How does Pickleball Scoring work?

Man playing pickleball

In pickleball scoring, the first team or player to reach 11 points and have a two-point lead wins one game. To win the match, two out of three games must be won. A point can only be scored when serving.


As a pickleball tournament organizer, I get asked a ton of questions about how to keep score.


In this article, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about scoring before you even pick up a paddle.


Keep reading if you want to learn:

7 Doubles Pickleball Scoring Rules for Beginners

  1. To win a match, you must win two out of three games. Games are usually played to 11 points, and you must win by at least 2 points.
  2. The server calls the score and the player on the right side of the court serves first.
  3. Each team gets two serves – except for the first serve of the game, when only one player serves.
  4. When keeping score, call out your team’s number, the other team’s number, and the server.
  5. Call out the score before you serve, or else you’ll get a fault.
  6. No pressure – but you want to make sure you hit the ball over the net!
  7. Have fun and enjoy the game!

How does pickleball doubles scoring work?

  • Games are usually played until someone gets 11 points, but in some tournaments people play to 15 or 21 points. The team that wins 2 out of 3 games wins the match.
  • The team serving always has a chance to score points and switch positions with their partner. The team receiving the serve doesn’t score points or switch positions.
  • Before serving, the team serving must always let everyone know what the score is.
  • If the team serving makes a mistake, the serve goes to the receiving team and they get a chance to get points for their team.

Which side do I serve from?

Every game starts when someone serves from the right side of the court. The server must always hit the pickleball across (or diagonally) to the receiving team’s right side of the court.

How do you say the score in pickleball doubles?

Pickleball doubles is played with three numbers. The first two represent the points each team has, and the third is how many serves the serving team has had. For example, if it’s “5-3, 2”, the serving team has 5 points and the receiving team has 3 points, and the serving team is on their second turn.


When it’s time to serve, the server has 10 seconds to call the score, then 10 seconds to actually serve. Everyone should be in the right spot and ready to play before the score is called.


Here’s a tip: use your fingers to sign the score too! It’s a useful way for people who can’t hear well to follow the game.


Why does the score have three numbers?

In doubles pickleball, the third number in the score indicates whether the serving team is on their first or second serve.

Why does pickleball doubles scoring start at 0,0,2?

In doubles Pickleball, the score is 0-0-2 before the game starts. This shows that neither team has scored yet and that the serving team will serve until they either lose a rally or commits a fault. Instead of each player on the team taking their usual turn serving. 


This rule helps make sure the first serving team doesn’t get an advantage and is called the First Server Exception.


What is a “sideout” in pickleball?

A “sideout” occurs when the team serving on one side has used up their two serves, and it’s time for the other team to serve.

What are easy ways to help keep track of the score in pickleball?

When you play pickleball, you can use apps on your watch or phone to keep track of the score. Some of them are called Pickleball Score Keeper, Picklescore, and Pickleball Scorer.


At the start of the game, someone should wear a wristband and serve from the right side of the court. If the score is an even number (like 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10), serve from the right side. If the score is an odd number (like 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9), serve from the left side.


If your team has an even score, you’ll be on the right side of the court. If your team has an odd score, you’ll be on the left side of the court.


Scoring in Pickleball Doubles vs Singles

There are two key differences between singles and doubles scoring.

  1. The score is only called with two numbers instead of three. It is simply stated as: server score, receiver score.
  2. Each player has one serve, rather than each team having two in doubles.

7 Singles Pickleball Scoring Rules for Beginners

  1. Count the points one-by-one (1,2,3,4 and so on).
  2. Play games until someone gets to 11 points and has 2 more points than the other person. You need to win 2 out of 3 games to win the match.
  3. Only the person who is serving can get points.
  4. Use the “Right Even” rule to keep track of the score. The first person to serve stands on the right side of the court. Whenever they serve from the right side, their team should have an even number (like 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10).
  5. Each player only gets one serve when playing singles.
  6. Keep track of only two numbers, not three (you don’t need to say which server it is because there’s only one).
  7. Call out the score before you serve or you’ll get a fault.

How does scoring Works in Pickleball Singles?

Singles pickleball is like doubles, but there is only one server.

The server serves from the right side when their score is even (2, 4, 6, etc.) and from the left side when their score is odd (1, 3, 5, etc.).

It is the server’s score that decides where they serve from, rather than score of the receiver.

What is Rally Scoring in Pickleball?

In traditional scoring, when a team serves the ball, they get a point.

With rally scoring, either team can get a point when they win the rally. That means when the ball is hit back and forth, whoever wins the rally gets the point, like in tennis.

Most pickleball players and tournaments don’t use rally scoring, but Major League Pickleball used it for the 2023 season.

What are the Singles Scoring Differences in Pickleball?

In singles pickleball, the server always serves the ball from the right side when they have an even score, and from the left side when they have an odd score.

The side they serve from is based on their score, not the receiver’s score.

To keep track of the score, the server’s score is said first, then the receiver’s score. For example, if the server has 3 points and the receiver has 2 points, the score is 3-2.

What’s Next?

Want to learn more pickleball? Check out our blog post about pickleball paddle guides and make sure you are using the best paddle for your scoring strategy here.
Cover photo by Venti Views from Unsplash

John Warner

John Warner

John is a pickleball fanatic and father of two.  He is an avid player and competes in local tournaments whenever he can. In addition to his love for the game, John is also passionate about teaching others and has organized several pickleball clinics for beginners in his community. He and his wife, first met on a pickleball court, and now make sure to set aside time each week to play together as a family and teach their two toddlers to art of the dink.

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