Can Only the Serving Team Score in Pickleball?

Pickleball is a popular racquet sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is played with a whiffle ball and paddles on a smaller court than traditional tennis. One common question that arises among newcomers to the game is whether only the serving team can score points in pickleball. In this blog, we will explore the scoring rules of pickleball to understand, Can Only the Serving Team Score in Pickleball? Or both teams have an opportunity to score.

Scoring Rules of Pickleball

Pickleball follows a unique scoring system that differentiates it from other racquet sports. The game is played to 11 points, and a team must win by a margin of two points. Can Only the Serving Team Score in Pickleball? Yes, Only the serving team can score points, and there are two possibilities for them to earn points in a rally:

1. Winning a Rally as the Serving Team

When the serving team wins a rally, they will score a point. To serve, teams have to alternate their service between partners, and they continue to serve until they commit a fault. A fault may occur if the serve lands out of bounds, fails to clear the non-volley zone (also known as the “kitchen”), or is struck improperly. If the serving team wins the rally, they are awarded a point.

2. Earning a Side Out as the Receiving Team

Pickleball allows the receiving team to earn points by regaining the serve through what is known as a “side out.” If the receiving team wins a rally, they gain the opportunity to serve. In this case, they do not immediately score a point, but rather, have the chance to win points through subsequent rallies as the new serving team. They will continue serving until they commit a fault or lose the rally, at which point the serving team has the opportunity to score points again.

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Understanding the Rotation of Serve

Pickleball has strict serving rotation rules. The serving team should start the game with one player serving from the right side of the court. After scoring a point or winning a side out, the serving team rotates counterclockwise, which means the server moves from the right side to the left side of the court. This rotation is maintained until the serving team faults and gives the serve to the opponents. The rotation ensures everyone on the serving team gets a chance to serve.

Pickleball Serve Rules


In pickleball Can Only the Serving Team Score in Pickleball? It is therefore concluded that only the serving team can directly score points, while the receiving team has the opportunity to regain the serve through a side out. Understanding the scoring rules and rotation of serve is essential for players to strategize and maximize their scoring opportunities during a game. So, whether you are serving or receiving, you have an equal chance to impact the score and enjoy the exciting gameplay of pickleball.

FAQs: Can Only the Serving Team Score in Pickleball?

1: Can only the serving team score in pickleball?

Answer: No, both the serving and receiving teams have the opportunity to score points in pickleball. The rules state that a point can be scored by the serving team if the receiving team fails to return the serve successfully, and also by the receiving team if they win the rally by hitting the ball over the net and landing it in the opposing team’s court.

3: Does the serving team always have the advantage in scoring points?

Answer: While the serving team has the opportunity to score points directly through successful serves, they also carry the risk of committing faults during their serve attempts. If the serve goes out of bounds or doesn’t clear the net, the serving team loses their serve and the receiving team gains the opportunity to score.

4: Are there any specific criteria for scoring points in pickleball?

Answer: To score a point in pickleball, the ball must land in bounds within the opposing team’s court, be unreturnable by the other team, or due to a fault committed by the opposing team, such as touching the net with their paddle. The point is awarded to the team that successfully executes the winning shot or benefits from the opponent’s mistake.

5: Can a team win the game solely by scoring points when serving?

Answer: While it is possible to win points only when serving, it is not enough to win the game. In pickleball, a team must both serve and receive in order to score points and ultimately win the game. The teams alternate serving throughout the match, ensuring that both teams have equal opportunities to score points and participate in the game.