What Is A Rally In Pickleball? Should Rally Scoring Be Implemented In Pickleball?

October 24, 2021

Pickleball is a competitive game that provides room for people to socialize. Besides, players get an excellent fun workout playing this game.

This sport combines aspects of badminton and tennis. Players strike a perforated polymer ball with solid paddles. Like the previously mentioned sports, Pickleball also has Singles or Doubles games.

Like other games, Pickleball has its own rules on how to score. I bet anyone in a competitive game would be interested in scoring. Read on to discover the rules and facts about Pickleball.

What is a rally in Pickleball? 

A rally is a continuous game that begins as soon as the ball gets served. It remains active until the game terminates with a fault. 

The pickleball game features singles and doubles modes. Pickleball, like most bat games, has rally scoring. A point is rewarded after every rally regardless of the side that serves. 

Traditional Scoring On Pickleball

The traditional scoring system’s side out results in only the serving player(s) receiving the point. The game ends at 11 with a 2-point margin consideration. 

Essentially, 11-10 is not considered a win in Pickleball. The winning team would have to score an extra point to win the match.

Players exchange their positions with every serve that earned them a point. This alternating structure goes on until a team commits a fault during the game.

The rules for traditional pickleball scoring and the badminton scoring rules are akin. Most racket games have switched to rally scoring, and Pickleball is the only game left behind.

Scores in Doubles

Doubles is a pickleball game with two players on each side. The player on the even side of the court starts the game. Each point earned requires the serving team players to swap positions for the next serve.

If the first server loses a rally, the serve is lost, and the second server has the chance to serve the team. 

A side out occurs when both servers have faulted. The receiving team then gets an opportunity to serve the ball too.

The key takeaway here is that there is no point earned during the rally in the standard doubles rule. Talks about the possibilities of including rally scoring in contemporary Pickleball are still ongoing. 

Scores in Singles

Singles scoring is less intricate as only one player is serving the ball. With every point won, the player switches their side on the court and continues serving.

There are no rallies in the singles match. Each party loses a serve with every fault, hence flipping the serving turns.

Like in doubles, traditional scoring doesn’t award points to the opposing team with each fault. 

Rally Scoring in Pickleball

The explosion in the growth of Pickleball has resulted in discussions about how players should implement scoring in Pickleball. Proponents of these discussions want a shift from traditional scoring to rally scoring.

Traditional Pickleball scoring and traditional badminton scoring rules are similar. Notably, badminton scoring changed in 2006. It seems reasonable that teams should incorporate rally scoring into Pickleball as well.

Rally scoring will cut the learning curve for beginners. Moreover, the games would be faster, hence making the courts less crowded. All these grounds would suffice the television attractiveness of the game.

Scores in rallies are unlike standard traditional scoring. Points are earned in every rally regardless of the side that serves the ball.

Rally Scoring Terms used in Pickleball

  • Fault: A loss in a rally resulting in the opposing team earning a point. Points can be lost from serves (either or both serves) or a side out.
  • Side out: When the serving team loses both of its serves, the opposing team takes the serving turn.
  • Even side: This is the right side of the pickleball court. This side of the court is used at the start of a game or after the side out.
  • Odd side: This is the left side of the pickleball court. The ball is served from this end when the score is odd.

Basics of Rally Scoring in Pickleball

The basics of rally scoring are a no-brainer. Firstly, each rally is worth a point, and each player only gets to serve once.

Serve one and two are, therefore, not included. Each team member gets a chance to serve throughout the game.

The right side of the Pickleball court is always the even side, while the odd side is on the left. The serving team’s score will determine the side of the court from which a player will play the service.

A serving team with an even score will serve from the right. On the flip side, a serving team with an odd score serves from the left side of the court.

A game commences with a nil-nil score, with one team serving from the even side. The serving team wins a point when the opposing team fails to get the ball past the net.

The serving team players will then change their positions on the court. Since the score will be odd, the serving team will serve from the left side of the court.

Players do not alternate sides unless they are the serving team and have won a point. The game is usually played to eleven points with a win by two points. Players can extend the gameplay to 15 or 21 if the gameplay is happening quickly.

Before a serve, the serving team must state its points and the opposing team’s points. Furthermore, it is a requirement for the serving player to declare their serving number.

When the serving team loses a rally, the second server will serve from their current position (odd or even side).

Once the serving team loses a rally, the opposing team has two chances to serve. This rule is famously known as a side out.

Assuming the serving team has 4 points, and the opposing team has 2 points, the first server will serve from the right side, stating 4-2-1. This example is the case for the first serve.

There is no rule specifying where the receiving team’s players should position themselves. Any optimal position, including outside the court, can be utilized by the receiving team.

It is, therefore, normal to find players positioned in a stacking formation. This formation provides the receiving team’s players an advantageous position for their team.

The traditional stacking formation allows for one player to stand outside the court. Again, the rules do not specify which position the players should stand. It is up to a team to decide.

The only exception to positioning applies to the serving player. At least one of the serving layer’s feet should be on the playing surface behind the baseline.

None of the server’s feet may be in contact with the court on or inside the baseline. Moreover, neither of the server’s feet should contact the centerlines and sidelines imaginary extensions.

Pickleball Rally Scoring: Pros and Cons


  • Rally scoring makes the gameplay faster. Since teams rotate out quicker, pickleball court crowding decreases.
  • Rally scoring makes the game more appealing since it is quick-paced. A quick match attracts more game viewership on TVs.
  • Rally scoring makes the doubles match more interactive. The players will be aware of the court area from which to serve. It is so as they keep track of the scores.
  • Rally scoring advocates for consistency. Consistency might be evident because the opponents will be earning points for every serving mistake.
  • The scoring learning curve is easier for beginners with the rally scoring. On this ground, rally scoring will attract numerous players to the game.
  • The game gets more intriguing as the game duration reduces.  Slashing time decreases the wastages tied to incomplete serves as in the past pickleball scoring.


  • Rally scoring reduces the game length. A reasonably weak team will struggle when competing against a well-established team if the weaker team fails to play within the rules.
  • Rally scoring awards a point for every faulty serve; hence teams get points even without playing.
  • The receiving team may have a hard time tracking the serving player in every serve.
  • Rally scoring may be unforgiving to the rookies as less experienced players would not have a chance to practice their shorts during a game, unlike traditional gameplay.


A rally is a series of serves awarded to a team of players in Pickleball. Rally scoring increases the rate of scoring points, making the game flow faster. Rally scoring reduces the crowding in courts, making the game attractive to television viewers. 

However, the rally-scoring faces adversities in its implementation. The critics have raised harsh premises concerning the learning curve of rally scoring to newbies. 

Even though their grounds have some weight, rally scoring makes the game more attractive and helps clear the courts faster. 

Rally scoring in Pickleball appears sustainable; Aside from the naysayers’ narrative, players should embrace the rule when enacted.

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