How to play pickleball singles – pickleball singles rules in 2024

Alex Jones

Pickleball is usually played as a doubles game, but you should also be able to play singles when the occasion arises.

Unlike pickleball doubles, pickleball singles requires you to cover your own side of the court. You’ll improve your pickleball skills as a result, but it can also be a lot of fun.

Pickleball doubles rules and pickleball singles rules will be discussed in this article. As well as tips and strategies for improving your singles game, we will also provide some suggestions.

How to play pickleball singles

How to play pickleball singles

The rules of pickleball singles are basically the same as those of pickleball doubles. One of the main differences is that you’re alone on your side of the court. After we discuss singles and doubles in more detail, we will go over the technical difference between the two.

Court positioning

Singles in pickleball follow the same rules as doubles. When you serve, you must stand behind the baseline. On the right side of the court, the first serve is made.

When your score is even, you serve from the right side, and when your score is odd, you serve from the left side.

It’s important to swiftly get up to the non-volley zone (or ‘kitchen’) following a serve, regardless of whether you’re playing doubles or singles. The angle shots of your opponent can be cut off from that position.

Discover how pickleball’s kitchen works

Court dimensions

The size of both the singles and doubles courts is the same, unlike in tennis, where the singles court sidelines are well within the doubles court sidelines.

A pickleball court measures 20′ by 44′ for both versions. If you’re a single, you’ll have 440 square feet all to yourself.

Equipment

Both singles and doubles pickleball require the same equipment. Moreover, the pickleball net height is the same, as are the balls and the court. In pickleball, you need a good quality paddle, just like in doubles.

Singles players don’t have to worry about clashing wardrobes with their teammates, so they can wear whatever they want when it comes to pickleball clothing. Your shirt just has to be the opposite color of the ball!

Also, read What is stacking in pickleball?

Pickleball singles rules

How to play pickleball singles

In pickleball, doubles is the predominant game. There is a growing interest in pickleball singles, particularly among younger players and those with tennis backgrounds.

Back in the day, singles consisted of short bursts of action, perhaps three to four shots back and forth. Due to younger players and a greater need for physical fitness, the game is becoming longer and more exciting as it develops.

Server rules (and determining the serving team)

Singles pickleball begins with a serve from the right side of the court, just like doubles. There are traditional methods for determining who serves first, such as flipping a coin.

The server serves again if they win the rally (or score an ace), but they move to the left side this time. Serving alternately from either side continues until a rally is lost or a fault is committed.

An opponent receives the service after a fault (called a “side-out”). They serve from the right court side if this is their first time serving.

By keeping track of your score throughout the game, you’ll be able to determine where your serve is coming from as the match progresses. The right side of the court is where you serve if your score is even. In the case of an odd score, the left side of the court serves. For more information about pickleball serving rules, watch the video below:

Scoring

There is no third number in singles pickleball, so scoring is easier. Singles don’t use the third number in a score, which is used in doubles to indicate which teammate is serving.

As a singles player, your score shows how many points you have won (e.g. 2 to 1). We know the person with 2 points is the current server, since the server’s score always comes first.

Pickleball singles scoring couldn’t be simpler. For you to win the game and be ahead by two points, you must earn 11 points just as you did in doubles. To learn more about pickleball scoring, watch the video below:

Volleys and double bounce

A singles game is played similarly to a doubles game: you can’t play volleys in the kitchen (non-volley zone), and you’re bound by the “double bounce rule.”

When receiving the serve, the player is required to allow the ball to bounce before returning it. It must also bounce once after being returned to the server. As soon as this is done, it is game on and it is possible to volley back and forth without the ball bouncing. The double bounce rule can be found here:

Line calls

Singles pickleball line calls are the same as doubles pickleball. The correct call is “out” when the ball lands outside the lines and a space clearly appears between it and the line.

You must always give your opponent the benefit of the doubt. It is in your opponent’s favor if you aren’t sure.

Also, read How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle

What are the differences between pickleball singles vs doubles?

How to play pickleball singles

Pickleball singles is very similar to pickleball doubles, as we’ve seen. They differ, however, in a few important ways.

Key differences between pickleball singles vs doubles

Pickleball in singles differs primarily from pickleball in doubles by the fact that each player is on their own court. The entire court must be covered by you alone without a teammate.

A lot more strategy and shot placement is required for this game, as well as speed and agility.

Furthermore, fewer plays are concentrated near the net in singles pickleball. The kitchen line is a great place to get to, but one player can get trapped in the backcourt and won’t be able to move.

