Doubles vs Singles Pickleball - 6 Differences You Need To Know

Pickleball, a sport enjoyed by many for its versatility, can be played in two formats: doubles and singles. Each format has its unique rules, scoring nuances, and strategies. Let's delve into these differences to give you a comprehensive understanding of both styles of play.


Doubles Pickleball

Two women playing doubles pickleball in the middle of a rally.

1. Doubles Rule Specifications:

  • Serving: Each team member in doubles serves before the serve switches to the opposing team, except for the first service sequence of the game where only one team member serves.
  • Positions: Players typically have designated roles, with one player at the net and the other covering the backcourt.

2. Scoring Specifications:

  • Score Call: The score is called with three numbers: the serving team's score, the receiving team's score, and the server number (either "1" or "2"). The score call in doubles is a bit more difficult then singles.
  • Rotation: Team members switch serving sides after scoring points while serving.

3. Strategies:

  • Teamwork: Emphasizes coordination and communication between partners.
  • Coverage: Players must cover their half of the court, making positioning crucial.
  • Dinking and Volleys: A common strategy involves one player setting up shots at the net while the other prepares for volleys and deeper returns.


Singles Pickleball

Man playing singles pickleball.

1. Singles Rule Specifications:

  • Serving: There is no server number in singles. The server serves from the right side of the court when their score is even and from the left when it's odd.
  • Court Coverage: The single player is responsible for the entire court, demanding more mobility.

2. Scoring Specifications:

  • Score Call: The score call is simpler in singles than it is in doubles, involving only the server’s score followed by the receiver's score. You do not need to say the server number, since there is only one server per team.

3. Strategies:

  • Mobility and Stamina: Requires higher levels of fitness due to the need to cover the entire court.
  • Deep Serves and Returns: Utilizing the full court area is common to move the opponent around.
  • Targeted Shots: Players often aim for the corners and lines to stretch the opponent’s coverage.

In summary, doubles pickleball emphasizes teamwork, coordination, and strategic positioning and singles play requires greater physical stamina and the use of the entire court. Both formats have their unique challenges and thrills, offering diverse experiences to pickleball players. Whether you enjoy the collaborative aspect of doubles or the individual challenge of singles, pickleball provides ample opportunity for skill development and enjoyment in both formats.

For more information, strategies and tips on pickleball be sure to check out USA PickleballThe International Pickleball Federation, and the Pro Pickleball Registry! 


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