Pickleball Doubles Rules – How to Play and Score Pickleball Doubles

Pickleball Doubles is similar to singles pickleball with the main difference being that there are two players to a side.  This changes the game strategy but most importantly, it increases the fun. You will rely on your team mate to help win points. Together you can celebrate, commiserate and enjoy the body aches after a big game.

Pickleball Doubles fun starts here, after you know how to play and score. Please read on or jump ahead using these handy links. Pickle on!

What are the Rules for Pickleball Doubles?

Doubles pickleball rules are very similar to singles pickleball, but the scoring and serving is a little more complex.  The main rules for pickleball apply for doubles, and they can be found in this post on basic pickleball rules for beginners.

The most confusing part of playing doubles pickleball is the serving and scoring. The following points explain everything you need to know.

  • In a doubles game, each player on a team has a chance to serve.
  • Before each serve, the server should call out the score by saying his or her team score first, then the opposing team score and then his or her server number, which may either be one or two.
  • The very first server of the game serves from the right service court.  The player starts as the second server and the very first score of the game is called out as 0-0-2. This means that as soon as the serving team faults and calls a side out, the other team gets to serve
  • If the serving team scores a point, the two players switch places so the first server now serves on the left service court. The serving team will continue switching places until the serving team loses a rally.
  • If the second server loses the rally, a side out is called.  This means the player on the right serves first for the opposing team as server number one.  
  • When the serving team loses a rally, the second server will now serve from their current position. Once the serving team loses another rally. A side out is called and the opposing team now has two chances to serve

Pickleball Doubles Scoring Example

The following example will go through a typical serving and scoring scenario in a pickleball doubles game.

  • The score here is 5-3 with the serving team in the lead.
  • The first server is still serving this score is called out as 5-3-1.
  • The serving team loses the rally. So now the second server will serve and call out the score as 5-3-2. The serving team win the rally, so the serving team will switch places.
  • The second server will call out the score as 6-3-2 and serve.
  • The serving team loses the rally this time so it is side out and now the opposing team has two chances to serve. 
  • The first server on the opposing team will call the score as 3-6-1 before serving.

Doubles Pickleball Strategy for Beginners

Playing doubles pickleball is more fast paced, particularly when all four players are at the Non-Volley Zone (The kitchen). There is more variation in the doubles game and more opportunity to focus on developing skills that you can bring to your singles game, such as playing in the Non-Volley zone.

The doubles pickleball game requires a different skill set than a singles game. It may be less physically demanding but it is important to focus on the following three areas of your game when starting out.

  • Ball Placement – The court has less open spaces to hit the ball and finding those angles is crucial. Building confidence in ball placement, while also perfecting a deep serve and return is crucial. On that little court, there is no where to hide and every point counts.
  • Strong Communication Skills – Playing doubles pickleball doesn’t just require a good serve and volley game.  Strong communication with you partner is required.  This includes your court placement strategy, calling for shots (“Mine!”) and covering each other if a shot is missed. Understanding each others game, strengths and weaknesses is good practice for any budding doubles champions.
  • Team Spirit – You should also encourage your team mate throughout the game between points.  A nice shot should be celebrated. Hi-fives are encouraged.

Your doubles pickleball strategy will evolve as your skill level increases and your ability to play in with a partner improves. Like everything, it takes time and many games of Pickleball.

Final Thoughts

Pickleball doubles is great fun. Keeping track of the scoring, the server and the side to serve from can be confusing. As a Pickleball beginner, focusing on hitting the ball and having fun with your partner is the most important thing. The serving, scoring and strategy involved in pickleball doubles will naturally flow into your game with time. You just need to hit that pickleball court and play as much as you can. It’s as simple as that!

Pickle On!

The Aussie Pickleball Bros.

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