How to Keep Score in Pickleball?

Keeping score in pickleball might seem a bit tricky at first, but with a little practice, it becomes second nature. This guide will help you understand the nuances of scoring in this popular paddle sport, covering the basics of point scoring and server sequence in pickleball.

Points in Pickleball

In pickleball, points can only be scored by the serving team, distinguishing it from some other racket sports where both teams can score regardless of who serves.
Each game begins with a serve, which must be made diagonally and underhand, with the ball struck below the server’s waist.
The serving sequence continues until the serving team commits a fault, such as hitting the ball out of bounds, failing to clear the net, or stepping into the non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen) and volleying the ball.
The first server announces the score before each serve, stating their team's score first, followed by the opponent's score, and then their server number (either 1 or 2). For example, "4-3-1" means the serving team has 4 points, the opponents have 3, and it is the first server's turn.
Once a fault occurs, if the serving team was at fault, a “side out” is called, and the serve switches to the other team.

How to win a Game in Picklball?

A standard pickleball game is played to 11 points, but to win, a team must lead by at least 2 points.

This means if the score is tied at 10-10, the game continues until one team has a 2-point advantage.

In tournaments, it’s common to see games played to 15 or even 21 points, particularly in the final rounds, but the win-by-two requirement remains consistent.

As most games are to 11 our pickleball scorekeeper has 11 points.

How Is a Match Won?

A pickleball match usually consists of the best of three games/sets. This means that to win the match, a team must win two out of three games.

Each game follows the same scoring rules, and between games, players typically switch sides to ensure fair play under varying conditions such as wind or sunlight. If playing indoor - no real need to switch sides.

If the match goes to a third game, this game may be played to 11 or sometimes to 15 points, depending on the specific rules of the tournament or event, still requiring a two-point margin for victory.

Special first point rule

In pickleball, the serving sequence has a unique rule for the first point of each game.

The first point of a game, will have only one player from the serving team try win a point. This will be “server 2”, for the duration of the game.

The score is called our 2,0,0 and the server will keep on serving until a “side out” occurs. Then the service will be awarded to the opposing team.

This special rule ensures an even distribution of serving opportunities between the teams from the beginning of the game.

Playing singles in pickleball

In singles, there are no “teams”. Having just one server is eliminating the need for a server number. Therefore, players only need to announce the score. 

Announce your score first, then your opponents as you would do in tennis, squash or table tennis. For instance, if you have 3 points and your opponent has 5, you would call out “3, 5” before serving the ball. 

Still puzzled by the pickleball scoring system. Don't worry. you are not alone. Checkout other numerous online tutorials which can help clarify it, along with resources from the USA Pickleball Association, which governs the sport's rules.

Additionally, there are accessories like the Scoring Right Pickleball scorekeeper, as well as apps and smartwatches, to assist you in keeping track of the score.

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