Pickleball Scoring: A Simple Guide With Examples

In this article, we provide a clear and concise explanation of the pickleball scoring system, making it easy for players of all levels to understand and keep score accurately.

Mike Hardy

Pickleball scoring is a fundamental aspect of the game, yet it can often confuse newcomers and experienced players. Whether you're new to the game or looking to refresh your knowledge, understanding pickleball scoring is essential for enjoying it fully. 

In this simple guide, we'll explore the rules and principles behind pickleball scoring, helping you confidently navigate points, rallies, and side-outs. From serving to winning the game, we'll walk you through each step of the scoring process, ensuring clarity and a solid grasp.

How to Keep Score in Pickleball?

The scoring system in pickleball is straightforward: points are earned only by the serving side, and games are typically played to 11 points, with a winning margin of at least two points. 

To keep score, the serving team's score is announced first, followed by the receiving team's score. Each time the serving team wins a rally, they earn a point and continue to serve until they commit a fault, resulting in a side-out and the opposing team serving. 

Scorekeepers can use various methods, such as verbal announcements, hand signals, or scorecards, to track points and ensure accuracy. Remember, switching sides of the court is crucial when the sum of both teams' scores equals 10.

Here's a simple table illustrating the scoring system in pickleball:


Points Awarded

Serving Side Wins a Rally


Serving Side Loses a Rally


Non-Serving Side Wins a Rally


Non-Serving Side Loses a Rally


Fault Serve


Fault During Play (serving side)


Hitting Ball Out  (serving side)


Double Bounce  (serving side)


Non-Volley Zone Violation  (serving side)


Winning the Game

11 (or 15/21, Must Win by 2 Points)

This table outlines the points awarded for various actions during a pickleball game. When the serving side loses a rally or commits a fault, a side-out occurs, giving the serve to the other team without awarding any points to the non-serving side. The game is typically played to 11, 15, or 21 points, and the winner must win by at least 2 points.

Scoring in Doubles Pickleball

Each team consists of two players positioned on opposite sides of the court, and the serving team receives two serves (one for each partner), except for the first rally of the game, in which it receives only one serve in an effort to be fair. The serving team's score is announced first, followed by the receiving team's score, then the server (either 1 or 2), with points scored consecutively by the serving team.

Unlike singles, where the serving player alternates after every point, the serving team retains the serve until they commit a fault or lose the rally in doubles. The first team to reach 11 points, with a margin of at least two points, wins the game, and tournament matches are typically played as best-of-three games.

Scoring in Singles Pickleball

In singles pickleball, scoring follows the same principles as doubles but with a few key differences. Each player serves from one side of the court, with the receiver standing diagonally opposite. The serving player can only score points when they win a rally, while the receiving player can earn points by winning rallies or forcing a side-out. 

Points are scored only by the serving side, and games are typically played to 11 points. The winner needs to win by a margin of at least two points. To maintain fairness, players switch sides after one player reaches six points.

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Pickleball Scoring for Beginners

Pickleball scoring for beginners can initially seem daunting, but it follows a straightforward system designed to keep matches engaging and competitive. In pickleball, points are scored only by the serving team, and games are typically played to 11 or 15 points, depending on the agreed-upon rules. 

To start, serving alternates between teams, with points earned by the serving team if the receiving team commits a fault or fails to return the ball successfully. Beginners should focus on understanding the concept of side-outs, where the serving team loses the serve if they fail to score a point or commit a fault, allowing the opposing team to serve instead. 

Keeping track of the score can be simplified by announcing the serving team's score first, followed by the receiving team's score, and ensuring clear communication between players to avoid confusion. As beginners gain experience, they'll become more familiar with the scoring system and develop pickleball strategies to maximize their points while minimizing errors.

Variations and Advanced Scoring Techniques

Advanced scoring techniques in pickleball introduce nuances and strategic elements that elevate gameplay to a higher level:

  • Alternative Scoring Systems: Explore different methods, such as the "Rally" scoring system, which scores points regardless of the serving side.

  • Point Multipliers: Implement pickleball rules where certain shots or actions earn additional points, like hitting an overhead smash or executing a successful drop shot.

  • Handicap Scoring: Adjust scores based on players' skill levels to level the playing field and encourage fair competition.

  • Side-Out Rules: Introduce rules requiring a side-out not only when the serving team loses a rally but also when it fails to win a point on its serve.

  • Tiebreaker Rules: Implement tiebreaker formats such as the "2-Point Advantage" system, where the winner must win by at least two points.

These advanced techniques add complexity and excitement to the game, challenging players to think strategically and adapt their tactics accordingly, ultimately enhancing the overall pickleball experience.

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Scoring Etiquette and Sportsmanship in Pickleball

Pickleball players need to demonstrate respect and integrity during scorekeeping, ensuring fairness and transparency throughout the game. This includes acknowledging points honestly, refraining from disputing calls excessively and maintaining composure in the face of challenges or setbacks. 

Good sportsmanship extends beyond scorekeeping to encompass behavior on and off the court, such as congratulating opponents on well-played shots, offering encouragement, and displaying humility in victory or defeat.

 By upholding these principles, pickleball players contribute to a culture of camaraderie and mutual respect, enhancing the overall pickleball experience for everyone involved.

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