally.

7. Switching Sides

In doubles play, both teams switch sides of the court when the serving team’s score is even. For example, when the serving team’s score is “4,” both teams switch sides.

8. Winning the Game

A game is won when one team reaches 11 points and is ahead by at least two points. In tournament play, games may be played to 15 or 21 points.

Additional Rules

9. Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone is a seven-foot area on each side of the net. Players are not allowed to hit the ball in the air while standing in the non-volley zone. However, they can hit volleys (balls that bounce before being hit) from this area.

10. Two-Bounce Rule

A unique aspect of pickleball is the two-bounce rule. This means that the return of serve and the serve itself must both bounce before players can start volleying the ball. After the two bounces, the game becomes fast-paced, and players can volley freely.

11. Let Serves

A “let” serve occurs when the ball hits the net but still goes over and lands within the correct service box. Let serves are replayed and do not count as faults.


Q: Can a serving team lose points?

A: No, a serving team cannot lose points. They only lose the serve.

Q: How long is the non-volley zone?

A: The non-volley zone is a seven-foot area on each side of the net.

Q: Can I volley the ball immediately after the serve?

A: No, you must wait for both the serve and the return of serve to bounce before volleying.

Q: Can the ball hit the net and still be in play?

A: Yes, if the ball hits the net and lands in the correct service box, it’s a let serve and is replayed.

Q: What is the minimum score to win a game in pickleball?

A: In standard games, a team must score 11 points and win by at least two points to win the game.


Pickleball is an exciting and accessible sport that’s suitable for all ages. Understanding the scoring system is crucial to fully enjoy the game. Now that you’re well-versed in the pickleball scoring rules, you can confidently step onto the court and start racking up the points, knowing when to serve, when to switch sides, and when to celebrate your victories. So grab your paddle, head to the nearest pickleball court, and get ready for a thrilling game of Demystifying Pickleball Scoring System!

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