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What is skinny singles pickleball? Rules, courts, and how it’s different than regular singles

What is skinny singles pickleball? Rules, courts, and how it’s different than regular singles


By Jaclyn Brandt

On: 02/26/2024

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Skinny singles in pickleball, or mini-singles, is a form of singles pickleball where you do not use the entire pickleball court.
Skinny singles in pickleball, or mini-singles, is a form of singles pickleball where you do not use the entire pickleball court.

Skinny singles in pickleball, or mini-singles, is a form of singles pickleball where you do not use the entire pickleball court. Here are the top things you should know about skinny singles pickleball:

How to play skinny singles

Skinny singles is a fun form of pickleball similar to regular singles — but with a few dramatic differences. Skinny singles is a good option if you have only two players, but do not want to utilize the entire court during your match.

Each player will use only one side of the court (left or right) in skinny singles, but that side will be continually changing, all based on your current score (and whether you are the server or receiver).

Pickleball skinny singles rules

Although skinny singles is played on a standard pickleball court, you will not use the entire court during your play. Here are some additional rules to turn your singles play into skinny singles:

  • You should draw a line extending the center line of the court through the non-volley (or kitchen) zone.

  • Only one of the two sides of the court will be in play, on each side of the court, during a rally.

    • The courts in play are determined by player positions for each rally (see below).

  • For any rules not mentioned here, you should follow the rules for pickleball singles.

Player positions

  • Player positions are determined individually by that player’s individual score.

    • This is in effect for both players, whether they are serving or receiving.

  • When a player’s score is even, they will play from the right side of their court.

  • When a player’s score is odd, they will play from the left side of their court.

  • Like doubles or singles pickleball, the server will switch positions each time they win a rally.

  • After a side out, the server will start serving from the right or left court depending on their score.

    • In regular pickleball singles, the receiving player will always line up crosscourt/diagonally from the server. In skinny singles, they will line up according to their score only.

A skinny singles rally may happen with the two players playing crosscourt from each other, or directly across from each other. Only the side of the court each player is playing in will be considered in-play.

Each player is responsible for playing their correct side of the court.

Skinny singles scoring


The scoring for pickleball skinny singles will remain the same as doubles or singles pickleball.

  • Matches will be played to 11, win by 2.

  • Tournaments may be played to 11, 15, or 21, win by 2.

Only the serving player may score during a rally.

Court dimensions

In pickleball skinny singles, only one side of the court will be used on each side of the net. A rally may happen with each player crosscourt from each other, or directly across from each other.

The outer lines of each player’s “court” in skinny singles include:

  • One sideline.

  • The baseline.

  • The center line (which acts as the other “sideline” to their side of the net).

The kitchen zone

The kitchen, or non-volley, zone follows the same rules as it does in regular (doubles or singles) pickleball.

  • The kitchen line is considered part of the kitchen.

  • The kitchen sideline and centerline are considered part of the kitchen.

  • You may not step in the kitchen zone during or after a volley.

    • This includes if momentum takes you into the zone after your volley.

    • If you step into the NVZ before your volley, you must re-establish both of your feet outside the zone before hitting the ball.

The only difference in kitchen rules from regular pickleball rules is that the newly-drawn center line in the NVZ is now considered the sideline (with the outer edge being the “out” line).

Playing skinny singles pickleball

If you have only two players, you may consider playing skinny singles, or mini-singles, in pickleball. The version of the sport will help you cover less ground while still practicing your pickleball game.

Skinny singles is a fun way to mix up the game of pickleball, and the rules are very close to the rules of double or singles pickleball. Next time you’re out on the court with only two players, consider practicing your skinny singles game.

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