Scoring in Pickleball Explained – How To Keep Score

Pickleball is a popular sport and the rules of the game can be a little confusing. Pickleball scoring can be even more challenging, especially if you are just starting. As a beginner, players often get overwhelmed by too many rules and the scoring criteria. However, knowing the rules and being able to keep score accurately is an important part of playing pickleball. It is essential for you to master the concept of pickleball scoring if you want to upgrade your pickleball skills. That is why we have created this simple guide to master pickleball scoring. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics to help you ace scoring for pickleball, as well as some tips on how to keep score and some common mistakes to avoid.

Scoring in Pickleball Explained - How To Keep Score

Basics of Pickleball Scoring

A game of pickleball is somewhat scored like tennis, with points awarded to the serving winner of each rally. The first player or team to reach 11 points with a two-point lead is declared the winner.

In pickleball, each point has a value of 1. A game is won by the first player or team to reach 11 points with a two-point lead.

The game ends when one team has won two out of three sets. The first two sets are played to 11 points, and the third set is played to 15 points.

The scoring system in pickleball is set up to reward the server. The server always starts the rally and can win a point by serving an unreturnable shot, or by making the other team miss the ball. If the server wins the rally, they get a point.

The serve alternates between the two players or teams in a singles match, while in doubles matches the serve alternates between the two teams. The server always starts the rally.

Drop Serve for New Players

Traditionally, the server had to serve the ball below the waist and behind the baseline. The serve must be diagonal and must land in the opposite court.

In a singles match, the server must serve the ball to the right side of the court and in a doubles match, the server must serve the ball to the diagonal left side of the court.

However, the updates of rules in 2021 made it clear that players can use the drop serve, but what is it?


In short, drop serve is one of the most popular pickleball scoring options, and for good reason. It’s easy to learn, and easier to understand.

When you drop serve, you serve the ball directly to your opponent – and that’s it! There’s no need to worry about any other complicated rules or formations.

The server can bounce the ball and can also hit it below the waist with an underarm stroke. Therefore it is perfect for players who are just starting.

Plus, because it’s so simple, you won’t miss any opportunities to score pickleball points. So if you’re looking for a fun and challenging way to play pickleball, try drop serve – you won’t regret it!

Scoring and Positioning in Doubles Pickleball

In doubles pickleball, the server always starts the rally and can win a point by serving an unreturnable shot or by making the other team miss the ball.

When the ball is served, the players should be in the correct positions. The server should stand behind the sideline and the other players should be positioned in the front or backcourt.

The score is kept by counting the number of points won by each team. If the serving team wins the rally, they get a point, and the server changes after each point.

double serving in pickleball

However if the receiving team has won the rally, they will not win any points. Instead, they’ll only be rewarded with a serve. So only the serving team is eligible to win a point.

Both teams continue to play until the set ends. Then the team that wins 11 points with a two-point lead is declared the winner.

Scoring the Points in Doubles

It’s simple enough, but scoring pickleball points and keeping a track of them in doubles can be difficult for beginners. That’s where strategy comes in – you need to know when to hit your partner’s ball and when to let it go.

You also need to be aware of your surroundings, so you don’t accidentally hit your partner’s shot while they’re playing defense.

In short, scoring in doubles pickleball is all about skill and timing – make sure you put your skills to use and see if you can win a match!

Positioning of a Player in Doubles Match

According to the pickleball scoring rules, the position of a player (usually the server) is important both in doubles match play and in scoring. The server scores points by hitting the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court.

The position of the server affects how easily and accurately the opponent can return the serve. This way, the scoring of the match is affected to a greater extent.

Serve begins with the player who is positioned on the right or even side of the court. This player has to shoot the ball toward the opposite diagonal court.


Once the point is gained by the serving team and they get to keep the ball, both teammates have to swap their places. There’s another thing to remember;

  • If the score is even, then the serving team will have to use the right or even side of the court.
  • If the score is an odd number, the serving team has to take the left or odd side of the court.

When the Serving team is out of serves, then it’s receiving team’s turn to serve. That’s called “side out”

A side out is declared after one side loses its service and the other side is awarded service.

Overall, position in doubles play is vitally important – it can determine who wins or loses a match. As players make progress and get better acquainted with their playing strengths and weaknesses, they will begin to adjust their positions accordingly.

How to Count Score in Doubles?

In a doubles match of pickleball, the score is kept in three digits i.e. 0-0-0. Here’s what all of the digits show;

  • First Digit: Score of the serving team
  • Second Digit: Score of the opposing team
  • Third Digit: Server number

Let’s understand these scoring numbers with an example. Let’s say the score of a doubles match is 5-8-1.

In this case, 5 is the score of the serving team, and 8 is the score of the opposing or receiving team. Lastly, 1 is the server number.

The server number can be either 1 or 2 and shows the person who served the ball so that there would be no confusion.

Read more:Why Starting Score of a Doubles Pickleball Game Is Always 0-0-2?

Tips to Remember the Scoring Order

It can be difficult to remember the order and scoring rules for pickleball, especially when the rallies are fast-paced. For keeping score in pickleball, it can be helpful to use the phrase, ‘Me, You, Who’. Here’s how it works;

  • Me – Announce your score first if you were a serving team. Otherwise, announce your score in the second turn.
  • You – Secondly, announce the score of the receiving team/player. However, if the other team/player has served, then announce their score first.
  • Who – Announce the server number. If your partner has served then you would be considered the second server.

