Pickleball Scoring: Rules, Strategies, Techniques

pickleball paddle and ball

Pickleball has unique rules and a scoring system. In order to earn points, players must understand how they work. In this blog, we will delve into pickleball scoring rules, explore the point system and discuss strategies to maximize your success on the court.

Table of Contents

Rally Scoring in Pickleball

Pickleball follows a unique scoring system known as “rally scoring.” Both the serving and the receiving team can score points. The serving team is the team that initiates the point by serving the ball, while the receiving team attempts to return the serve. The serving team receives a point when the opponents commit a fault or fail to return the ball.

Pickleball scoring rules encourages competitive gameplay, as every rally has the potential to change the score. The players must make quick decisions and execute their shots effectively to avoid committing faults and losing points to their opponents.


In the beginning, a coin toss determines the serving team. After the coin toss, the winning team may choose to serve or receive first. If they choose to serve, the opposing team automatically becomes the receiving team.

2 / 2 A man holding a pickleball paddle, poised and prepared to execute a serve during a game.

The serving team starts the game by diagonally serving the ball from the court’s right-hand side. They must serve underhand and below the waist to hit the ball correctly. The server needs to aim to land the ball within the opponent’s service court, which is the diagonal area on the opposite side of the net.

While serving in pickleball, the ball must cross over the net. According to the rules, the team in possession of the ball must ensure that they return it before it bounces twice on their side. The receiving team aims to return the ball so that it clears the net and lands within the boundaries of the serving team’s court. The serving team shall earn a point if the receiving team cannot return the ball.

Side Rotation

Pickleball Doubles

Players in a pickleball doubles match positioned strategically on their side of the court, displaying proper placement and readiness for the game.

When the serving team scores a point, they will retain the right to serve again and rotate positions for subsequent serves. In pickleball doubles, the player who served the previous point moves to the opposite side of the court, while the partner moves one position to the right. This rotation ensures that each player on the serving team gets a chance to serve throughout the game.

Pickleball Singles

A player in a pickleball singles match standing at the ready position on their side of the court, prepared for the game to begin.

The serving side alternates based on whether the server’s score is even or odd. Here’s the correct explanation of the serving side in pickleball singles:

  • If your score is an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, etc.), you should be serving from the right service court.
  • If your score is an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, etc.), you should be serving from the left service court.

Pickleball Scoring Terminology

The starting score of a pickleball game

The score announcing typically states the serving team’s score first, followed by the receiving team’s score. For example, if the serving team has 4 points and the receiving team has 2 points, they call the score “4-2.”

Side Out

When the serving team commits a fault or loses a point, it is called a “side out.” This means the serving team loses the opportunity to score, and the opposing team gains the serve.

Game Point

Game point refers to when a team reaches 10 points. This indicates that the team with 10 points has the opportunity to win the game on the next rally. However, a team must still win the game by maintaining a lead of at least two points.

When both teams reach 10 points, it’s a tie. From this point, teams must win by a lead of two points to secure the game. Understanding pickleball scoring terminologies helps players and spectators follow the game’s progress and anticipate critical moments such as game point or match point. It adds to the excitement and engagement of the pickleball match.


When both teams reach 10 points, it’s a tie. From this point, teams must win by a lead of two points to secure the game. Understanding these scoring terminologies helps players and spectators follow the game’s progress and anticipate critical moments such as game point or match point. It adds to the excitement and engagement of the pickleball match.

In conclusion, pickleball scoring rules employs specific terminology to indicate the score, game point, and other crucial moments in the game. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these terms to have a better understanding of the game. So, next time you’re on the pickleball court, listen for the score announcements and embrace the exciting moments of game point and beyond.

Learn everything about pickleball rules in one place. Explore our central guide:

Pickleball Rules: Official Guidelines for the Game

How to Earn Points?

Points are scored in pickleball when the opposing team commits a fault. Let’s explore some common ways to earn points in pickleball:

Failing to Clear the Net:

If your opponent fails to hit the ball over the net and lands in the pickleball kitchen area, it’s a fault. As a result, you will gain a point.

Stepping into Non-Volley Zone:

The non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen, is a specific area extending 7 feet on both sides of the net. The players cannot volley the ball (hitting it in the air without letting it bounce) while standing inside the kitchen. If your opponent steps into the kitchen and volleys the ball, it is considered a fault. As a result, you earn a point.

