Pickleball rules and scoring

A Pickleball court is badminton-sized, and divided into two equal halves by a net. Generally it is played as doubles, but can be played as singles as well. Each player must have a Pickleball Paddle, and the game is played with a special Pickleball ball. Read on to learn about the rules of Pickleball.


To start a game of Pickleball

Each of the 4 players stands in their own quarter of the court.

Serving & the bounce rule

The teams decide which team will serve first. The player on the right hand side of that team (while facing the net) will be the starting server for the match. They always serve first, alternating sides for each serve. The other player will be known as the second server for that match.

The player serves the ball underhand, from below the waist. Just like in tennis, the server must hit the ball diagonally across the net, to land in the diagonally opposite service box. The serve must clear the non-volley zone. The serve should not have spin applied to it in any way (see USA Pickleball Rules 2023).

For the first serve of the match there is no second serve.

The server must call out the current score before they serve. See Pickleball scoring rules below.

If the serve is good

If the serve is good, the receiving team must let the ball bounce before playing it back. And the team who served must let the return bounce before playing it back. After that any ball can be volleyed or played off the bounce.

If the serve is bad

If the serve is faulty, then a second serve is given to the serving team. But unlike in tennis, the second serve is not taken by the player who took the first serve. It’s passed on to the other player in the serving team – the second server. So the second serve will be taken from the left hand side of the court.

Pickleball scoring rules

Pickleball games are played to 11 points, with a two-point advantage required to win. A point can only be scored by the serving team.

The match starts at :


The serving teams score

The receiving teams score

Whether it’s the first or second server

If the serving team wins the first point then the score would be :


Volleys & the no-volley zone

As described above in Pickleball there is a ‘double bounce rule’, which means the serve and the return of serve must bounce before being returned. Any other ball can be volleyed, but in order to volley the ball the volleying player must not have any part of their feet in the non volley zone.

Faults and let calls

Certain actions can result in faults, such as :

  1. Stepping into the non-volley zone during a volley
  2. During serving, when the ball hits the net and still lands in the correct service court
  3. Volleying the return of serve

Tips & Notes

  • It’s important to know that in Pickleball the lines are ‘in’ just like in tennis.
  • For the first serve of the match, there is no second serve. All other serves get a second serve.
  • The serve is always done from the right side when the server’s score is even and from the left side when the server’s score is odd. It is the server’s score that determines the serving position.

So that’s an overview of the rules of Pickleball, including the scoring rules. But if you want to dive into some more details read our focus on the non-volley zone rules.