How does pickleball scoring work?

A primer on how points are scored in pickleball. Covers terms like serves, points, and faults. Also includes an explanation of what's shown on a scoreboard.

15 July, 2023 Sport scoring



Pickleball is an increasingly popular sport, combining elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. While the game itself is easy to learn, understanding how scoring works can be a bit tricky for beginners. In this article, we'll look at the basics of pickleball scoring, and give you all the information you need to understand how it works.

A pickleball court seen from above

The basic aim in pickleball is to hit the ball over the net, landing it within the opponent's court.

What equipment do I require?

To play pickleball, you will need some essential gear:

Paddle: Pickleball paddles are smaller than tennis rackets but larger than ping-pong paddles. They are typically made from wood, graphite, or composite materials.

Ball: The pickleball is similar to a wiffle ball but is slightly smaller. It's designed with numerous holes that allow it to travel through the air.

Net: A pickleball net is required to divide the court into two equal halves. The net is 22 feet long and must hang at a height of 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle.

On what court is pickleball played?

Pickleball is typically played on a court that is similar in size to a doubles badminton court. The standard size is 20 feet wide by 44 feet long. The court is divided into two halves by a net, and each half is further divided into two sections: the "service" area and the "non-volley" zone or "kitchen".

A pickleball court seen from above

The service areas are located towards the back of each court half and are where players must serve from. The non-volley zone is the seven-foot area on both sides of the net where volleying (hitting the ball before it bounces) is not permitted.

Pickleball courts can be laid out on any flat, hard surface. Many tennis courts, particularly those at public parks, are also striped for pickleball. Indoor courts can be found in gymnasiums, recreation centers, and even in large indoor commercial facilities dedicated solely to pickleball. Many players also create their own courts in their driveways or backyards.


Serving is done diagonally, and only the serving side can score points. At the start of the game, the player on the right side (even side) of the court serves first. If the serving team scores a point, the server moves to the odd side and continues to serve until a fault occurs. When a fault occurs, the serve passes to the other team.

How to score in pickleball

4 people playing a game of Pickleball

Points are scored as follows:

  1. The server serves the ball by hitting it to the diagonal square on the opponent's side.
  2. If the ball lands in the square and the opposing team is unable to return it, the serving team scores a point.
  3. The serving side will continue to serve and could potentially score more points until a fault occurs. A fault could be a missed ball, a ball hit out of bounds, or a ball that does not bounce once before being returned (except on the serve).
  4. If a fault occurs, the serve passes to the other team and they have an opportunity to score points.

The game continues until one side reaches a score of 11 and is at least 2 points ahead. If the game reaches a score of 10-10, play continues until one side has a 2-point lead.

What is shown on a pickleball scoreboard?

The specifics can vary depending on the complexity of the scoreboard, but generally, they will include the following:

Team Names/Logos: The names or logos of the home and visiting teams.

Points: The number of points each team has scored.

Server Indicator: An indicator showing which team is currently serving.

Faults: The number of faults committed by each team.

More advanced scoreboards may show additional statistics, such as the number of games won (in a match), player or team stats, and other game-specific statistics. They may also display messages, player photos, replays, advertisements, and other information on a digital display.

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Do you have further questions or comments about tennis scoring? Let us know in the comments below!