How To Play Pickleball Doubles

Pickleball is a popular racket sport that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Like many other racket sports, it can be played either between single players or as a doubles game.

However, there are some variations in the pickleball rules for a doubles game versus a singles game – the two variations are not identical.

Pickleball Doubles Rules

Pickleball Doubles Rules

Only the Serving Team Can Score

When playing doubles, you can only score points when you’re the serving team. This rule applies for singles games as well, but it is a good rule to know for all variations of pickleball.

Serving In Pickleball

In pickleball, the player on the right side of the court of the initial serving team makes the first serve attempt and first shot of the game.

This rule also applies after a “side-out” – this is when a team loses the service and the service transfers to the other team.

The server should serve the ball into the area diagonally opposite and the ball should clear the non-volley zone (the zone 7 feet within the net on each side) and bounce in the area beyond that for it to be a legal serve.

Serving In Doubles Pickleball

Service rotates between the players on each team, except for the team that is serving first in the match. The first server of the match will continue to serve and win points until their team commits a fault. At which point, service will transfer to the other team.

From here on, where a serving team commits a fault, the serve will transfer to their partner, and they will continue to serve until their team commits a foul; at which point, service transfers to the opposing team once more. The transfer of service from one team to another is known as a “side out.”

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This rule makes it fairer for the initial receiving team and ensures that the initial serving team does not create a hefty lead too early in the game.

Additionally, as part of the service rule, after each successful serve, the server will alternate service courts. When a point is won on the serve, the server retains serve, but moves to the opposite side of their court and serves from there. The receiving team does not rotate positions when the serving side of the court scores.

When a player loses service, and the serve is transferred to their partner, they retain the same positions as when the serve was lost, and the partner will serve from the side they are currently on. The only time this does not happen is during a “side out” when service transfers to the opposing team, and the serve will start from the right side of the court.

The Double-Bounce Rule

The double bounce rule is a standard rule in both singles and doubles pickleball. It is the name for the rule that requires the ball to bounce once on each side of the net before it can be hit.

When the serving team makes a serve, the receiving team must let the ball bounce on their side of the court before returning it.

If the receiving team makes the return, the serving team should allow the ball to bounce once on their side of the court before returning it.

There are two bounces after every serving sequence, one on each side of the court. After there have been two bounces, players can let the ball bounce on their side of the court before playing subsequent shots, or they can play volleys.

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Calling the Score

When keeping score during a doubles game, it is called three numbers: the server’s score, the receiver’s score, and the server number (whether the server is the team’s first server or second server).

During the first service of the game, the score is called as 0-0-2. The first two zeros represent the fact that no points have been scored yet.

The two refers to the server for the first team being the “second server.” When they lose serve, the serve will transfer to the second team (the first service of the game is different from all serves after, so check out the rule above if you are still unsure).

The first two numbers will switch, depending on which side of the service court the serve is on, and the last number will keep track of who serves next (the partner or the opposing team).

The servers in the game do not always have the same server number throughout the game; it depends on whether they are serving first or second for their team.

End of Game

The game is played until one team’s score is 11 points. However, to win, a team must also win by 2 points.

If one team’s score is 11 points, but there is only one point separating the two teams, the game continues until one team is 2 points ahead of the other and has at least 11 points.

Pickleball Doubles Strategies

Pickleball Doubles Strategies

There are a number of different strategies to take your doubles game to the next level.

  • After you return the ball from a serve, get to the non volley zone line. This reduces the space between you and the other team and makes winning points and rallies easier.
  • Keep your opponents at the baseline. While reducing the distance between you and the other team can be helpful, you also don’t want the opposing team to do the same.
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You can try many different doubles strategies, and you’ll likely develop your own over time.

Final Thoughts

The pickleball rules for a doubles game can take some getting used to, even if you’re very familiar with the singles game. Additionally, playing with a partner on your side of the court can be a little challenging since you’ll have to communicate with them and accommodate them into your game.

However, the rules will become more familiar to you after a couple of games, and the fun will continue.