Volleying Before the Ball Bounces:

After the serve, both teams must let the ball bounce on their side before volleying it. If your opponent strike the ball before it bounces on their side, it’s a fault. In other words, you gonna get a point.

Double Hitting the Ball:

It is against the rules for players to hit the ball twice in succession on their side. If your opponent unintentionally hits the ball twice without bouncing, it is considered a fault, and you earn a point. These few examples can be implemented to earn points in pickleball. You should play strategically to force your opponents to do mistakes. As a result, you can accumulate points and work your way toward winning the game.

Remember that each fault committed by the opponent allows you to earn a point. It’s important to focusing on consistency and accurate shots while applying pressure on your opponent. It can increase your chances of scoring points and achieving victory.

Winning the Game

The objective of pickleball game is to win the game by reaching a designated point total before the opposing team. The specific point total can vary but is commonly set at 11, 15, or 21 points. However, simply reaching the point total is not enough to secure a victory. The winning team must also have a lead of at least two points over the opposing team.

When both teams simultaneously reach the designated point total, it is called a “tie.” In this situation, the game continues until one team manages to establish a lead of two points. For example, if the score is tied at 10-10 in an 11-point game, the game will continue until one team reaches 12 points with a two-point lead.

A victorious man proudly holding a trophy after winning a pickleball tournament, a triumphant smile on his face as he celebrates his achievement.

However, it’s important to note that matches in pickleball often consist of multiple games. Usually, matches are played either in a best-of-three or best-of-five format. The first team to win two or three games, respectively, wins the match. Each game is played to the designated point total. The team with the required two-point lead wins. Pickleball scoring rules ensures that a team’s victory is not merely based on a small margin of points. It requires a clear and decisive lead. It adds excitement and intensity to the game, as teams must strive to overcome the lead to secure a win.

Strategies for Successful Pickleball Scoring

It’s vital to implement effective strategies to enhance your scoring potential. Strategic shot placement involves aiming your shots at strategic areas of the pickleball court that expose your opponents’ weaknesses or create difficult returns. You should utilize different shot techniques, such as well-executed dinks, volleys, and lobs. It can also catch your opponents off guard and open up scoring opportunities. 

Additionally, identifying and targeting your opponent weak points is specifically a good pickleball strategy. Whether it’s their footwork, backhand, or positioning, you can put them under pressure and increase your chances of earning points. It’s essential to maintain proper court positioning is crucial. It allows you to cover the court efficiently and be in a favorable position to capitalize on weak shots.

Communication with your partner in doubles play is essential for coordinating movements, setting up strategic plays, and avoiding confusion. Lastly, you have to adapt your opponent’s playing style and adjust your strategies. It will help you anticipate their moves and exploit any mistakes they make. Don’t forget to apply these strategies into your game as it can help you to elevate your scoring performance and gain an advantage on the pickleball court.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

It’s important to avoid common mistakes to ensure a strong scoring performance. Some common mistakes in pickleball are hitting the ball outside the court, serving the ball into the net, and failing to clear the net on a return shot. Be aware of these mistakes as it can minimize your faults and increase your scoring opportunities.


Understanding the pickleball scoring rules is essential for players to enjoy the game and compete effectively. Players must elevate their performance on the court by grasping the rules and avoiding common mistakes. So, the next time you step onto the pickleball court, remember these pickleball scoring insights. Happy Pickleballing!

FAQ: Pickleball Scoring Rule

Serving rotation is determined by the initial coin toss or agreed-upon method to decide which team serves first. After a fault is committed by the serving team, the serve is passed on to the opposing team. Each player on the team then has an opportunity to serve before the rotation of the serve takes place again.

No, points cannot be won on the opponent’s serve. Only the serving team has the opportunity to score points while they are serving. The receiving team’s objective is to win the serve and subsequently score points on their own serve.

If a fault occurs during a serve in pickleball, the serve is lost, and the opposing team gains the opportunity to serve. Faults can include the serve landing outside the receiving team’s court, failing to clear the non-volley zone, or being struck incorrectly.

The scoring system remains the same for both singles and doubles Pickleball. However, in doubles, there are two players per team, and the serving and receiving positions alternate between teammates.


Hello, fellow pickleball enthusiasts! My name is Sayham, and I am the proud solo founder of PickleDrive. As an avid pickleball player, expert, and editor of Pickledrive, I am thrilled to welcome you to our ultimate destination for all things pickleball.