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5 Common Pickleball Scoring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by Pickleball Superstore April 12, 2023

pickleball superstore best selling paddles and 5 mistakes for scoring

Pickleball may be an exciting and fast-paced sport, but let's face it, the scoring system can be a bit tricky to master. Unlike other sports, determining the score isn’t simply a matter of tracking how many times a player hits, throws, or kicks the ball into the opposing net - the pickleball scoring system is a little more complicated than that.

So, to help clear things up, we will explore five of the most common pickleball scoring mistakes and give you some tips on how to avoid them. With these tips, you can enjoy this incredible sport to its fullest potential!

The Basics of Pickleball Scoring: Traditional vs Rally

Let’s begin by reviewing the two types of pickleball scoring, traditional and rally.

Traditional Pickleball Scoring

In traditional pickleball scoring, only the serving team can earn a point by winning a rally. And each time this happens, the serving pickleball player switches court positions with their partner (or, if it’s a singles game, they just switch to the other side themselves).

For example, if the serving player serves from the right side of the court and their team wins that point, they would then switch spots with their partner and serve from the left side on their next turn.

This means that if the receiving team wins a rally, they do not earn a point. Instead, the serve either switches to the second pickleball player on the serving team or they force a side-out.

Gameplay continues like this until one side reaches 11 points - by at least a 2-point margin - for the win.

Rally Pickleball Scoring

Rally scoring is similar to traditional scoring in that the serving player changes positions with their partner after receiving a point. However, this is where the similarities end.

In rally scoring, whichever team wins the rally earns the point. This can be either the serving team or the receiving team.

Also, unlike traditional scoring, rally pickleball has no second service. If your team loses the rally, you lose both the point and the serve to the opposing team. This is reflected in the score announcement, where you only call out your score followed by the opposing team’s score (in traditional, you also have to call out the number of the serving player, 1 or 2).

Finally, instead of playing to 11 points, rally games are typically played to 15 or 21.

Common Pickleball Scoring Mistakes

The different scoring systems make it easy to see how pickleball players can make mistakes when tracking the score! Let’s get into some of the most common mistakes to watch out for below.

1. Serving Out of Turn

When playing a traditional doubles game, some players forget whose turn it is to serve on their team. Serving out of turn can lead to lost points and general confusion, which can be a costly mistake.

2. Not Switching Sides

The server must switch sides after each point, whether it’s a singles or doubles pickleball game. Failure to do so can result in a fault.

3. Calling the Wrong Score

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an awesome pickleball scorekeeper during your game, keeping track of everyone’s points accurately with such a complicated scoring system can be challenging. This makes calling out the wrong score a common mistake - and an annoying one at that!

4. Forgetting the Double-Bounce Rule

Beginners, in particular, may have a hard time remembering this one. In pickleball, the two-bouce or double-bounce rule states that each team needs to play the first shot off the bounce.

This means that the receiving team needs to let the ball bounce one time on their side before hitting it, and then the serving team needs to do the same on their side. After that, they can either volley the ball (hit it in the air) or continue to play off the bounce.

By not following the double-bounce rule, players can slow down the game and lose points in the process.

5. Not Paying Attention to the Score

You may think that “the other team or referee has got the score covered! I don’t need to keep track of it myself”. But here’s the thing: pickleball is a fast-paced sport with a tricky scoring system to boot.

That other person you’re relying on can easily miss something, so if you’re after an accurate score, you better try and help them out. Winning isn’t as fun when you’re not 100% sure you’ve earned it.

Tips to Avoid Pickleball Scoring Mistakes 

It may be easy to make scoring mistakes during a pickleball game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to avoid them! Try these tips to help keep your pickleball score accurate.

Establish a Clear Communication System With Your Partner

This is the number one thing you can do to avoid scoring mistakes. When playing pickleball, you and your partner must be on the same page - whether you’re on the same team or not.

Check with your doubles or singles partner after each point to ensure you agree on who should be serving and receiving and that the server is switching positions correctly after each point. Use visual cues if you have to! And if you have a referee, you can always check in with them too.

Call Out the Score Before You Serve

If you often lose track of the score during a pickleball game, start calling it out before you serve the ball. Not only will this help remind everyone of the score, but it’s actually a rule!

And in traditional scoring, don’t forget to include the server number. This should help you keep track of the order too.

Practice the Double-Bounce Rule in Drills

You don’t want to miss out on a point over this rule! The best thing you can do if you’re having trouble with the double-bounce rule is to practice it over and over again until it becomes second nature. You shouldn’t even have to think about it - it should be an automatic reflex.

The Bottom Line

It’s easy to make pickleball scoring mistakes, but there are some things you can do to avoid them! So, grab your pickleball paddle, ball, and a good pair of shoes, and use these tips out on the court to ensure that your next win is as accurate as possible. Good luck!

Pickleball Superstore
Pickleball Superstore