Pickleball Singles Rules: Everything You Need to Know

In Pickleball, the terms “Singles” and “Doubles are used when describing the game type. Singles Pickleball is played similarly to Doubles Pickleball with a slight difference and different strategy.

A Singles Pickleball game has only one player on each side of the court. The objective of this game is to score points by hitting the ball over the opponent’s court while following certain rules. Singles Pickleball will be a great workout (more than Doubles Pickleball) as a single player needs to cover the entire Pickleball court.

In this quick guide, we will learn more about playing Singles Pickleball, including court rules, pickleball serving tips, and strategies for scoring well.

Pickleball Singles Rules

Singles Pickleball has the same rules as Doubles pickleball, with just a few exceptions. For example, the Pickleball rules for serving, the non-volley zone, line calls, and faults are the same for singles and doubles Pickleball games.

pickleball singles rules

Singles Pickleball differs from doubles Pickleball in,

  • Each player has only one serve
  • There is no third number in the score as there is no concept of server #1 or server #2
  • In a scoreboard, the first number will be the server’s score and the second one is the receiver’s score.

Pickleball Serving Rules for Singles

Singles Pickleball has its own rules for serving and gameplay and four important things to know that have an impact on scoring and the overall sequence:

  1. The first serve should always start on the Even/right-hand side of the pickleball court.
  2. If the server wins their first serve, that same player makes the next serve on the left-handed side of the pickleball court.
  3. The same player continues to serve, switching between the right and left sides of the court until the opponent wins the rally or the server commits a fault.
  4. If the opponent wins the rally or the server committed a mistake, then the opponent will now serve as there is a side out.

By understanding these 4 simple concepts of serving, you can understand that the score will always be even when served from the right side and odd from the left.

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Firstly, the serve will be made diagonally cross-court and must be out of the non-volley zone. The server should keep a foot behind the baseline until the ball is served.

Player Positioning for Singles Pickleball

Player positioning is very important on the serve and the return of the serve. After the serve, the correct server should serve the pickleball from the correct side and the receiver must return the serve from the correct side.

After the serve, both players should let the ball bounce once before hitting it. After the ball has bounced, the players can either volley (hit in the air without letting it bounce) or hit it.

When playing, Players must stay out of the Non-volley zone until the ball bounces inside. If he steps in before the ball bounces in the non-volley zone, then the player is at fault.

Guide to Pickleball Scoring Singles

The correct serve is rewarded with points to the player. Remember, only the serving player scores points. so even if your opponent beats you when you are serving, they won’t earn a point. Rather, they will get the chance to serve and gain points. To end a pickleball game, a total of 11 points has to be earned or beat your opponent by 2 or more points. While some games are played for 15 to 21 points, the majority of the games are played for 11 points.

* If the server’s score is even (0,2,4,6,8,10 etc.) then the serve must be done from the Right-hand side/even side of the pickleball court and served to the receiver’s even/right-hand side of the court.

* If the server’s score is odd (1,3,5,7,9 etc.) then the serve must be done from the left-hand side/odd side of the pickleball court and served to the receiver’s odd/left-hand side of the court.

Using the odd and even serving sides, it is easier to track the scores.

Also Read:  Pickleball Scoring Rules For Dummies

If the server is found to be in the wrong position, then the player will lose the rally due to fault. The fault can be called until the next serve occurs.

If a fault occurs before the subsequent serve, then no points will be awarded and the player loses the Rally. But all the previously gained points will not be decreased (even if the player was in the wrong position).

Suppose the fault was called, after the subsequent serve, then the point will be retained.  The fault in the last point will stand unless the fault is called before returning the scoresheet.

Basic Singles Pickleball Strategy

Singles pickleball has a different strategy than double Pickleball. Every choice and effort is made by only you as you rule the whole Pickleball court on your side. Every shot is a race between you and your opponent. 

Learn these key tricks to master the single Pickleball game:

*Big, Deep Serve- Deep serve is an important strategy in a single pickleball game. You need to serve deep and hit a big shot to make the opponent run and make their return to baseline longer. Use the first shot to give an edge over your opponent.

Deep serve is much needed to avoid hitting the net and being at fault.

*Big, Deep, Return of Serve- A big deep return of the serve is important so that you can return to the Pickleball net and cut your opponent’s angles and make them lose.

Return to the serve corner, move into the non-volley zone line (also called as Kitchen Zone), and cut the opponent’s angles on your third shot.

*Serve near “T” on the Pickleball court- Hit your serve towards the middle(T) of the opponent’s side but within the correct service box. This “T” point is the Center point of the baseline and centerline of the court. It will help to cut down opposite players’ chances to hit a lot of angles.

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*Move into the Non-Volley Zone Line- Work out on the angles to defeat your opponent’s angles. Try to strike on the non-Volley Zone line to cut off the angles of your opposite players. By following the flight of pickleball, you can cut down the opposite player’s ability to hit a lot of angles with serve return.

*Strong Fundamentals and Placements- Single pickleball and double pickleball require strong fundamentals and placements. In single pickleball, you need very strong fundamentals as there is no partner to back up the strike.

*Angles and Passing shots- Singles Pickleball game victory lies in the strategy of finding an open court space. Try to make a strike in the open court places and angles of your opposite player to earn the reward points.

*Getting back your serve- Suppose you have a bad return of serve, stay back at the baseline and play defensive until you win back the serve.

*Come in to Kitchen line- One common thing between doubles pickleball and singles pickleball is that a majority of points are won in the non-volley Zone line (Kitchen Line). By coming to the non-volley line, you can cut off your opposite player’s game angles.

*Do your Cardio- Singles Pickleball is a one-yard sprint to each shot, as you have the entire pickleball court to cover. So it can be taxing to your body. In other words, in singles pickleball, the one who has high stamina wins the match! To increase your stamina and endurance, make sure you work on your cardio before playing a pickleball game. Jogging, cross-training, or any physical exercises are a few cardio exercises that help to raise your heart rate and increase your stamina.

By having a basic understanding, you are able to pick well in a pickleball game more efficiently. If you have not given it a try in a pickleball game, then it’s time to give it a shot, and with a little dedication and practice, you will soon become a pro in understanding the rules!