Pickleball Scoring Rules with Serving Faults and Playing Faults

Pickleball Scoring Rules and a quick outline to playing the game

·         A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation (and we will discuss this shortly)

·         You can only score a point when you are the serving team

·         Games are normally played to 11 points, and you need to win by 2 points

·         Tournament games may be played to 15 or 21 points, and you need to win by 2.

·         Your score dictates the side from which you will serve. When you are the serving side and your score is an even number being (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) the player who was the first server in the game for that team will be in the right-side court when serving or receiving; when odd it is an odd number being (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) that player will be in the left-side court when serving or receiving.

The start of the game

The start of the game is decided with a coin toss and the winner will have the option to choose the side or which end of the court they wish to start play or to serve or to receive. Every serving sequence has two servers per side except the first one of the game which has only one server.


VERBAL Pickleball Scoring Rules

Most Important Special Note here: The official scoring rules state (and general play expects it) that the score is verbally called by the serving side before the serve is made. This must be made loud enough for the opposition players to hear it.

Failure to do is a fault and your serve is lost irrespective if it was otherwise a legal serve.


The first Server of the first side to serve will start the game and commence serve on the right side of the court and continue to serve switching to the other side of the court when a point is won until a fault is served or the point is lost from the serve. 

SPECIAL IMPORTANT NOTE: Serve with then transfer to the other side. There is no second player serve from the side that starts the first play of the game. This is the only time this anomaly occurs. All other serving sequences will require two servers from each side to serve.  

When the first server of the game has faulted or play has been lost from their serve play moves to Server 1 on the opposition side who will commence serve on the right side of the court and continue to serve switching to the other side of the court when a point is won until a fault is served or the point is lost from the serve.

The serve will then be taken by the 2nd server. The second server will continue serve from their current side and switching to the other side of the court when a point is won and continue to serve until a fault is served or the point is lost from the serve. The service sequence is then given to the opposition side.

The first serve of the opposition side is also made from the right-hand court and with each point won the server switches sides and initiates the next serve from the left-hand court. As subsequent points are scored, the server continues switching back and forth until a fault is committed and the first server loses the serve or point from play. Similarly, the second server continues serving until their team commits a fault or loses the point from play and subsequently loses the serve sequence back to the opposing team.

Each serving side (after the first serving side) will hold serve until their team commits two faults or play is lost from a serve. (Technically this is also called a fault of play - a fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation– however this is termed as it is here for clarity.)

Pickleball Scoring Rules - Single Play

In singles play, the server serves from the right-hand court when his or her score is even - 0,2,4,6,8,10 etc and from the left when the score is odd – 1,3,5,7 etc.

What constitutes a fault?

Faults - A fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation.

A serving fault occurs when:

·         A serve does not land within the confines of the receiving court – a ball landing on the kitchen line of the receiving court or OUTSIDE of the receiving court sideline or centre line or baseline is a fault.

·         A serve ball that is hit into the net – is a fault

·         If when a serve is hit and the servers foot is grounded on or inside of the baseline or outside of the sideline or center line – it is a fault 

·         A server strikes the ball above their naval

·         A server strikes the ball when the shoulder of the paddle is above the wrist

A fault by the serving team results in the server’s loss of serve and when 2 faults have been served, the serve moves to the opposition side.

Pickleball Scoring Rules for net fault

Serve Again Net Fault

This is termed net or net fault. This means that a server has served the ball correctly and before landing legally in the receivers court, the ball has touched (snicked) the top of the net. In other terms, the serve would have been a legal valid serve but for touching the net before it landed in play. When a net fault has been served, there is no play of the ball and the serve is taken again. There is no limit to the number of net faults that could be served. In practice it is rarely more than two in any given service moment.   

A playing fault occurs when:

·         The ball is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side – (the double or two bounce rule is violated)

·         The ball is hit out of bounds

·         A ball is volleyed when a players foot is on or inside of the kitchen line

·         A players momentum from any hit carriers them into or any part of their body or paddle touches the ground on or inside the kitchen line

·         A ball bounces twice before being struck by a player

·         A player, player’s clothing, or any part of a player’s paddle touches the net or the net post when the ball is in play

·         A ball in play strikes a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying

·         A ball in play strikes any permanent object before bouncing on the court

Pickleball Scoring Rules are the same for both singles play or doubles play and both are played on the same court. The only difference to the play in singles is that the serve is taken in sequence of sides which is to say that when your score is an even number it is taken on the right side of the court and when your score is an odd number it is taken on the left side of the court irrespective of if your service is concurrent or spasmodic.

Yes, Pickleball Scoring Rules on serve can be a little confusing in understanding and long winded in explanation at first but a game or two and you will be fully conversant. However, if you have not played yet, here is the condensed version in Laymen’s terms titled: Pickleball Serving Rules Condensed for Easy Understanding 

Other people who have read this page go onto read...

| Pickleball Rules | Pickleball Rule | Pickleball Serving Rules | Illegal Pickleball Serves | Pickleball Line Counts |

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