how to score pickleball

How to Score Pickleball: A Comprehensive Guide

Pickleball is a fast-paced and exciting game that is enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, understanding how to score the game correctly is essential to playing and enjoying the game to the fullest.

In this article, we will take a look at the rules and basics of scoring in pickleball, including the official rules of pickleball and how to keep score, as well as some frequently asked questions about scoring.

Let’s get started!

Understanding the Basics of Pickleball Scoring

Before we dive into the official rules of pickleball scoring, let’s review some of the basics of scoring in pickleball.

At the most fundamental level, pickleball is a game played between two teams of two players each. The objective of the game is to hit the ball over the net and into the opposing team’s court without them being able to return it. Points are awarded to the serving team when the opposing team faults, or fails to return the ball properly, and a game is played to 11 points, winning by two.

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Now let’s take a closer look at some of the official rules of pickleball.

The Official Rules of Pickleball Scoring

The official rules of pickleball are defined by USA Pickleball, the governing body for the sport of pickleball in the United States. While there are some regional and informal variations on these rules, they are generally accepted across the country and are included in most major tournaments.

Here are the basic rules of pickleball scoring:


Points are scored only by the serving team, and the first team to reach 11 points, with a two-point lead, wins the game. If the score is tied at 10 points apiece, play continues until one team achieves a two-point lead.

Service and Return of Service

The serve is always made from behind the baseline and must be made diagonally to the opposite service court. It is important to note that the serve must be underhand, and the paddle must make contact with the ball below the waist.

The serve is returned by the opposing team, and play continues until one team faults or is unable to return the ball over the net into their opponent’s court.

If a serve is not returned, it is considered an “ace” and the serving team is awarded one point. If the serve is returned successfully, the point is awarded to the team that wins the rally, or the team that successfully returns the ball over the net and into their opponent’s court.

Scoring Errors

It is important to note that errors in scoring can occur, and it is the responsibility of both teams to keep accurate and honest score. If an error in scoring is made, it should be corrected as soon as possible, and both teams should agree on the correct score before continuing play.

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Players should also be aware that intentional cheating or unsportsmanlike conduct is not allowed in the game of pickleball and can result in disqualification or other penalties.

Keeping Score

The traditional method of keeping score in pickleball is to use a chalkboard or other type of scoreboard to mark the points awarded to each team. However, many players use a hand signal system to keep track of the score, with each hand representing a different digit from 0-9.

For example, if the serving team has 4 points, they would signal this by holding up four fingers on one hand. If the opposing team has 7 points, they would signal this by holding up seven fingers on the other hand.

As the game progresses, players can easily check the score by looking at their own and their opponent’s hand signals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pickleball Scoring

Now that we have covered the basics of scoring in pickleball, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about the game and how it is scored.

Q: Can you score points when you are not serving?

A: No. In pickleball, points are only awarded to the serving team.

Q: What happens if the ball hits the net on a serve?

A: If the ball hits the net on a serve, but still lands in the correct service court, it is considered a “let serve” and can be re-served without penalty. If the ball hits the net and does not land in the correct service court, it is considered a fault and the opposing team is awarded a point.

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Q: Can you hit the ball out of the air?

A: Yes. In pickleball, players are allowed to hit the ball out of the air (known as a “volley”) as long as they are not standing in the “non-volley zone,” a seven-foot area near the net where volleys are not allowed.

Q: Can you touch the net during play?

A: No. Players are not allowed to touch the net at any time during play, except in the case of a ball that hits the net and stays in play.

Q: How does the serve change hands?

A: The serve changes hands after each point is awarded. The player who served first in the game will serve again when their team reaches an even number of points (i.e. 2, 4, 6, etc.).


Scoring in pickleball is an essential part of playing the game and enjoying it to the fullest. By understanding the official rules of pickleball scoring and keeping accurate and honest score, players can ensure a fair and competitive game for all involved.

Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out, we hope this guide has been helpful in demystifying the rules and basics of pickleball scoring. So gather your paddles and hit the courts, and remember to have fun and play hard!

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