How To Score In Pickleball

Learning how to score for doubles in pickleball probably is the most challenging part of understanding the game which many beginners struggle with. Some well-meaning people have made how to score videos however they miss the crucial part of scoring, which is where you need to stand when the score is called. In a tournament, if you are standing on the incorrect side once your side’s serve has commenced, a fault will be called against your side. The umpire will NOT tell you which side you should be standing on so you need to learn about scores and where to stand.

You also should know how to score correctly and not rely on others to do it for you. You or your partner MUST call the score before you commence your serve or a fault will also be called against your side in a tournament. Call the score loudly so everyone can hear it.

The Score

With pickleball you only earn a point when your side is serving and win the serve or rally. If you are the first server and lose the rally, your partner, the second server then serves. Your partner keeps serving until your side loses the serve or rally , then side over is called and both of your opponents have turns serving. The exception to this rule is for the player that serves first at START (see point 5 below).

What the score means

Scenario of part way through a game and this is the score . . .

4 – 3 – 1

4 = The serving team’s current score
3 = The receiving team’s current score
1 = First server

4 – 3 – 2

4 = The serving team’s current score
3 = The receiving team’s current score
2 = Second server

At side over if the serving team does not win the point, the score would become 3 – 4 – 1

Where to stand to serve or to receive

What is written here is to help beginners understand where they should stand to serve and receive serve. It should be noted that the server and receiver partners can stand anywhere on the court they like which you will notice advanced players do. Example is stacking.

  1. At the beginning of the game the score is called 0-0-2 or 0-0-START so remember which side you are standing on and who is standing diagonally opposite you, no-one else. This is important; it will help you to remember which side you need to stand on for the even or odd score and if your opponents are on the correct sides. If they are not, you are able to tell them to change positions in social play.

    TIP: To help you remember, place an elastic band on your right wrist if you start on the right side, or left wrist if you start on the left side

  2. If you start on the right side (player A), you will always stand on the right side when your score is even – 0,2,4,6,8,10,12 and you will stand on the left side when your score is odd – 1,3,5,7,9,11 to serve and receive the serve.

  3. If you start on the left side (player B), you will always stand on the left side when your score is even – 0,2,4,6,8,10,12 and you will stand on the right side when your score is odd – 1,3,5,7,9,11 to serve and receive the serve.

    N.B: Where you need to stand applies ONLY to the server and receiver, you can move all over the court during play, swapping sides anytime with your partner.

EXAMPLE
Let’s call the starting players A and their partners B for both sides. Player A starts on the right side, player B starts on the left side.

At side over as we always start on the right side, player A will always serve to opposing player A when the score is even for either side. At side over player B will always serve to opposing player B on the right side of the court if the serve is odd for either side.

When it is side over if the score as an example was: 2-2-1, then player A will be server 1 because player A always stands on the right side if the score is even, and the same goes for the opposing player A because their score is even.

If the score at side over was: 3-2-1, then the score is telling me player B will be server 1 because their score is odd and will serve to opposing player A with an even score.

If the score at side over was: 3-3-1, then the score is telling me player B will be server 1 and will server to opposing player B because player B always stands on the right side for odd numbers.

For the change of side, server 1 always serves from the right side first. The score will determine who serves first for side over. See point 2 and point 3 above.

TRUE: Where you need to stand is ONLY at the time of the serve, you can move all over the court during play, swapping sides anytime with your partner.

FALSE: Unfortunately many people believe where you were standing at the end of the rally, is where you stand to serve or receive. This is not correct.

FALSE: Players also believe if you serve first then at side over you are always server 1. This is also not correct.

TRUE: The score determines who will be server 1 and receiver 1 at side over.

At 0-0-START when the side that serves first, only one player will get to serve, hence 0-0-2 is called. If the serving side loses the rally, then it is side over. The score would then be called 0-0-1 before the other side serves. Both players will then get to serve from then on. This is confusing I know and the reason is because the START serving side has an advantage.

Download a hand written pdf here to print out

You are even, your partner is odd . . .

This will often be said to you and other players. Ignore it as it is not helpful. Just remember this:

  1. If you start on the right side (player A), you will always stand on the right side when your score is even – 0,2,4,6,8,10,12 and you will stand on the left side when your score is odd – 1,3,5,7,9,11 to serve and receive the serve .

  2. If you start on the left side (player B), you will always stand on the left side when your score is even – 0,2,4,6,8,10,12 and you will stand on the right side when your score is odd – 1,3,5,7,9,11 to serve and receive the serve .

Unfortunately the rule book is not clearly written when it comes to where you should stand for the serve.
Rule book: 4.B. Player Positions page 19, 4.B.6. page 20

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