Pickleball got its start in backyards in the Pacific Northwest in the 1960s, and the sport has come a long way since then. In 2022, Washington named it the state's official support, and more and more community centers and health clubs are hosting pickleball leagues.
Part of the fun of pickleball is that it's relatively easy to play. But pickleball scoring is more complex than the actual game, and it changes depending on whether you're playing singles or doubles. This guide on how to keep score in pickleball can help any beginner master the rules of pickleball scoring.
How To Keep Score in Pickleball Singles
A pickleball game ends when one player reaches 11 points, and the winner must be ahead by two points. Each half of a pickleball court is divided into two sections: the right service corner and the left service corner.
At the start of each rally, one player serves first. They are the server, and their score is the server score. The other player is the receiver, and their score is the receiver score.
When you serve, you use the right service corner if your score is even. If your score is odd, you score from the left service corner. It doesn't matter what your opponent's score is. You choose the side based on your score. As you serve, you yell out your score and then the receiver's score.
If you're the server, and the receiver faults, you score a point. The other player then has a turn to serve.
If you fault when you're the server, the other player then gets a turn to serve, but they don't receive a point. You can only score a point when you're the server.
How To Keep Score in Pickleball Doubles
Keeping score in pickleball doubles is more complex than in singles. Doubles games are still played to 11 and must be won by two points, and you can still only score when your side is serving.
When your team is serving, that is your service turn. When the other team is serving, that is your receiving turn.
Here's how play works:
- The player on the right service court is server 1.
- If server 1 scores a point, they switch places with server 2. Then, they serve from the left court.
- Server 2 serves from whichever court they are on when server 1 loses a rally.
- If they score a point, they switch places with server 1 and serve again.
- When server 2 loses the rally, the other team becomes the serving team, and the two players who just finished serving become the receivers.
The Exception to the Rule
To keep things fair, USA Pickleball has a special rule for the very first service turn of the game. If your team serves first, only Server 1 will serve the first round. When Server 1 loses the service turn, the other team serves.
Server 1 vs. Server 2
Who is server 1 and who is server 2 changes for each service turn. Whoever is in the right service court at the start of the service turn is server 1 for that turn. Whoever is in the left service court at the beginning of the service turn is server 2. This means you may use both service numbers during the course of a game.
Here's an example:
- Your team serves.
- You're in the right service court. You are Server 1.
- You lose the service.
- Server 2 serves and scores a point.
- You switch places with Server 2.
- They serve from the left service court.
- They lose the service.
- The other team has their service turn and fails to score.
- Your partner in the match is still in the right service court. They are now Server 1, and you are now Server 2.
Calling Scores During a Doubles Pickleball Game
Yelling out the score when you serve is one of the rules of pickleball. You call out the score in three numbers:
- First number: your team's score; this is the service score because your team is serving
- Second number: is the opponent's team's score; this is the receiver score
- Third number: your server number
Let's use the above example again to demonstrate:
- If you're server 1 and the other team has yet to score, you would call out 0-0-1 when you serve.
- After you score on your service turn, you would then call out 1-0-1.
- You lose the turn and your partner serves. They now call out 1-0-2.
- They lose the turn without scoring.
- Now, your opponent has their service turn. The player in the right service court is now Server 1. They serve and call out 0-1-1.
There is one exception to the rules regarding calling out when keeping score in pickleball. If you're the very first player to serve during the game, you don't call out 0-0-1. Instead, you say 0-0-2. This is the case even though you are serving first and you're standing in the right service court at the end of the game.
The reason why you say 2 instead of 1 is because your partner will not be serving. When you lose the rally, the other team will start their service turn. The "2" indicates that the service turn will change to the other team once you lose the rally.
Gear Up For Pickleball
Now that you understand what goes into keeping score in pickleball, you're ready to play. Devereux can help you gear up for the game with apparel and accessories like polos, tees, sweatshirts, headbands and baseball caps. Our pickleball collection features styles that look good on and off the court and help you stay comfortable during games. Complete your look with a pickleball paddle engineered to help you play with flair.