Pickleball is a fast-paced and exciting sport that has been gaining popularity all over the world. One of the important aspects of playing pickleball is keeping the score accurate. Knowing how to keep score in pickleball is not only essential for playing the game, but it also adds to the excitement and competitiveness of the sport.
In pickleball mastering the skill of keeping the score on a court is as valuable as learning the game itself. Many players, beginners as well as experienced not being able to keep a check on the scoring system during the match which can lead to confusion.
In the following guide, I will explore the rules and techniques on how do you keep score for pickleball, so you can be confident and prepared to hit the court with your friends and opponents. Whether you are a seasoned player or just starting, understanding the ins and outs of keeping score will help you enjoy the game even more.
Pickleball Scoring Rules
The game of pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. A pickleball court’s net size is quite similar to a typical badminton court net.
In pickleball, the scoring system is the same as that of volleyball, with games typically played to 11 points, and matches consisting of the best of three or five games. Following are some of the basic scoring rules in pickleball:
A coin toss or other random method is used to decide who will serve first. The serving team or player will continue to do serving until a fault is committed. When a fault takes place, the service will immediately switch to the opposing team.
As far as the service is concerned, a player should hit the ball diagonally into the opponent’s court to be considered legal. In addition, the ball must pass through the net and touch down on the service court.
When the serving team prevails in a rally or when the receiving team makes a mistake, points are awarded. A fault can be any number of things, such as hitting the ball out of bounds, hitting the net with the ball etc.
As mentioned above, a pickleball game is exactly like a volleyball game. You need to score a total of 11 points with a difference of two points to win a game. However, if the match is tied at 10 points apiece then the game will continue until one player gets ahead of the other by a margin of two points.
4. Serving Rotation
The server switches sides whenever there is a point won by the serving team, and moves to the opposite side of the court to serve. While in case of a point lost by the serving team, the other team will get the serve. However, the server must stand in the right-hand corner of the court when serving.
A fault is anything that is against the rules of the pickleball game such as illegal serves, or failing to return the ball over the net. A fault will cause service to be interrupted as well as awarding a free point to your opposite team.
6. Let Serve
A “let serve” occurs when the server’s serve touches the net and lands in the appropriate service court. In this way, the server gets another chance to serve without penalty.
7. Non-volley zone
Each side of the net has a seven-foot non-volley zone. Players cannot step into this zone and hit the ball in the air. They must let the ball bounce first before hitting it.
How to Keep Score in Pickleball Doubles?
Just like tennis, badminton, or any other racquet sport, pickleball game is also played in singles and doubles. How to keep score in pickleball is more confusing in doubles matches than in singles. Well, not really. It is all about understanding the three-way number system used in the doubles game.
You read it right. Three figures made up the score in pickleball doubles like (1-1-2). The first figure shows the result for the serving team while the receiving team’s score is indicated by the second digit. As for the third digit, it identifies which player among the two is serving in that game.
At the start of a pickleball match, the score will be (0-0-2). Once there is a fault committed by the server team, the receiving team gets the chance to serve.
So next time you watch a doubles pickleball game and see a scorecard like (3-4-2), you will know that the first number is for the server team. The second figure is for the opponents and the third number is to show the server number.
Remember, communication between teammates is key when keeping score in pickleball doubles. Therefore, always make sure to discuss the score with your partner after each point.
Positioning of Player in Pickleball Doubles
For effective coverage of the whole court and strategic play, player positioning is very crucial in pickleball doubles. The general rules for player positioning in pickleball doubles are listed below.
- The non-serving players just before the serve stands near the net in the “non-volley zone” also known as the “kitchen.” In this position, any balls that bounce in the kitchen area are covered by the serving partner. In addition, the same player can intercept the shots hit by the opponent at the net.
As for the servers, at the start of the serve, their positioning is anywhere behind the baseline.
- The returner’s partner should position themselves slightly behind and to the side of the returner. With this stance, they can cover a large portion of the court. In this position, the non-returning player can easily tackle the majority of the shots hit by the opponent.
Meanwhile, the returning player should progress toward the kitchen area after returning the serve to take full net control.
- The important point is that the players move freely during a rally only when the serve and return take place. Generally, both players from either side of the court should look for a position that will cover the vast area of the court.
To make sure they are properly covering different areas of the court, players should communicate with one another.
How to Keep Score in Pickleball Singles?
Pickleball single scoring is pretty straightforward and similar to tennis single scoring. The only exception to pickleball double scoring is that there is only one server in singles.
Another good thing about single scoring is as there are only two players involved so just two numbers are used to show the scorecard (1-1). Unlike in doubles, there is no third digit required for keeping score in pickleball singles.
It is simple to understand that the first number is the server’s score while the second number is the receiver points. If 10-8 is a score line in a singles game, you will understand that 10 points are for the server and 8 points are the receiver’s score.
Positioning of Player in Pickleball Singles
With just one player involved on each side of the court, the player’s position is very different in singles pickleball. The general positioning rules for pickleball singles are listed below:
- Both the server and receiver should stand behind the baseline at the start of the game. Once the service is made by landing the ball diagonally into the opponent’s court, the server approaches the non-volley zone. While the receiver standing at the court center should also move towards the kitchen area but only after returning the serve.
The right-hand side of the court will be the server’s serving area if the score is even. While for odd scores, the service should take place on the left courtside.
- Like pickleball doubles, after serving and returning both players during a rally can move freely around the court to hit shots. By keeping their positions firm, they should look to cover all areas of the court. In singles, it is crucial to cover the middle of the court to avoid giving the opponent an easy shot down the line.
- Defensive positioning is also used in pickleball singles. Players mostly adopted this type of approach during long rallies. When your opponent plays a deep shot, the player can go back to the baseline to strike the ball. In addition, if the opponent plays a drop shot, you can move forward to hit the ball near the net.
Keeping score in pickleball is an essential aspect of the game that ensures fair play and healthy competition. Whether you are playing singles or doubles, it is important to understand the scoring system and keep track of the score throughout the game.
By following the simple scoring rules that are mentioned in this article, I have explained how to keep score in pickleball. With these guidelines, you can enjoy playing pickleball while keeping the score accurate and fair. So, grab your pickleball paddle, hit the court, and have fun while keeping score like a pro!