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Understanding Pickleball Singles Rules

over the shoulder shot of man hitting a pickleball with a paddle

If you’ve recently heard about pickleball, you’re not alone. This fun sport is becoming increasingly popular with each passing year. With so many new players, however, many are finding one common obstacle: understanding the official rules of pickleball singles.

This article will help familiarize you with everything you need to know about the rules of pickleball singles. Aside from clarifying the serving rules, we offer some insight into what you should know about the scoring rules and singles violations.

What Is Pickleball, and How Does it Work?

Pickleball is a fun paddle game that is similar to tennis. It is played in a small court similar to a tennis court using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Typically, pickleball singles games are played with two teams with one player each.

When the game starts, the ball is launched over the net and then hit back and forth between the two teams. The serving team wins a point if they successfully launch the ball past the receiving team. In other cases, they may fail to score if they commit a fault or their opponent wins the rally.

While pickleball is extremely fun, knowing the official rules is essential before you start. For example, knowing in advance that you shouldn’t touch the net or hit the ball out of bounds may save you some grief in the long run.

Understanding Pickleball Singles Rules

women playing pickleball game

Serving Rules for Singles

Singles pickleball plays very similarly to doubles pickleball, but there are a few differences you need to be aware of. First, the serving team should always serve from the right-hand side on the first serve.

The position of the next serve depends. If the server wins the point, the server will switch sides; If the receiving team wins, neither side switches. Regardless of their position, the server shouldalways serve the ball to the opposite diagonal court of the opposing team.

They will continue to serve until they commit a fault or rule violation or the opposing team wins the rally. When that happens, the opponent will begin to serve, and the previous server will receive.

Potential faults are the most important thing to watch out for when serving during singles. You should always serve from the correct side of the court. If your score is even, serve from the right side to your opponent’s right side. If your score is odd, serve from the left-hand side to your opponent’s left-hand side.

Scoring Rules for Singles

Just like the serving rules differ for singles in pickleball, the scoring rules are also different. The most important rule to understand is the “win by 2 rule.” This rule dictates that each pickleball game (which is played up to 11 points) will be won by the player that has two more points than the other.

The way that scores are called in singles is also different from doubles. In singles, the score is only called for the server and receiver scores. You should always call the score with the server score first and the receiver score second.

It’s not uncommon for ties to occur in singles since a win requires having at least two more points than the opponent. Ties in singles are resolved by simply continuing to play until one player has two more points than the other.

Faults and Violations Specific to Singles Play

Before you start playing pickleball singles, the most important thing you can do is become familiar with its unique faults and violations. Many players lose points during singles play due to foot faults when the player steps on or across the baseline or touches the non-volley zone line before hitting the ball.

Non-volley zone violations are also widespread during singles play. As mentioned, foot faults commonly occur when players accidentally step on or across the non-volley zone line. It’s also common for players to accidentally hit the ball past the non-volley zone line during a serve attempt.

Many other types of faults can occur during singles play, so you should familiarize yourself with the rules closely. Your ball should never touch the net or non-volley zone and never go out of bounds. You should never accidentally strike a player with the ball or touch the net.


Understanding pickleball rules is very important to make the best of your games. While switching from doubles to singles might be intimidating, you must learn only a few simple rules before facing an opponent one-on-one.

old man wearing black playing pickleball

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Court Size for Singles Play in Pickleball?

The pickleball court size for singles play is the same as a regular baseball game: 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. Games of skinny singles divide the court in half, making it 44 feet long and 10 feet wide, making the pickleball court more manageable for just two players.

Are There Any Differences in the Serving Rules for Singles and Doubles Play?

There are differences in the serving rules for singles and doubles players because there aren’t two servers. Instead of being assigned a particular side of the court, you will be expected to switch what side you serve from, depending on your score.

How Does the “Two-Bounce” Rule Work in Singles Play?

The two-bounce rule in singles play affects how players interact with the ball. You must wait for the ball to bounce once before hitting it. You can still hit the ball after the second bounce, but it will become invalid after the third ball bounce.

Can I Switch From Singles to Doubles Play Mid-Game?

You can’t switch from singles to doubles play in the middle of a pickleball game. Adding an extra player to each team during the middle of the game would cause confusion, and there’s no formal process for doing so. You can feel free to try this game style recreationally, however.

Are There Any Unique Strategies for Winning in Singles Play?

You can consider a few unique strategies to win singles play. You should make sure to vary your shots. Since you and your opponent have to cover more ground when playing singles, forcing your opponent to move frequently can give you an advantage.

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