Sunday, May 5, 2013

Know the Score

I am going to continue to explain (make an attempt to explain) Pickleball... so you will 'know the score' when it comes to the sport!

Several of you have asked about the equipment. Pickleball is played with a solid paddle that is a bit bigger than a ping-pong paddle. The combined length and width can be no more than 24 inches. Most paddles are 8" X 15 3/4", but some manufacturers have thinner, longer paddles. The ball is like a baseball size wiffle ball. The one for outdoor play is made of heavier material and has smaller holes.

I just bought this paddle

Once you begin playing the game, you need to have an idea of how to score. Trying to explain it in a blog post is going to be challenging - almost as challenging as keeping track of the score in a game!

"OK, It's two-three-two...No. No. It's three-two-one...
Or is it one-one-two? Can we just start all over?"

Scoring is so puzzling... they even have a T-shirt that jokes about it!

The game is played to 11 points (except in some tournaments) and, like many sports, must be won by a margin of 2 points. So, scores can, and do, go higher.

Each server announces the score before each serve. He will say three numbers:
The first is his team's score.
The second is the opponent's score.
The third is a 1 or 2 to tell if he is the first or second server on his team.

Other than the first service of the game, both players on a side have the opportunity to serve before the serve goes to the opponent's side. Therefore you have server 1 and server 2. For some obscure reason, the inventors of the game thought it would be more fair if only one person has the opportunity to serve on the beginning round of the game, so the beginning score stated by the server is 0-0-2. The team has no points. The opponent has no points and the second server (who is really, in the case, the first server) is getting ready to serve. (Can we make this any more confusing?!!)

Only the serving team earns points for errors made by the opponent's side. Errors might include hitting the ball into the net, hitting the ball outside of the court lines, or missing the ball. If the serving team makes an error, the service is lost and moves to the next server, whether it is the 2nd server on that team, or the 1st server for the opponent's team. No points are scored for either team.

So... let the game begin! Dreaming and Tucker are pitted against Mr. Dreamy and Gypsy. Dreaming will serve. She announces: 0-0-2.
A hush comes over the crowd.
She serves. It is good. The ball bounces and Mr. Dreamy returns it into Tucker's court. He lets it bounce and returns it to Mr. Dreamy. Mr. Dreamy gets excited and tries to slam the ball. It gets stopped by the net.
The crowd stomps their feet and cheers!
Dreaming exchanges places with Tucker and announces the score. It is now 1-0-2. Her team has one point. Mr. Dreamy's team and no points and she is server #2 (even though it is the beginning of the game and she is really the first server!)
Gypsy is in her 'ready' stance. (She's a Border Collie, what more would you expect?!)
Dreaming serves into Gypsy's court. The ball is returned. Tucker gets excited and grabs it before it bounces. Error! The serve moves over to Mr. Dreamy's side.
The crowd makes a collective sigh.
Mr. Dreamy announces the score: 0-1-1. His side has no points. Dreaming's side has one point and he is server #1.
Do you get the picture? So, at some point Mr. Dreamy might announce 5-1-1, which would mean his side now has five points, to one point on Dreamy's side. If Mr. Dreamy's side doesn't score a point, let's say one of them hits the ball out of bounds, then the service would move to Gypsy. She would announce 5-1-2. Five points to one, and she is the second server.

So that is how the game is scored.

On the court, it often sounds like this:

What's the score?
I don't know.
Do they have 3 or 4? 
I can't remember!
Hey, do you guys have 3 or 4? Oh... 5?!
OK, 2-5-1....

Keeping track of the score is almost as challenging as playing the game - although playing is much more fun!


  1. The excitement grew and the crowd hushed as Pickle Ball continued, and thanks for telling us a bit more about it.

  2. yes, thanks for showing the paddle and the balls. I probably have to be there and actually play or see it played to get all the rest. Great that you have found something that really sounds like fun to do.

  3. Are you "hooked on" Pickleball? While in England, my cousin & I spent lots of time watching the Snooker finals & Championship on TV as tickets for the competition in Sheffield are sold out at least eight months before the event. Although it is a "worldwide" game, I'm not certain that Snooker is played in USA however, it is very, very popular in the UK. Just like Pickleball, some of the "finer points" of the game are a mystery, e.g., scoring. And,exactly what is a "Snooker"?



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