The very first time I picked up a pickleball paddle and drove down to my local tennis center to take a group lesson, the instructors warned, “you will all leave knowing how to play the game, but learning to keep score will take you months.”
Perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but I did wonder at the time if the scoring system was devised to filter out a segment of people unwilling to learn something new.
And while learning to keep score in pickleball did not take months, it did take several reps to gel in my simple brain. But if I can learn how to keep pickleball score, so can you! 🙂
Let’s start with the basics.
The game of pickleball doubles is played to 11 points, with players needing to win by two points. Some tournaments play until 15 points.
A point is scored when the serving team hits the ball into the non-volley zone or out of bounds, the receiving team is unable to return the ball, a player hits a volley into the non-volley zone and the other team is unable to return it, or a player hits the ball out of bounds.
Similar to ping pong, only the serving team gets the point. There is a variation of pickleball that uses “rally scoring,” which means a team can win a point regardless of whether or not they served.
Now here’s where a lot of folks get tripped up–the actual scoring.
The first server (always on the right side of the court) announces the starting score of 0-0-2 (zero-zero-two). The two represents that you are the second server, and if your side wins the point, the score becomes 1-0-2, with the second server continuing until a sideout (aka – when the point is lost).
If the initial point is lost by the serving team, the ball goes to the other side, and the score is now 0-0-1. If the point is won by the serving team, the score becomes 1-0-1. If the next point is lost by the serving team, the second player on that side serves and announces a score of 1-0-2.
Reading this probably doesn’t help; it’s the kind of headache only cleared up by getting out onto a court and actually playing the game.
Also, do not forget to call the score before serving, loud enough for the opposing team to hear. And, do not drop the ball after calling the score. Both items can be called as rule violations and result in losing the point.