How To Score In Pickleball And Keep Track!

Alex Jones

A pickleball game is filled with jokes, expressions and hilarious wordplay. The joke about learning how to score in pickleball is a funny one that is also kind of true. Despite the fact that it’s not true, sometimes it certainly seems like it!

I will explain everything you need to know about pickleball scoring in this article. The numbers mean a lot, and I’ll explain how to do it without getting lost!

The question of how to keep score in pickleball is one of the most common ones asked by beginning pickleball players. Keeping score as a beginner can be challenging, but once you understand the basics, you’ll be able to do it effortlessly. 

Pickleball Scoring Basics:

How To Score In Pickleball

The five basic scoring rules of pickleball are as follows: 

  • A best-of-three format is used in matches. 
  • There are 11 points in each game, but the winner must win by two points or more. 
  • When you serve, you can only score with traditional scoring
  • Each serve must be preceded by a verbal score call
  • Singles scores are composed of two numbers, while doubles scores are composed of three numbers

We’ll dive deeper into each rule so you can start mastering the score now that you know the basics.

How does scoring work in doubles pickleball?

How To Score In Pickleball

The basic rules of pickleball are as follows: there are 11 points in each game. In tournaments, it can sometimes reach 15 points. Your team can only score a point when it is serving, and when it does, both players change positions. The game must also be won by two points. That’s all there is to it.

Let me explain some basic pickleball rules before we get to scoring. Serving is the first element we need to discuss.

In pickleball, scoring is not the same as rally scoring. Check out this great article about rally scoring if you’re interested in learning more.

Serving in pickleball

Pickleball allows you to score points only when your team is serving. The word “team” is capitalized. It’s right, each team member gets a chance to serve. How does that work?

Serving always starts with the player on the right side of the court when your team is serving.

It’s always there.

If it’s your turn to serve, you’ll know who will serve first thanks to this system. Therefore, it is the person on the right who holds the first server and the person on the left who holds the second server when viewed in this manner.

The order doesn’t follow that order, however. The other team does not serve after the first team serves twice. If a player’s team scores a point, he or she can keep serving. The game can be won with just one person serving if you reach 11 points. In the event your team makes a fault or you hit the ball into the net while serving? You now have the opportunity to serve your partner. The second server is then that player.

Whenever he makes a mistake, you are out of serves! The term “side out” refers to the situation where your side has run out of serves, and it is now the opponent’s turn to serve.

Additionally, your team switches places with your partner when it scores a point (remember, it can only score when serving).

I want to mention this rule because it’s crucial to keeping track of your score in pickleball. I’ll tell you more about that later!

Win by two!

Pickleball requires you to win by two points or more. This rule does not apply to any exceptions. Getting to 11 points won’t suffice if the game is playing to 11 points and the score is 10-10. In order to gain two points over your opponent, you must go to 12. Then you are automatically the winner. The spread can be reached at any time until two points are spread.

It’s time to talk numbers

How To Score In Pickleball

We’re going to add in some numbers now that you know how pickleball serves. Unlike other racket sports, scoring numbers work differently here. There can be quite a bit of confusion when it comes to the score. The score of a pickleball game is often the subject of more debate than the call of a line. To give you an idea of what a score might look like, here’s an example:

For those who are familiar with pickleball, this will be no surprise. It’s probably the most confusing thing you’ve ever experienced in your life if you’re not. My heart goes out to you. Pickleball scoring has never made sense to me until I explained it to people in person, and they looked at me like I had fun-sized Snickers bars dancing in my hair.

It’s kind of annoying to have Snickers bars dance in your hair, isn’t it? Let me provide you with a rundown of the numbers in order to avoid this.

How do the scoring numbers relate to each other?

The process is as follows:

How To Score In Pickleball

A serving team’s score is shown on the left. It will not always be your score because it is the serving team’s score! From the perspective of the serving team, the middle number represents the other team’s score. Finally, the last number indicates the serving team’s first or second server.

Whenever scores are called, the team that serves the ball will receive the score first, followed by the opposing team and then the server.

Take a look at this image:

How To Score In Pickleball

There are two scenarios shown above, one in which your team serves and one in which the opposing team serves. Whenever it’s your team’s turn to serve, you can see the score is 4-3-1 because your team has four points and your opponent has three.

On the other hand, the second pane shows the opposite. The next serve is up to your opponent. This game is 3-4-1, with the right side player serving. The score of the ones serving comes first because they’re the ones who serve.

