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“0-0-2 Game On!”
Pickleball scoring can be confusing at first but can be easily mastered. It is important that the score be announced correctly by each server so that everyone “knows the score”.
Legend has it that the first person to serve starts in the Northwest corner of the court as that is usually the closest to Bainbridge Island, where Pickleball was invented. However, this is not always the case and most facilities have a standard starting place. If it is your first time at a given facility just ask.
The score is recited by the server as: your team’s score, your opponent’s score followed by the server number. The 1 and 2 at the end indicate server number 1 and server number 2. For example, 2-1-1 means the server’s team has 2 points, the opponent’s team has 1 point and the server is server number1.
You start out at 0-0-2 because after the first serve (only) it is an immediate side out once the point is lost. After that there is always a server 1 and server 2. To avoid confusion some players say “0-0-start.” or “0-0-2” – both are acceptable.
For example, on the first serve if the serving team wins the rally the score is then 1-0-2. If the team serving loses the rally, then it is side out and the opponent serves 0-0-1. If that team wins the rally, then it goes to 1-0-1. If the rally is lost the score stays the same and the server number changes. 0-0-2 in this case. After server 2 it is a side out and the other side then gets 2 services as well.
Games are played to 11 and you must win by 2 points. This can make for some very long games. The only exception to this is some tournaments where you only win by 1 point in the interest of saving time.
The service must go into the diagonal box across from the server. One little quirk in the rules, on the serve (only) hitting the kitchen line is considered short and thus a fault with the rally going to the opposing players.
If the ball hits the net and goes into the appropriate box it is considered a “let” and is done over. There are no limits on let serves. Although these rarely happen more than once or twice in a row. If the ball hits the net and does not go into the appropriate box it is considered a fault and thus a losing point.
The scoring in singles is the same although there is no concept of server 1 or 2. In singles you either win the rally and keep scoring or it is an immediate side out.
Always announce the score on each serve. This helps you and the rest of the players keep track of the score.
Learning how to correctly keep track of and announce the score is an important part of the game and goes hand in hand with improving your level of skill.