Each game is played to at least 11, with a 2-point lead needed to win.
You can only score a point while on the serving side. Points are earned when the receiving team commits a fault.
According to USAPA, a fault is “any action that stops play because of a rule violation.” This includes hitting the ball out of bounds, failing to clear the net on either a serve or a return, allowing the ball to bounce twice after it lands on the court, hitting the ball with anything other than the paddle, volleying from within The Kitchen (see No-Volley Zone), or failing to abide by the Double Bounce Rule (covered below).
If the serving team commits a fault, a side-out occurs and the serve changes sides to the other team. If the receiving team commits a fault, the serving team scores a point.
The game begins with one side serving from their right service court; always underhand, with the paddle below the waist, and the server’s feet placed behind the baseline. The ball has to clear the net and drop in the opposite service court for the rest of the rally or play to begin.
If the serving team scores, the server (and their teammate if playing doubles) has to switch from the right service court to the left (or vice versa), before serving again.
In Doubles Pickleball, if the serving team commits a fault and a side-out occurs, the next time it’s their turn to serve, the serve will go to the teammate on the right service court.
See Faults. A side-out occurs when the serving team commits a fault and results in the serve switching sides to the other team.
If the ball comes in contact with the net on a serve, but still lands in the opposite service court, it’s considered a let, and you get another chance to serve. There’s no limit to the number of lets one gets. However, if you hit the net and fall short of the proper service court, it’s considered a fault, which causes a side-out, and the serve goes to the other team.
The Double Bounce Rule
After every serve, each side has to allow the ball to bounce once on their side before returning it. After both of these bounces have happened, either side can volley as often as they want until another serve begins. A violation of the Double Bounce Rule is considered a fault.
No-Volley Zone (AKA The Kitchen)
The No-Volley Zone, or The Kitchen, goes for 7 feet in on either side of the net, and is meant to keep players from spiking the ball. Within The Kitchen, any volley is considered a fault.