The third number

Recall how we discussed every team getting two serves each, one for each player? The number on the far right refers to that. If side out is called and your team is about to serve, then the player on the right side of your court will serve first. Since he is the first server of your turn, the score will end with “1”, symbolizing the start of your turn.

After scoring a few points, your team could mess up. Okay, now it’s your partner’s turn to serve, so you scored a few points. A fault on the part of your partner will result in the serve going to the opponent as it will be “side out” now.

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Taking a closer look at an example

How To Score In Pickleball

The best thing about pickleball is starting a new game. There is an odd thing I need to clarify before we get started with this example. In the beginning of the match, each team will have one serve. The reason I don’t understand is that it’s one of these things you must remember.

As a result, the person on the right always serves first when the game begins. As most people say, 0-0-start is the score of the match. During the first half of the match, this only happens to the home team.

Let’s take a look at an example. Consider that you are the one who starts the game in this example. 0-0-2 is the score, or 0-0-start. Your opponent completely misses your serve over the net. Point! As soon as your team gets a point, you and your partner switch places. As follows:

Nice! There is now a 1-0-2 score or a 1-0-start score. Due to the fact that you served and scored, you get a second chance to serve. This time, however, you hit it straight into the net. I guess it happens sometimes. It’s something I’ve done as well. It’s now your opponent’s turn to serve since you’re the second server. What is the score? Can you guess it?

Since your opponent is the first server, the score is now 0-1-1. It’s now his partner’s turn to serve the ball, just like you did. Due to the fact that he is the second server, the score is now 0-1-2. Attempting to return serve, he serves the ball, but it goes straight into the net. They get a point for that. We now have a 1-1-2 score.

Your partner cannot reach the ball when your partner serves the ball again. They’ve gained another point. Now the score is 2-1-2. After serving again, the ball falls into the kitchen after hitting the top of the net. It’s a fault and a side out!

It’s time for your team to serve. How did the game turn out? The answer is 1-2-1 if you guessed it correctly. In the first serve, your team has one point, their team has two points, and they have one point.

In your mind, come up with these examples

In order to improve your scoring skills, pickleball is the best sport to play. These examples can also be created by you, as I did above. In addition to helping you understand how scoring works, playing these out in your head is kind of fun. You’ll get used to scoring in pickleball as you play, but it can take time to learn.

However, scoring is often a source of confusion, as it was at the beginning. Our next topic is going to be that.

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How to keep track of the score

How To Score In Pickleball

Things start to get interesting here. There are times when picking up a pickleball game seems impossible. However, there’s a neat trick to it. It’s a good thing this trick exists! We’ll get to the trick, but first let’s discuss something.

When you serve, announce the score!

It is easy to lose track of the score when the serve is not called out. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Despite this, a surprising number of people fail to call out the serve when they play.

In the first place, it’s actually against the rules. Recreational play doesn’t matter, but in tournaments without a referee, it is a big deal. The ball will be ruled a fault if you fail to call out the serve before hitting it.

It’s also a matter of common courtesy. Having the serve called out helps the other three people on the court stay on top of things. When a game is near its end, this is especially true. It is possible for your strategy to change drastically if you are about to lose to the opposing team. In the absence of knowing it, you may be at a disadvantage.

Every time you serve, make sure you rip out that score.

Trickier than you think

This is how you keep track of the score in pickleball. Pickleball players will always be considered “even” players when they start the game on the right side of the court. As a result, they will always have a tied score whenever they are on the right side of the court.

While it may seem complicated at first, it is an extremely efficient system that works flawlessly once you put it into practice. You can do it this way.

Identify who is on each team’s right side at the beginning of the game.

Take a moment to imagine that you are standing on the right side of the court. Could you please explain what this means? This means that you are our even-numbered player. The result of this is that your team’s score will always be even whenever you are on the right side of the court.

Whenever possible! You don’t need to be in the military to serve.

That’s the key. Consider playing out the scenario mentally or drawing out a court. There will never be a problem with it.

Since your partner started on the left side of the court, whenever he’s on the right side, your team’s score would be odd. Do you understand? The score will never be lost again if you use this trick.

How do you win a pickleball game? 

Players or teams usually win pickleball matches in a best-of-three format, in which the player or team who wins two games wins. In major tournaments such as the PPA Tour, championship matches are contested over three out of five matches. 

A match consists of 11 games, but there’s a catch – the team that wins by the most points wins. If the game becomes tied at 10-10 or higher, the game can go beyond 11 points. 

