Pickleball Rally Scoring – How Rally Scoring Works

Pickleball, a sport that has been gaining widespread popularity in recent years, has a few rules and regulations that become a headache for quite a few beginners. In addition to learning all the pickleball rules and techniques, it is important to know about the scoring systems that are used in pickleball. 

Pickleball utilizes two distinct scoring systems – Side Out Scoring and the focus of our exploration, Rally Scoring Pickleball. In this article, we will explore the complexities of Pickleball Rally Scoring. You will get to learn the rules of the rally scoring, the potential impact on the game, and the ongoing discussions within the pickleball community.

What is Traditional Scoring in Pickleball?

Simply put, in regular pickleball scoring, only the serving team gets a point when they win a rally. If the non-serving team wins, they can either make the second player serve or get a side-out if both players have served.

With the classic scoring approach, games typically go up to 11 points, and you need a 2-point lead to secure the win.

What is Rally Scoring in Pickleball?

Rally Scoring in pickleball is different when compared to Side Out Scoring. In pickleball Rally Scoring, points are given after each rally, no matter which team serves. Unlike the usual scoring where only the serving team scores, here, every pickleball exchange earns a point.

Starting a game with Pickleball Rally Scoring is a breeze – teams decide who serves and picks their side through a simple coin flip or a classic rock-paper-scissors. Partners then stick to either the “even” or “odd” side throughout the game, avoiding the hassle of switching sides mid-play.

How Does Rally Scoring in Pickleball Work? 

So, diving into how Pickleball Rally Scoring works in pickleball, it’s a bit like this Major League Pickleball style:

  • First off, decide who serves, receives, or picks the court end with a fair method – like rock-paper-scissors or a coin flip.
  • Each team picks their starting side, and they stick to it throughout the game unless there’s a timeout or end change.
  • The team serving first starts the game. If they win a rally, they score a point and keep serving, alternating between players on the left and right without switching sides.
  • If the serving team loses a rally, the receiving team snags a point and gets the serve. No second server, so scores only have two numbers – serving team and receiving team.
  • Who serves is based on the serving team’s score. Even score, right side serves; odd score, left side serves. For example, if it’s 0-0 and the receiving team wins, they get the serve, making it 1-0, and the left-side player serves next.
  • Teams switch ends at 11 points, and the first to 21 points wins (with a win-by-2 rule). Points past 20 can only be scored on serves.
  • Players stay on their sides unless there’s a timeout or end change, and every rally scores a point. The final point, and those after 20, can only be won on a serve. 

Benefits of Rally Scoring Pickleball

Here are a few noteworthy benefits of scoring Rally in pickleball: 

Quicker Games:

One of the biggest and probably the most favorite things about rally scoring is that it leads to games finishing approximately 20% faster, enabling faster rotations on crowded courts.

Reduced Waiting Times:

Pickleball Rally scoring happens to be particularly beneficial for places like the local YMCA or Community Center, where people often experience extended waiting times to play.

Consistent and Predictable Game Durations:

With rally scoring, game durations become more consistent and predictable compared to the potential variability in traditional games, ensuring a more reliable time frame for each match.

The Serve and Rally Sequence

The Serve and Rally Sequence

Let’s now learn a bit more about the serve and rally sequence. The serving team always starts the rally, with the player on the right side serving if the team’s point total is even. Conversely, if the point total is odd, the left-side player serves. The pivotal aspect is that every rally results in a point, regardless of the serving team. The winning team continues to serve, creating a dynamic flow in the game.

However, here lies an interesting twist – both serving and receiving teams must allow the ball to bounce once before returning it, introducing an element of strategy known as the Double Bounce. The first team to reach 21 points emerges victorious, but there’s a catch – a team must secure a two-point margin for the win.

Freeze: Adding Complexity to the Game

The concept of the “Freeze” adds an intriguing layer to Pickleball Rally Scoring. 

  •  If a team hits 20 points, they enter a Freeze, allowing scoring only when serving.
  • Ensures the winning team secures their last point while serving.
  • The losing team enters a Freeze at 18 points, adding strategic depth to the game.
  • Intensifies competition by requiring a two-point lead for victory.
  • If a team reaches 21 points without a two-point lead, the game continues until a decisive win, enhancing excitement and unpredictability.

For and Against Rally Scoring

The adoption of Pickleball Rally Scoring has given rise to quite a few debates within the Pickleball community. Wondering why? 

Some advanced players think that Pickleball Rally scoring is beneficial in the following ways: 

  • Pickleball Rally scoring is a good way to create faster, more engaging games
  • Rally scoring simplifies the learning curve for newcomers
  • Rally scoring provides accurate player ratings. 

On the other hand, critics express concerns about potentially disrupting the fundamental balance between serving and receiving teams. They think rally pickleball scoring can cause confusion with the altered scoring system, and impact strategic elements within the game.

As pickleball continues to grow, ongoing research dives into different scoring formats. 


In a nutshell, Rally Scoring in Pickleball spices things up by making every rally count, adding the Freeze concept, and throwing in a win-by-two rule for some strategy fun. Some pickleball players dig the change, seeing potential perks, while others are a bit wary of messing with the game’s classic vibe.

As pickleball figures out where it’s headed, the future of scoring is up in the air, but one thing’s for sure – whether it becomes the norm or leads to more tweaks, pickleball’s lively spirit keeps winning hearts around the globe! 


What does rally scoring mean in pickleball?

Rally scoring is like adding a twist to the storyline of pickleball. To break it down, it’s a scoring system where each rally earns a point, no matter which team served. The only exception is the final point – it can only be scored by the team serving.

How does rally scoring differ from the traditional method?

Unlike traditional scoring, where games usually go up to 11 points, pickleball rally scoring takes it a step further, often playing to 15 or 21. The key difference lies in awarding a point after every rally, making the game progress at a quicker pace.

What is a rally in pickleball?

In simple terms, a rally in pickleball is the continuous exchange that happens after the ball is served but before a fault occurs. Picture it as the action unfolding on the court post-serve. And as these rallies get more intense, games tend to stretch out.

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