Pickleball Rules Singles – All You Need to Know

Pickleball rules singles
November 19, 2022
Read Time:7 Minute, 35 Second

If you’ve never heard of pickleball singles before, well, you’re in for a treat. The pickleball singles rules are pretty much similar to doubles, except for serving and calling the score. There’s also one more difference: you don’t get to have a partner to play with.

Most people dread playing pickleball singles because it feels a little isolating and the thought of not having a partner to lean on is quite daunting for them. However, one of the best parts about playing singles is you don’t get to ask many people to play along with you. All you have to do is pick a time, hit the court, and play with a single opponent.

Do you want to know about rules of Pickleball singles? Find out all you need to know with our easy-to-read description of singles rules. Here are the pickleball rules singles you need to know to play with a single opponent.

Rules for Singles Pickleball

  1. The rules for singles pickleball are pretty straightforward. They state: if a player has an even score (0,2,4…), they must make the serve from the right or the even serving area and it should be received in the opponent’s right area. 
  2. If their score is odd (1,3,5…), then they must serve from the left or the odd serving area for the ball to be received in the left region. 
  3. The score of the server decides the serving region. If the score is odd, the player will serve from the odd region, and if the score is even, the player will serve from the even region.
  4. In pickleball singles, you only get to score a point if you’re serving and you have to say your score out loud first, then the opponent’s, before playing the serve. 
  5. If the server loses the rally or is at fault, a side out occurs and the serve is awarded to the opponent. Since there are no partners, there are no second serves either. This way, the server either wins a point or loses the serve. 

Side note: the two-bounce rule is still in effect for pickleball singles. This means each side needs to make a groundstroke after the serve, and before volleying the ball. A groundstroke is a shot played after the ball has bounced, like a dink. 

Players Positioning for Singles Pickleball

Pickleball Rules Singles – All You Need to Know - Players Positioning for Singles Pickleball 1024x768

In singles pickleball, there are a few positioning differences from doubles because there are no partners here. 

The first-ever serve of the singles game begins from the right-hand side of the court, also known as the even side. If the server wins a point, they will have to switch to the other side of the court. 

The server will have to play the shot diagonally on the court. And they get to keep the serve until the rally ends, or they’re at fault. This is usually called a side out.

The server and receiver both need to serve and receive the shots from the right side of the court. If the server has an even score, they need to play the serve from the right side of the court, and the receiver needs to play the return shot from the right side of the court as well.

If the server has an odd score, they need to serve the ball from the left side of the court and play it diagonally to the opponent. The opponent also needs to play the return shot from the left side of the court. 

It is usually a fault if the server plays the serving shot from the wrong side of the court. If a fault is called out before the subsequent serve from the server, then the server will lose the point, while the rest of the points will still stand.

If a fault is called out after the subsequent serve, then the awarded point will stand for the server. 

If a fault occurs on the final point of a pickleball match, the result will stand unless the fault is called before returning the scoresheet to the pickleball tournament crew. 

Pickleball Scoring Rules for Singles

Singles pickleball scoring is adjusted to 11, and a player must be two points ahead of their opponent to win the match. For example, a winner must have a final score of 11 to opponents 9 (or less). If the score is 10-11, the game will continue until one player is two points ahead.

In singles scoring, you just call two numbers: yours and your opponent’s.

One player continues to serve until the point is lost. It is then the opponent’s chance to serve, and they may do so until they lose the point.

Points are awarded for victories but not removed for defeats.

What are Skinny Singles in Pickleball?

The key to leveling up your skinny singles is to warm up before the game, and if you can do an intense workout session, that is even better. Pickleball skinny singles rules is a way for two players to play the game on half the court. 

When the game begins, both players have zero points, so they need to begin from the right(even) side of the court. The server will serve diagonally to the opponent. If the server scores a point, they will move to the odd side of the court and play the serve vertically. 

This way, both the players get to play on only half of the court. 

The scoring, serving and side changing rules all remain the same. 

5 Great Strategies for Pickleball Singles

The singles strategy takes advantage of agility, anticipation, and the ability to hit a variety of strokes because there is double the ground to cover. Because you are alone on your side of the pickleball court, every shot is up to you, and every shot is a one-yard race between you and your opponent.

Here are the strategies you need to learn to master the singles pickleball game:

  1. Master the serve and return. Since there’s more court to cover, a good serve and return can dramatically affect your game. To put pressure on your opponent, you have to hit a deep serve. This will make the opponent move and it will make it difficult for them to hit the ball back with similar force. 
  2. Come to the net as often and as early as you can. If you’re playing a return shot, or even if you’re in the middle of a point, coming close to the net will put a lot of pressure on your opponent. When both the players hit from the baseline, there’s a lot of time for each side to recover and play the return shot. Professional players rarely stay back at the baseline, and come close to the net to apply pressure on the opponent. This will make rallying difficult and you will score a point quicker than staying at the baseline.
  3. Keep the ball to your opponent’s backhand. The forehand is most of the player’s stronger hand, so you have to aim for the opponent’s backhand to make it difficult for them to play the return shot. This tip works wonders for beginner and intermediate level players because top level players incorporate this a lot in their game. You will have to keep pounding your opponent’s backhand (weaker side) till the time they miss a shot.
  4. Make the opponent move. Hit the ball where the opponent is not present, and make them move, it’s as simple as that! When you do this, it will tire out your opponent and therefore, they will have a hard time hitting back with as much force. 
  5. Hit a shot and recover to the middle of the court. When you hit a shot, move to the middle of the court, so your opponent won’t have a big area of open court to take advantage of. Even if you’re in the non-volley line, play a shot and recover to the middle.


What are the rules for playing singles in pickleball?

When striking a serve, the players need to keep both feet behind the baseline. Until the serve is struck, neither foot may touch the baseline or the court. The serve must be delivered diagonally across the service area of the opponent. If the serve comes into contact with any section of the non-volley line, it is deemed “short” and is a fault.

Do you get two serves in singles pickleball?

No, each player gets to have one serve in singles pickleball.

How do you score pickleball singles?

Only the server gets to score a point, and while the game is adjusted to 11 points, the server needs to be two points ahead of the opponent to win the game. 

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Hey, fellow pickleball player!

My name is Ethan Josephson. I am a pickleball enthusiast who has been playing this fantastic game for more than 5 years. Before that I had almost 20-years-experience with tennis and table tennis, but pickleball fascinated me completely.