What is pickleball rally scoring?

What is the difference between side out scoring and rally scoring in pickleball?

Jaclyn Brandt

scoring

05/22/2024

May 22, 2024

If you are learning to play pickleball, you are likely using side out scoring. So what is the difference between side out scoring and rally scoring in pickleball?

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If you are learning to play pickleball but you are also a fan of professional pickleball, you might notice many of the rules between the two are very different. If you are playing recreational pickleball, you are likely using side out scoring. So what is the difference between side out scoring and rally scoring in pickleball?

Side out scoring

Side out scoring is likely the form of scoring you have been using if you are playing recreational pickleball, whether it’s at your local court or at a USA Pickleball-approved tournament. Here are some details of side out scoring in pickleball:

  • The first team to 11 points wins the game.

  • The team who wins has to win by 2 points, which means you cannot win 11-10.

  • Only the serving team can score a point.

Rally scoring

Rally scoring is very different from side out scoring, and is used by some professional leagues. Here are some details of rally scoring in pickleball:

  • Because teams score more quickly in rally scoring, the games are usually longer (usually to 15 or 21 points).

  • The team who wins the rally wins a point, regardless of whether they served or not.

    • On the last point, only the serving team can score.

    • The winning team must still win by two.

  • Players will not change sides of the court when winning a serve, but will switch off servers each serve.

    • The player on the right will serve on even points (ending in 2, 4, 6, etc.).

    • The player on the left will serve on odd points (ending in 1, 3, 5, etc.).

  • Players will not call out the “server number” in the score.

    • Example: The score will be 0-5 instead of 0-5-2.

  • The two teams may switch ends of the court when one team reaches 11 points.

Pickleball scoring

Keeping the score in pickleball can be tough to learn, especially because there are now multiple ways to keep score. For now, side out scoring is the preference of USA Pickleball so you will usually use that format in any rec play.

Some professional leagues are now using rally scoring so if you are a fan of those leagues, it’s important to learn the differences between the two. But if you are only interested in playing pickleball, then focus on only learning side out scoring because that is still the most-used scoring format in pickleball.

Learn more about all the pickleball scoring rules.