In this article, we’ll discuss how you can keep score in a game of pickleball. We’ll explore the different methods used and explain how to use each one. You’ll learn about the traditional scoring system as well as alternative methods like rally scoring. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to keep score in a game of pickleball and can enjoy playing with confidence. Pickleball is a popular sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is played on a smaller court with a solid paddle and a perforated plastic ball. Like any other sport, it is essential to understand the scoring system in pickleball before you jump into a game. In this article, we will cover the basic rules of pickleball scoring, serving and receiving rules, common mistakes in scoring, scoring tips and strategies, advanced scoring techniques, scoring etiquette, and conclude with some final thoughts. So let’s get started!

How Do I Keep Score In A Game Of Pickleball

Understanding the Scoring System

In pickleball, the scoring system is unique and straightforward. The game is typically played to 11 points, and the winning team must win by two points. However, some variations of the game are played to 15 or 21 points. Regardless of the point limit, each point is earned on every serve.

Serving and Receiving Rules

To start a game of pickleball, a coin flip determines which team will serve first. The serving team must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball diagonally crosscourt to the opponent’s service box. The serve must be underhand, with the ball contacting below the waist. If the serve goes into the net or out of bounds, it results in a fault, and the receiving team earns a point.

The receiving team must let the serve bounce once before returning it. After that, both teams can either volley the ball (hitting it in the air without letting it bounce) or play it off a bounce. The play continues until a fault or a point is scored.

How Do I Keep Score In A Game Of Pickleball

Scoring in Pickleball

When it comes to scoring in pickleball, there are two main variations: scoring in singles and scoring in doubles.

Scoring in Singles

In singles pickleball, the serving and scoring rules are the same as in doubles. The only difference is that the server will only get one chance to serve, and if they fault on their serve, the opponent will earn a point.

Scoring in Doubles

In doubles pickleball, the serving team has two chances to serve. If they fault on their first serve, they get a second chance. However, if they fault on both serves, the receiving team earns a point and the service switches to them.

Understanding Points

To earn points in pickleball, you must secure a sideout or win a rally. A sideout occurs when the serving team fails to score a point, resulting in their loss of serve. Winning a rally happens when a team successfully returns the ball until the other team commits an error or fails to return the ball within the boundaries of the court.

How to Earn Points

Points can be earned in pickleball in various ways. The most common ways to earn points include:

  1. Opponent’s fault: If the opposing team fails to return the ball within the boundaries or hits it into the net, you are awarded a point.
  2. Ace: When you serve the ball, and it lands directly in the opponent’s service box without them touching it, you score an ace and earn a point.
  3. Rally: If you and your partner successfully return the ball and force the opposing team to commit an error, such as hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net, you earn a point.

Winning a Game

To win a game of pickleball, you must reach the predetermined point limit (usually 11, 15, or 21) while maintaining a lead of at least two points. If both teams reach the point limit simultaneously, the game continues until one team has a two-point lead. This is known as a “win by two” rule.

How Do I Keep Score In A Game Of Pickleball

Counting Points

Now that you understand how points are earned in pickleball, let’s discuss how to keep track of those points.

Using a Scorecard

One way to keep score in pickleball is by using a scorecard. A scorecard is a simple piece of paper or a board with designated sections to mark each team’s score. At the beginning of the game, both teams should agree on who will keep score and ensure they update the score after each rally.

Physical Scoring System

Alternatively, you can use a physical scoring system consisting of numbered discs or beads attached to a frame. Each team has their set of numbered discs, and you move them back and forth to indicate the score. Some physical scoring systems come with a built-in mechanism to rotate to indicate which team is serving.

Scoring Examples

To further illustrate how scoring works in pickleball, let’s go through a couple of scoring examples.

Example 1: Singles Game

In a singles game of pickleball, your opponent is serving, and the score is 3-2. After a long rally, your opponent hits the ball out of bounds. This means you have won the rally and earned a point, bringing the score to 3-3. Since the point limit is typically 11, you still have a long way to go before reaching the win.

Example 2: Doubles Game

In a doubles game of pickleball, your partner is serving, and the score is 10-9 in your favor. Your partner serves the ball, and the opposing team fails to return it, resulting in a fault. As a result, your team earns a point, bringing the score to 11-9. Since you now have a lead of two points and have reached the point limit, you have won the game!

How Do I Keep Score In A Game Of Pickleball

Common Mistakes in Scoring

While keeping score in pickleball may seem simple, there are a few common mistakes that players often make.

Miscounting Points

The most common mistake in scoring is miscounting points. This can happen due to distractions, lack of attention, or confusion during intense rallies. To avoid this, it is crucial to stay focused, pay attention to each point, and update the score after every rally.

Forgetting to Switch Sides

Another common mistake is forgetting to switch sides after the first game. In pickleball, players switch sides after every game to ensure fairness. It is the responsibility of the serving team to remember to switch sides and start the next game from the opposite court.

Scoring Tips and Strategies

To improve your scoring ability in pickleball, consider the following tips and strategies:

Staying Focused

Pickleball is a fast-paced game, and it is important to stay focused throughout the match. By paying close attention to the score and each rally, you can avoid miscounting points and maintain a strategic mindset.

Keeping Track of Points

Whether you use a scorecard or a physical scoring system, make it a habit to update the score after every rally. By doing so, you ensure accuracy and prevent potential disputes or confusion during the game.

How Do I Keep Score In A Game Of Pickleball

Advanced Scoring Techniques

As you become more experienced in pickleball, you may want to consider incorporating advanced scoring techniques into your gameplay.

Adding Handicap Points

Handicap points can be used to level the playing field when players of different skill levels compete against each other. By awarding the less experienced player additional points at the beginning of the game, the game becomes more challenging and engaging for both players.

Playing a Tiebreaker

In some instances, a game of pickleball may end in a tie. To determine the winner, a tiebreaker is played. The tiebreaker is typically played to seven points, and the team that reaches seven points first, while maintaining a two-point lead, wins the tiebreaker and ultimately the game.

Scoring Etiquette

In addition to understanding the scoring system, it is important to practice good sportsmanship and show respect towards your opponents on the pickleball court.

Good Sportsmanship

Pickleball is a friendly and social game, and maintaining good sportsmanship is essential. This includes congratulating your opponents on good shots, avoiding arguments or disputes over points, and gracefully accepting victories or defeats.

Respecting the Opponents

Always remember to show respect towards your opponents, regardless of the outcome of the game. Be courteous, encourage fair play, and acknowledge good shots made by your opponents. Remember, pickleball is a game meant to be enjoyed by all participants.


Keeping score in a game of pickleball is a fundamental aspect of the sport. By understanding the scoring system, serving and receiving rules, counting points accurately, avoiding common mistakes, and practicing good sportsmanship, you can fully enjoy the game and continue to improve your skills. So grab a paddle, find a court, and get ready to have a blast playing pickleball while keeping score like a pro!

By CallieSports

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