singles pickleball rules

Singles Pickleball Rules: A Comprehensive Guide To Playing Solo

Struggling to adapt from playing doubles to singles in pickleball? You’re not alone! It’s a whole new ball game when it comes down to one-on-one on the court. This guide will equip you with all the rules, tactics, and secrets for conquering singles pickleball like a champ.

Let’s dive right in.

Key Takeaways

  • Singles pickleball has one player on each side.
  • The serve starts from right if the score is even and left for odd scores.
  • Points are earned by the server only and games are usually played to 11 points with a 2-point lead.
  • Knowing faults like stepping into the non-volley zone can help avoid losses in rallies.
  • Winning requires good positioning and quick reflexes at the net.

Understanding Singles Pickleball

In the exciting world of pickleball, playing singles offers a unique challenge, requiring individual strategy and endurance. Learn all about what exactly constitutes a singles game and discover how it differs from the popular doubles format in this insightful guide.

What Is a Singles Pickleball Game Exactly?

A singles game in pickleball implies that there’s just one player on each side of the court. Unlike doubles pickleball which engages two players per team, singles necessitates an individual to single-handedly cover the entire court area during play.

Despite some similarities with doubles such as serving rules, Non-Volley Zone requirements, and faults, its playing strategy differs significantly since you have no partner to rely or lean on.

Highly demanding physically, a robust approach and proper strategies become crucial for victory in this variant of pickleball.

Differences between Singles and Doubles

Singles and doubles pickleball games have notable differences, especially in terms of rules, court coverage, and strategies. Here’s a comprehensive comparison:

Singles PickleballDoubles Pickleball
Court CoverageOne player covers the entire court on their own.The court is shared between two players.
StrategyThe strategy in singles pickleball is similar to tennis as the court is more open to hitting winners.Doubles strategy involves teamwork and coordination between partners and relies heavily on dinking and third shot drops to set up points.
ServingEach player only has one serve.Both players gets to serve before the service passes to the opposing team.
ScoringThe score in singles pickleball consists of two numbers – the server’s score and the receiver’s score.The score consists of three numbers – the server’s score, the receiver’s team score, and the serving team’s serve number.

Basic Rules for Singles Pickleball

Learning the rules of singles is crucial – it begins with understanding player positions, includes mastering serving and scoring guidelines, and ends with anticipating faults and violations.

With this knowledge in your toolkit, you’re well on your way to ace every game!

Serving Rules

Powering up your singles game begins with understanding the serving rules. First, it’s essential to know that each player only has one serve unlike in a doubles game. The server must always serve from behind the baseline and can start serving from either right or left-hand side of the court based on their score. Just like doubles pickleball, if the server’s score is even, they will serve from the right-hand side and if odd, from the left-hand side.

Scoring Rules

In singles pickleball, unique scoring methods help guide play.

  • The score in singles pickleball constitutes two numbers: first the server’s score and then the receiver’s score.
  • Points can only be gained by the server.
  • A player serves from different sides of the court depending on if their score is odd or even when beginning serving.
  • When starting at 0-0 or even number scores, serve from the right-hand side of the court, while serving at an odd-numbered score will mean starting at the left-hand side of the court.
  • The server continues to serve as long as they win each rally.
  • A fault causes a loss in rally and a loss in serve opportunity for that round.
  • To win a game with standard scoring, players need to reach 11 points first with a minimum lead of 2 points over their opponent.

Faults and Violations

Recognizing faults and violations is as important as understanding the game itself. Here are a few main faults to look out for.

  • A fault occurs if the server serves from an incorrect position on the court.
  • Players must let the ball bounce once on each side before hitting a volley, known as the double bounce or two bounce rule.
  • The player commits a fault if he or she strikes the ball while standing in the non-volley zone.
  • Landing a serve outside of the opponent’s service court causes a serving fault.
  • Players commit a fault if the receiver doesn’t let the ball bounce once before returning it after serve.

Winning Strategies for Singles Pickleball

Mastering singles pickleball requires a perfect blend of understanding your court positioning, picking the right equipment, and mastering volley along with accurate line calls.

Court positioning

Excellent court positioning is vital to mastering singles pickleball. It essentially boils down to effectively controlling the center of your side of the court, and always being ready to respond quickly towards both sides.

Stay behind the baseline until you hit your return and then move forward close to the kitchen line to prepare for a volley. This mid-court position equips a player better to defend all corners with minimal movements thus allowing more control over rally flow and opponent’s placement choices.

Understand how crucial it is for our server to serve from the correct side based on their score—losing a rally due to wrongful positioning could be frustrating!


Quality gear is crucial to excel in singles pickleball. Your performance on the court hinges largely upon your choice of equipment and most importantly, a paddle. Selecting one that complements your play style aids you in successful shots.

A paddle offering greater control caters well for slicing, lobbing or hitting the ball strategically across varied angles.

Pickleball balls also bear substantial importance as variations exist between indoor and outdoor designs due to differing wind conditions and surface types. Also, never overlook quality pickleball shoes – they must ensure optimum comfort while granting quick incisive movements on the court.


Mastering the volley is a critical tool in singles pickleball and potentially leads to winning points by applying pressure on your opponent. This tactic involves hitting the ball before it bounces, requiring swift reflexes and accurate placement of the ball.

Volleys are particularly effective when near the non-volley zone line, providing an opportunity to force your opponent into a defensive position.

Proper footwork and agility can help set up these tricky shots while enhancing endurance throughout play.

Line calls

Line calls in singles pickleball demand keen observation skills. Whether it’s the opponent’s ball skimming past the non-volley line or a server stepping over the service line, being proactive and making accurate calls increases your sportsmanship level.

Remember, every boundary on the pickleball court matters in singles play, from service boxes to sidelines. In situations that spark disagreement about the position of a landed ball, opt for fair resolve – if there is any uncertainty regarding whether or not a shot was out of bounds, giving your opponent the benefit of the doubt can keep up good sportsman spirit during matches.

Making successful line calls will become smoother over time as you grow more comfortable with understanding and implementing official rules into games.


Playing singles pickleball brings a unique intensity and challenge to the court. It not only tests your skills but also your endurance, which makes it even more rewarding when you score points.

Embracing these rules and strategies will raise your game, making every match an opportunity for growth. Always remember, every pro was once a beginner who dared to learn!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does serve work in singles Pickleball?

The first serve always begins from the right side when starting up a new game and subsequent serves also occur depending on if the server wins rally – then they switch sides before their next serve!

Can strategies used for doubles be applied directly to a game of singles pickleball?

Some strategies can translate; however, playing pickleball solo typically requires robust fundamentals plus good angles for passing shots as well as endurance and cardio to cover all areas behind baseline by yourself.

Can You Play Pickleball with Just 2 People?

Yes, you can absolutely play pickleball with just two people. This is known as singles pickleball and it offers a more strenuous workout as each player is responsible for the entire court.

Do You Serve Once or Twice in Singles Pickleball?

In singles pickleball, you serve once per side. You continue serving until you lose the point.

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