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Traditional vs. rally scoring: When do you score a point in pickleball?

How To Score In Pickleball

Traditionally, pickleball points are earned by serving or receiving. You or your teammate will lose the serve if you or they commit a fault, or error, while serving.

As part of rally scoring, each rally is awarded a point regardless of which team served the ball. As a result, the game moves more quickly, since you can score on offense as well as defense. 

What are serving numbers in pickleball? 

We should first clarify the concept of serving order before discussing the 1 and 2 serving systems. It is not necessary to remember the server number in singles since each side of the court has only one player. 

Unlike singles, doubles consist of two players, who each serve before a side-out occurs. In a side-out, your opponent takes possession of the serving. 

Following a side-out, service is always initiated by the player placed on the right side of the court. Server 1 is the player on the right side of the court, and Server 2 is the player on the left side. A Selkirk pro is Server 1 in the below image, and a Selkirk pro is Server 2 in the below image.

In the event that the serving team continues to win points, Server 1 will alternate serving positions from right to left. The right side of the court will be served by Server 1 when the serving team’s score is even. It is Server 1’s responsibility to serve from the left side of the court when there is an odd score. 

The two-serve rule does not apply at the beginning of each game when the team beginning with service will serve once. First service is handled by Server 2, who stands on the right side of the court. A side-out occurs when the serving team fails to win a point, resulting in the two-serve rule. 

Even though you are allowed to begin the game as Server 1, you cannot remain as Server 1 throughout the game. Server 1, for example, will move to the left side of the court and serve after winning a point. 

Server 2 now stands on the right side of the court if you and your partner fault out. The next time you fault out, you will be awarded a side-out, and your opponents will serve. As the new left-side player, you will be designated Server 2 when your team receives service again. 

Check out this video on serving rules from professional pickleball official Maddie Toren to see how the serving changes work in action.

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How to score in singles pickleball

How To Score In Pickleball

There is no difference in scoring between singles and doubles pickleball. You can use all of the tricks I showed you to keep track of your score in the same way. Only when “side out” is called is there a difference.

It is usual for the ball to be passed to the opposing player when the player loses a serve. Regardless of whether their score is even or odd, the server will choose a side. 

That’s all there is to it.

Hence, if you’re an odd score in singles, you’ll serve on the left side and if you’re an even score, you’ll serve on the right.

What are the three numbers in a pickleball score? 

How To Score In Pickleball

In addition to the serving team’s score, you might have also noticed three numbers before the score, such as 4-3-2 or 7-4-1. A server’s position in the rotation is represented by these numbers. 

It shows the score of the serving team, the score of the receiving team, and the current serving player on the serving team. 

The current server has seven points for the serving team, four points for the receiving team, and four points for the receiving team. 

Do you have to call a pickleball score out loud? 

It’s not necessary to call the score out loud when not playing in a tournament, but it’s usually a good idea. 

USA Pickleball’s official rulebook (4.A.1) specifies that the score must be called prior to serving in tournaments. Generally, a fault is awarded if the score is not called before serving. 

The serving team calls their score first, followed by their opponent’s score, and finally their rotation server. The service call would be 8-4-2 if you had 8 points, your opponent had 4, and you were Server 2. 

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Is there a limit to how many points can be scored in a single rally in pickleball?

During a rally, you can score as many points as you like. The serving side can accumulate points as long as it continues to win rallies.

Can you explain the concept of the “kitchen” in pickleball?

Generally, the “kitchen” refers to the seven-foot area adjacent to the net that is not used for volleyball. Unless the ball bounces first, you cannot hit the ball in the air in pickleball while standing in the non-volley zone.

Are there specific strategies for serving in pickleball to maximize your chances of scoring?

Pickleball scoring relies heavily on serving. To catch your opponents off guard, you can use a short serve or a deep serve to push them back.

How can I practice the third-shot drop technique in pickleball?

If you want to practice the third-shot drop, practice soft, controlled shots that land in the non-volley zone. Precision and finesse are required for this technique.

What is the significance of winning the game in pickleball by a minimum lead of 2 points?

It is important to win by at least two points in order for the game to be fair and competitive. An element of suspense is added to the match as well as preventing the game from ending too quickly.


You can greatly improve your performance in pickleball by mastering the art of scoring. You can increase your chances of winning and enjoy the game more if you understand the rules, practice your serves, and employ effective strategies.

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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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