I have seen many beginners nosey to learn scoring methodology. Learning to keep score in pickleball is not tough but not for everybody. Most of the players seem uncertain about scoring during the play, wondering what’s the score is? Don’t get in a fluster, learn the scoring basics first to comprehend the score numbering in pickleball. I know it’s tricky somehow, but I will make it easy for you.
While teaching in person, one of my students gave voice to his frustrations like this, “Sir, I think learning this is more ticklish than grasping the overall game”. Ops! It’s not, learn it by the sequence as I mentioned above firstly, learn scoring basics than rules and numbering. In this article, I will comprehensively guide you on how to keep score in pickleball? Moreover, you will learn scoring rules, points needed to win the game, and the basics of scoring in pickleball.
Basics of Scoring in Pickleball
To have a grip on scoring in pickleball, we need to grasp the scoring basics at our fingertips.
You should know that pickleball is played in singles and doubles both. We had to consider the scoring technique in both terms before going towards them.
I want to assure you of some pickleball scoring rules. The player must know for how many points is pickleball played?
In pickleball, you or your team have to score a maximum of 11 points to win the game. In tournaments, the scores may go from 15 to 21 points.
The tournaments are longer than casual games and to escalate competition among players the points increase from 11 to 21.
You might be thinking that I did not explain how many points to win pickleball?
Take it easy, I will explain everything regarding it. So folks you have to win the game by 2 points after reaching a maximum score of 11 points.
Let me make it easy you will win the game if your points are 2 digits more than the opponent team. For instance, 13/11, and 15/17.
Furthermore, remember that you can only score points if you are serving. Probably, this rule is disappointing for you if you are receiving a team. But you have to work hard to get to the kitchen line first for competing.
Pickleball Doubles Scoring Methodology
Let’s talk about doubles, that simply means I am talking about the team. In pickleball, doubles play consists of four members which means two members in each team.
Now, I will explain how scoring work in doubles:
Serving in Doubles
As you know only the serving team can make the score, now how will you decide which player will be the first server?
According to rules set by Pickleball Officials, the player on the right side of the court will serve first.
If the first player continues to score, he can only win the game. But, if the first server lets the ball hit into the net or makes any other error he cannot serve anymore.
Remember that, during the play the team members can change their positions from each other.
The next turn is for the second player in a team and when the second server makes any fault, the team will be out. This is typically seeing as a “side out”. Now it’s receiving team’s turn to play.
Difference of 2 points is obligatory to win:
Now, when will the game be ended?
When one of the teams scores two more points than the opponent team, it will win the game. For instance, if both teams scored 11-11, one has to score 13 to win the game. Likewise, if both have 10 points, the game will not be ended on the 11th point, one has to score 12.
Pickleball Singles Scoring Methodology
It’s simple and similar to doubles to some extent. In singles play, there is one player on both sides. When the serving player gets out receiving player will serve next.
During coaching, one of my students asked how a single player will select the courtside?
It was a good question indeed. So, the answer is that when the server has an odd score he will serve from the left side, and if even he will serve from the right side.
Scoring Numbers in Pickleball
After a comprehensive discussion on basics and rules, we are moving towards our main motif i.e., scoring system or numbering system.
The scoring system of pickleball is different from other racket sports on the ground. As it’s complicated for most of the new players, I tried my best to make it easy for you by creating a complete background knowledge on serving and receiving teams. First and second servers’ points to win the game and the maximum score in play.
The scoring system of pickleball is based on three digits. For example, 9-7-2. Now, the point of learning is which digit describes receiving team’s score, serving team score and servers.
Let’s explain it:
First Digit of Scoring System
The first number/digit describes the serving team. Remember that the score is call out first for the team which is serving the ball. Here in the example, 9 7 2, 9 is for serving the team.
Second Digit of Scoring System
The score of receiving team or another team rather than the serving team. Now, you may be thinking that the first serving team score will be presented first even if they got the side out.
Don’t mess up these things, let’s put an example here.
If the team of 3.5 skill players is serving first and 4.5 skill players are considered to be receiving team, the score is 5-3-2.
Here, 5 is for 3.5 skill players. If after making faults they got the side out, now 4.5 skill players are serving the ball.
How will be the scoring numbers called out?
It will be like this 3-5-2. The 3.5 skill players will consider as another team or receiving team.
Third Digit of Scoring System
The third integer is for the server of the serving team. It will be 1 if the first server is serving the ball, and 2 if the 2nd server.
How will you know who is the first server in a team?
It’s quite simple, the player standing on the right side of the court will be known as the first server as he first serves the ball.
The player on the left side will be given the chance when the first server gets out and he will play as a second server.
Serving in Singles
Now you might be thinking that how to serve in singles either from even or odd side?
Let me explain with Pickleball rule. If the player score is even then he must serve from right side of the court and also receiver must received in the right/even service court.
What about if the player’s score is odd?
Keeping Track of the Scoring System
If you have thoroughly read above said words it will be interesting for you. Keeping track of scores will not let you detract from your game.
Calling out the score in the game is not an option, it can be ignored in casual plays but not in the tournament.
In the tournament, sometimes the referee is arranged to call out the score, but when he is not available you must call it out and make the audiences understand what’s going on the ground.
How and When to Call out the Serve?
On pickleball court, already there are obstacles regarding noise, so when it’s your turn to call out the score you must call out it loud. Your pitch should be high when calling out the serve.
Secondly, when to call out the serve?
You have to call out the score before serving. Before every service, the server must call out the score as it’s one of the rules. It will not just be easy for the server itself; it will be convenient for everyone to keep track.
Final Thoughts on Pickleball Scoring
It’s obligatory to keep score while playing and it’s a part of your game. I know it is somehow confusing but don’t give up. Concentrate on scoring basics and grasp the numbering sequence set by the officials. While playing the game, confusion on scoring will make you distracted from the game, so, keeping track of the scoring system will let you play well.
If you acknowledge complete background knowledge on what the serving and receiving team is, in what order they play, what the server is, and how scoring works in singles and doubles, then it will not be difficult for you to track out the scoring system. It’s just about practice!
I am Michael Wanner, an experienced and educated expert in the field of pickleball. I hold a degree in Sports Science from Cleveland State University, Ohio, USA. My expertise lies in the technical aspects of pickleball and how to play it effectively. I have spent many years playing and coaching pickleball and have a wealth of knowledge to share with my readers. I am a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their pickleball skills and strategies.