by Pickleball Superstore May 05, 2023
Welcome to our comprehensive guide on pickleball rules doubles! Whether you're a seasoned singles player looking to mix things up or brand-new to the sport entirely (welcome, by the way), there’s no doubt that understanding the official rules of the game is crucial to enjoying pickleball to its fullest. You can’t enjoy your win if you don’t play properly, right?
This article will cover everything you need to know about playing pickleball doubles, including the serving rules, scoring rules, and common faults and violations. And as a bonus, we’ll also share some tips to help you take your next pickleball doubles game to the next level.
Before we get into the game's general rules, there is one crucial thing to note at the beginning: a service turn is only granted to one player from the initial serving team. However, for the rest of the match, both team members will get their turn to serve before turning the ball over to the opposing team.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, onto the serving itself! The game begins with the pickleball player on the right-hand side serving the ball diagonally to the opposite service court, between the non-volley zone and court baseline opposite the player.
This serve must always be performed underhand, with the player only making contact with the ball below the waist. And the server needs to remember to watch their feet - they must be kept behind the backline while performing a serve.
It’s essential to get these serving rules right the first time, as, for the most part, players are only allowed one attempted serve. There is only one exception to this rule: the serve can be played over if the ball hits the net AND still ends up in the right service court.
If the serving team scores a point, the server switches to the other side of the court. They’ll then keep alternating like this until they commit a fault, at which point the other player on the team takes their turn as server. Then, when the team commits their second fault, they stay in the same place, and the receiving team begins serving.
During this time, the receiving team never alternates sides - only the serving team does unless they don’t score a point.
One of the most important things to remember when scoring in doubles pickleball is that players can only earn a point when they’re on the serving team - there’s no rally scoring here.
But while you don’t need to keep track of the receiving team’s points, you need to pay attention to whether it is the first or second server when keeping score during a doubles match.
The score is usually called like this:
Serving Team’s Score - Receiving Team’s Score - Current Server (server 1 or server 2)
For example, if a serving team has 5 points, the receiving team has 6, and it’s the first server, the score would be 5-7-1. However, something important to remember here is that the first person who serves in the game isn’t considered the first server.
Since only one player on the serving team gets to serve at the beginning of the game, they are technically considered server 2, and the match starts with a score of 0-0-2. This indicates that the receiving team gets the ball when the first server loses the serve.
Play continues until one team reaches 11 points, beating the other team by at least 2 points. Then, the team who wins the best 2 out of 3 matches is considered the overall winner.
Now that you know the basic serving and scoring rules, let’s explore some of the most common faults and violations in pickleball doubles. These can result in the loss of a point, a side-out (when the serving team loses a point and the serve moves to the other team), or a fault, so pay special attention to these if you want to come out on top during your match!
The “double” here refers to the fact that both teams must play the first shot off the bounce. This means the receiving team must return the serve after its first bounce, and the serving team needs to let that return bounce once before playing it. Only after those two bounces can the ball be played right out of the air (a volley) or, again, off the bounce.
Speaking of volleys, doubles pickleball players can’t be in the non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen) after hitting a volley. Unless the ball has bounced on their side of the court, players must steer clear of this area, which covers a 7-foot zone on each side of the net.
That said, a player who has just hit a volley can jump across the non-volley line IF they avoid touching any part of the non-volley zone while hitting the ball.
Players can only let a ball bounce once on their side of the court. Letting it bounce more than once will result in losing a point.
Now that you know the basics, here are a few tips to help you win your next pickleball doubles game!
With these basic pickleball doubles rules under your belt, you should now be ready for your upcoming game. So, grab your partner and get in some stretches - you’ve got a doubles pickleball game to win! Good luck!