Pickleball is a sport that’s been growing in popularity at a tremendous rate. It was mostly played for fun until fairly recently; it’s become a competitive sport with clubs and representation in almost sixty countries. Still, many people have not yet heard of pickleball and are unsure of its rules. One of the most common questions asked by newbies to the sport is, how many rounds are there in pickleball?
There isn’t any specific number of rounds that need to be played to win a game of pickleball. The first team to get eleven points and leading by and least two wins the game. This can go up to fifteen points or twenty-one points in pickleball tournaments, but always leading by at least two points.
In terms of popularity, pickleball is officially the fastest growing sport in the United States, with about 4 million people currently playing it as a recreational sport. Since pickleball is a cross between tennis, badminton, and table tennis (or ping pong, as it’s often called), the rules for winning are often confusing. Let’s see why pickleball doesn’t have rounds and how the game works without it.
Why Doesn’t Pickleball Have Rounds Or Sets?
As mentioned before, pickleball does not have sets or rounds as tennis does. Though it’s never been confirmed, it is believed that the creators of the game found the tennis scoring system too confusing for beginners, so they simplified it considerably.
Pickleball’s lack of rounds, and the fact that it’s played on a points system of 11 or 15 points and win by 2, make it a quick-thinking, fast-paced and competitive game. Let’s look at the scoring system.
The Basics Of Pickleball
Pickleball is a sport that combines the gameplay styles and rules of tennis, badminton, and ping pong (table tennis). It can be played outdoors or indoors. As long as you have a badminton-sized court and a modified tennis net, you are set to play this fun, friendly, social game.
The paddle used to play pickleball is similar to that used in table tennis, and a plastic ball that is called a pickleball. Pickleball can be played either singles or doubles, with the rules adjusting according to the number of players. It is a game that’s easy and simple for beginners to learn, and it truly is a game that people of all age groups can enjoy.
How The Scoring System Works
You score points by hitting the ball back and forth, as with tennis, badminton, and table tennis, but points are simply appointed one point at a time.
The Basic Rules
- You start off with a serve, which must be underhand and crosscourt.
- The returning team can hit the ball back after the ball bounces on the court.
- The plastic pickleball may only bounce once per side in the court; never more than that.
- Players need to be quick without going into ‘the kitchen’ (the area directly next to the net on both sides), and the ball shouldn’t bounce in this part of the court either.
- The scoring system is essentially the same for singles or doubles, except that there is no second server in singles.
Understanding The Court
- The right side of the court is known as the even side, and the left side of the court is called the odd side.
- At the start of the game, or after a “side out,” the serve always starts at the court’s even side (or the right side).
- If the game is played in doubles, each player on the team gets a chance to serve. The only exception is the very first sequence of the game.
- There are three numbers in the pickleball scoring and the player who is serving calls the score. The three numbers are:
- Your team’s score
- The opposing team’s score
- Which server on the team is serving, keeping in mind that the right side or even side serves first. If your team gets a sideout, this score starts all over again. The player that is standing on the even side is server one, and the one on the odd side is server two.
The person who is about to serve calls out the score, for example, 0-0-1, because you are the first server on your team to serve. If the team scores a point after this serve, the points will be 1-0-1. If there is a second player, then it is that player’s turn to serve next. This player will call out the score as 0-0-2 if no points have been scored since it’s now the second player on the team serving.
When it’s the opposing team’s turn to serve, the first serve will be played from the right side or even side of the court. This player will call out the score, for instance, 0-0-1. The first 0 because there is no win on your side, the second 0 because there is no win on the opposing side, and one because they are the first server on their team.
The calling of the score constantly changes according to the perspective of the serving team.
Other Pickleball Scoring Rules
- When either team scores a point, the server then moves to the left side of the court and serves to the opposite side diagonally. Players will continue to switch sides, moving from the right to the left side as points are scored.
- If no points are scored, players on the serving team do not move sides. The opposing team also does not alternate sides.
- The first server continues to serve until a rally is lost by making a fault. The second server will now serve for the team.
- The opposing team will serve once the second server has lost the serve. This pattern continues throughout the game until the 11 or 15 points with at least a two-point lead winning score is achieved.
It is important to note that pickleball, like most sports and games, is often picked up by people who don’t want to play professionally and simply participate for fun. These players may play casually with friends or family and adapt the rules to suit them.
It’s not uncommon for such casual pickleball players to play in sets or rounds, with each round going up to 11 points as a regular game of pickleball would, after which a “best out of three,” or sometimes even a “best out of five,” model is followed.
These rules are not an official part of the Professional Pickleball Association and may not be used in tournaments or formal competitions.
Pickleball is a high-energy and exciting game, breaking many of the traditions and preconceived notions around traditional sports like tennis. Many things were changed as pickleball was formed, and they may confuse some newcomers to the sport. The lack of rounds or sets is one of those factors. But the game excels in its simplicity, making it a fun and easy game to understand.