“Let’s play cutthroat,” said the dude in the high socks, neon sneakers and Fila pickleball visor.
“Uh, sure,” I replied.
I then braced for impact. Was this dude gonna charge at me?
It was at this moment I was introduced to Australian Doubles, also known as Cutthroat, a popular pickleball variation that is perfect when you only have three players. The innovative game keeps everyone engaged when you are short one player and brings out players’ competitive sides. Learn how it works and why you should add it to your next pickleball outing.
What Is Australian Doubles Pickleball?
Australian Doubles is a fast-paced pickleball game played with three people on a standard-sized court. The court is divided lengthwise, with one player serving from one side and a team of 2 covering the other side. Players rotate positions after each point. Scoring only occurs when the solo player is serving. Creativity, endurance, and skill are tested as players constantly switch roles.
How to Play Australian Doubles
- Split the court down the middle lengthwise into 2 halves
- 1 player serves from the right or left side
- A team of 2 players covers the opposite half
Serving and Scoring
- Each player takes turns serving from their side
- The solo player gets two lost rallies before a “side out”
- Only the solo player can score points on their serve
- First to 11 points wins
- After each point, players rotate positions clockwise
- The server switches to the team, the team splits up, etc.
- Rotation keeps the game moving quickly
Why Play Australian Doubles?
Constantly Shifting Dynamics
- Excitement of frequently changing teammates and opponents
- Allows you to play both singles and doubles
- Tests skills as both a solo player and a cohesive team
- Leverage knowledge of opponents’ weaknesses when solo
- Communication and coverage as a doubles team
- Careful point tracking as scoring only happens on solo serves
- Excellent for practicing poaches, dinks,serve returns, and down-the-line shots
- Enhances adaptability, endurance, and mental toughness
- Refines ability to place shots precisely from all positions
Why Is it Called Australian Doubles?
The term “Australian Doubles” originates from a variation of the traditional doubles game in tennis, not directly from pickleball. In tennis, “Australian Doubles” (or “Australian Formation”) is a strategy where, during a doubles game, the server’s partner stands on the same side of the court as the server. This is typically done to surprise the opponents and to cover the server’s weaker side, often leading to a strategic advantage in the game.
Ready to Try Australian Doubles?
Australian Doubles pickleball amps up a 3 player game. The rapid rotation, changing strategies, and individual point tracking create intense, engaging matches. Grab 2 friends and start a pickup game – you may find it’s your new preferred way to play!