This leads to a more open game with longer shots. Rather than blocking shots and angles from the kitchen line, players will hit more groundstrokes from their backcourt side.

The feeling of being less friendly can also be felt by singles. It is a super social game when played recreationally, and the doubles format makes it even more so.

In a small court with four players, there are plenty of opportunities for conversation and laughter.

Increasing popularity of pickleball puts a lot of pressure on court time. The popularity of doubles play stems from the fact that it allows twice as many people to play at the same time.

Why you should play pickleball singles over doubles: Reasons

Even doubles fans cannot deny the advantages of playing singles.

First of all, all that running around is a great workout. The amount of steps and calories you burn while playing pickleball singles is significantly higher than when you play pickleball doubles.

Singles pickleball players take approximately 3,322 steps per hour. The number of steps in doubles is about 2,790. If you play singles, that’s an increase of 16%.

You can also improve your overall pickleball skills by playing singles. The majority of shots you’ll take will be groundstrokes, but there will be some shots on the run as well. Playing doubles pickleball again will be a breeze compared to covering half of the court!

Also. read What Does a Pickleball Look Like?

How skinny singles pickleball works

How to play pickleball singles

The skinny singles game has gained popularity across the US as an alternative to standard singles. It is also a great pickleball drill that can be used by players who usually avoid singles.

What is the difference between pickleball singles vs skinny singles?

This is simply due to the fact that only half of the court is used. It is the division of the court that makes it interesting. The court can be split two ways in skinny singles:

Down the line: Your opponent and you play across the net, switching sides with each serve.

Cross court: The serve changes diagonally with each serve, and depending on the score, you and your opponent play on diagonal courts.

With this variation, picking up the entire court alone isn’t necessary, so it’s a more manageable workout. By using the same shots and strategies as in a doubles game, it makes the game a little more like a doubles game.

Skinny singles pickleball rules

Court size

There is only half a court used in skinny singles. Thus, your 440 square feet are reduced to just 220 square feet, or 10′ by 22′.

Variations

A slim single is a variation of a skinny single. Two feet of space are removed from either side of the court in slender singles, which reduces the court size by 20%.

As a result, skinny singles becomes easier, and pickleheads can enjoy the singles game more.

Singles pickleball strategies:

For singles pickleball, here are some strategies:

  • Make your serve from around the middle of the court so you’re ready to hit your next shot quickly. Additionally, this prevents your opponent from getting a lot of angle on the return.
  • The deeper you serve, the more force your opponent has to make a longer return shot. Don’t go out of bounds or too deep.
  • Return the ball deep and arcing when you are the receiver
  • The middle of the court is the best place to start. To avoid leaving a large gap for your opponent to aim at after you have hit your shot, move to a central position after you have hit your shot.
  • Make use of your opponent’s momentum by attacking their weak side (usually their backhand). When they move in one direction, hit your shot in the opposite direction, as it can be hard to reverse their momentum.

Take a look at this USA Pickleball strategy guide:

How to win pickleball singles

  • Discover your opponent’s weakness early.
  • Take your shots more aggressively.
  • Key is deep returns.
  • Keep a positive attitude.

Also, read How To Play Pickleball On A Tennis Court?

FAQs

When can you rush the kitchen in pickleball singles?

When playing pickleball singles, it is beneficial to move forward as quickly as possible to the kitchen (non-volley zone line).

How many times do you serve in pickleball singles?

Singles pickleball gives you one serve attempt, unless the opponent lets you. In this case, the ball lands in the correct service court after hitting the top of the net.

Are the rules for serving the same in both doubles and singles pickleball?

Yes, the rules remain the same. Drop serves and volleys are both acceptable. Just like in doubles pickleball, when a serve is made, the ball must hit the paddle below the waist (navel level).

What is the penalty for a fault in pickleball?

You lose control of the service if you commit a fault while serving. During a receiving game, a fault will result in a point being awarded to your opponent(s).

Can you drop the ball to serve in pickleball?

A serve can be served by dropping (not throwing) the ball onto the ground and allowing it to bounce before being struck.

Conclusion

We are coming to the end of our pickleball singles guide. Do you think you’ll give it a try after hearing our take on it?

 Having played pickleball for years, what advice would you give to those who are interested in trying it for the first time? Let us know what you think via social media. Let us know what you think!

For now, check out sessions at your nearest court next time you want to play singles or doubles.

Also, read Pickleball Memes

Alex jones

about Alex jones

As a freelance writer, I primarily write articles for Pickleball Click. With over 17 years of experience in playing pickleball, I have developed a deep love for this exciting and fast-growing sport.

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