This phrase can help you remember the order of the scoring in pickleball. In addition to this, you can also use useful tools like a pickleball scorekeeper to help keep track of the score during the game. We have discussed this topic in further detail below. But let’s try to understand it better through an example.

If you are on the serving team, then you must remember the score as 7-6-1. Here 7 is your score, 6 is your opponent’s, and 1 is the server number.

However, if you were the recipient team, remember this score as 6-7-1. Remember that 6 is the score of your opponent, and 7 is your score.

First Server Exception Rule in Doubles

According to USAPA Basics Scoring & Position:

  • *First Server Exception*: To minimize the advantage of being the first team to serve in the game, only one player, the one on the right side, gets to serve on the first service turn of the game. Since the serve goes to the other side when that player loses the serve, that player is designated as the second server. Therefore, at the start of the game, the score should be called, “0-0-2.” The “2” indicates the second server and means that the serve goes to the other side when the serve is lost.

Scoring and Positioning in Singles Pickleball

Scoring pickleball points in singles is quite similar to doubles. For instance, only the server has the right to score points, while the recipient can only win a serve.

However, the only difference is that there is no second server in the singles match.  Thus, both opponents get the chance to play the server.

The counting system of a singles match varies from the system of the doubles. For pickleball singles scoring, only two numbers are used to count the score.

single serving in pickleball

Since there are no two servers in a team, there is no need to add that additional number to the category. The second digit then gives the score of the recipient player. If you’re only familiar with doubles, you might get confused.

Let’s say you hear the score 5-3 in a singles match. Now 5 is the score of the server and 3 is the score of the recipient player.

The server has to service serve from the right side of the court when their score is even and from the left side when the score is in odd numbers.

Here are Some Tips For Keeping Track of Your Score

Although you can use the method of ‘Me, You, Who’ to remember the score, it can also be confusing sometimes. Therefore, we are about to provide some tips that will help you to keep track of your score.

Call Out the Score Before Serving

If you’re looking to have a great time at your next pickleball game, it’s important to call out the score before serving.

It is okay to not take this step in an ordinary or recreational pickleball game. But it would be illegal if you don’t call out the score before each service in a tournament or while playing a professional match.

Let’s say there’s a doubles match going on; since four people are playing, it might get difficult to keep track of the score. Therefore each server must take the responsibility of calling out the score.

If you are the server, in this case, you would call out the score. It would also be easy for your teammate and opponent players to get a hold of the current score.

This way, everyone is on the same page and the game can be played in a more organized and efficient atmosphere.

Memorize the Position of the First Server

Memorize the first server to keep a track of the score! The first server is always positioned on the right or even side of the court. So whoever makes the first shot will be an even player.

Whenever this even player is on the right side of the court, that team will always have an even score.

Let’s consider two players of a team who are named X and Y. You note that X is the first server of the team. Therefore X will be now called the even player.

From now on, whenever X is on the right side of the court, it will always be an even score for that team.

Keep in Check With the Referee

Having a referee is not common in a pickleball game unless you are playing a pro match or a tournament. If you don’t have any referee, then use the tricks we mentioned earlier to keep a track of the score.

However, if you have a referee, then you can keep in check with them. You still have to call out the score before each service, but in case you forget the score, you can always rely on the referee.

Questions you can ask the referee:

  • What is the score?
  • Who is the correct server?
  • Who is the correct receiver?
  • Are we in the correct position?

Wrong Scores and What Happens in Pickleball?

Many picklers may wonder what to do if a player or an official mistakenly calls the wrong score. This problem arises due to the swift nature of play and the human ability to make mistakes.

In this scenario, it is a no-brainer that the score has to be changed immediately, even if play has begun.

Any human error in pickleball is inevitable, and neither the referees nor players of the sport can always make correct decisions when calling out the score of a game.

In response to this possibility, the rules of pickleball scoring specify how to respond to an incorrect score.

  • After the third shot, the game will not stop. However, this matter will be resolved after the rally has been played. When the server or referee calls an incorrect score, play must continue until the completion of the rally, with one team scoring a point or committing a foul.
  • However, the rally will be stopped when the wrong score is deducted before the third shot. In this case, the score will be corrected and the serve is replayed without paying any penalty.
  • A player who requests a score correction before returning the service will be penalized if the score was correct, and their side will be debited if the game was stopped on account of an incorrect score.


What is the Starting Score of a Doubles Pickleball?

The starting pickleball doubles scoring is 0-0-2. This means that there are zero scores for both teams. Here 2 represents the server number. According to the first server exception rule of USAPA, only the even player of the serving team has the right to make the serve.

What is the Max Score in Pickleball?

Normally, a pickleball game is played for up to 11 points. Each team has to win the game with a two-point lead. But sometimes, games of 15 or 21 points can also be played.

What are the 3 Numbers Included in a Pickleball Score?

Normally, a pickleball game is played for up to 11 points. Each team has to win the game with a two-point lead. But sometimes, games of 15 or 21 points can also be played.

How Does Pickleball Scoring Work?

The score is based on the points, which is 11 in a normal game. The points are always gained by the serving team. However, if the serving team makes any fault, the reception team will only be awarded a serve.

Summarizing the Topic

To summarize, the max score is usually 11 and the winner must have a lead of more than two points. Only the serving team can win a point. However, the reception team will be awarded service in case of the opponent’s fault.

We hope that you can uplift your scoring game after reading this article and ace your next game!

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