Chapter 2

Pickleball Scoring

Score! How to Keep Score in Pickleball

Keeping score in pickleball is easy once you get the hang of it. Once you understand these basics, you’ll be calling out scores with ease.

Pickleball Mastery

You can only score on points where your side serves. You don’t win any points if the other side serves and faults. The score doesn’t change in that case, but the next person in the service rotation will serve the ball.

Pickleball Mastery

The server should call out the score before each serve. This announcement of the score ensures everyone is keeping track of the score and on the same page. The score in doubles play consists of three numbers.

The first number is the serving team’s score. The second number is the receiving team’s score. And the final number makes it clear which player is serving. Because each team gets two sets of serves—one for each player—before the serve goes to the other team, this third number makes it clear whether the serving team is on their first or second server. Consequently, this number will always be one or two.

“5-2-1.” That would mean the serving team has five points, the receiving team has two, and the serving team is on their first of two servers. If the serving team wins the point, the next call would be “6-2-1”. Because they won the point, the serving team’s score is now six, the other side’s score remains two, and the serving team’s first player continues to serve. If they lose, the next player on that team serves and would call out “6-2-2”. The points don’t change because the receiving team can’t score points, but the server changes from Player One to Player Two.

Pickleball Mastery

For the opening serve, the team only gets one round of serves before the serve changes sides. For that reason, the third number in the score would be “two”, to indicate that after that serve, the current serving side is finished, and the other side will get the opportunity to serve. So the first score call of the match, before the opening serve, is “0-0-2”.

Pickleball Scoring

Remember that while the magic number to win is 11, you must win by at least two points. No matter the score, you keep playing until one team is ahead by two points. That means that after 10-10-2, if the serving team wins, the game doesn’t end. The score would then be 11-10-2 because the serving team won the point, the receiving team’s score remains the same, and the same player—the second server on the current team—keeps the serve. If they lose, then it would be 10-11-1. The serve switches to the other team, which means the order of the first two numbers changes since the first number called is always the serving team’s score.

One of the most exciting parts of the game is when teams are evenly matched, both with their skill levels and pickleball strategy. The game can become an epic battle for those two points needed to win. Some games end at 11 points, but when neither team dominates the other, you can see scores that go into the 20s or beyond.

So, a quick recap:

  • You only score on points you serve.
  • Announce the score–with three numbers–before each serve.
  • The score includes your score, the receiving team’s score, and whether you are on your first or second server in the rotation.
  • First to 11 points wins, as long as they are ahead by two or more.

That’s it. Now you know the basics of pickleball scoring. Grab your beginner pickleball set and hit the court.