How to Play Singles Pickleball

Last Updated on August 9, 2023

Singles pickleball is an exciting and fast-paced variation of pickleball in which two players play against each other. There isn’t a striking difference between singles and doubles pickleball, but singles pickleball generally requires athleticism and stamina, as you have to cover the court all by yourself.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the differences between singles and doubles pickleball, along with strategies that could help you win your next pickleball singles game.

Players Position:

Even Serve:

In singles pickleball, as per USA Pickleball rule 4.B.5.a, if the player’s score is even (0, 2, 4, 6, etc.), then the serve must be made from the right/even serving side and be received on the right/even side of the court. 

Odd Serve:

As per USA Pickleball rule 4.B.5.b, if the player’s score is odd (1, 3, 5, etc.), then the serve must be made from the left/odd serving side and be received on the left/odd side of the court. 

Serve Change:

Associated with USA Pickleball Rules 4.B.5.a and 4.B.5.b, Rule 4.B.5.c, states that the serve will change if the server commits a fault or loses the rally, resulting in a sideout, and the serve is given to the opponent player.

The third rule is one of the differences in serve between singles and doubles pickleball. 

How to Keep Score in Singles Pickleball

Keeping the score in singles pickleball is very simple. Instead of three numbers, the singles score is measured in two digits. Each digit represents the score of either player, and the serve number is omitted. Keep in mind that the serve changes after either player commits a fault or loses the rally.

Hence, the easiest way for you and your opponent to keep track of the score is to loudly say “2-3” (according to the above image) to your opponent. 

How to Become Better in Singles Pickleball – Strategy

Singles pickleball can be challenging for you if you play doubles more often because you have to cover the whole court by yourself. Your stamina should be great and your reaction times faster to gain an edge over your opponent.

Here is a brief strategy to play singles pickleball better.

Hit Deep Shots:

Since you are playing against a single opponent, it would be wise to hit deep shots into the opponent’s play zone, making them cover more area on the court. As a result, you would have more time to prepare and anticipate the opponent’s upcoming shots. 

Eye for Sideline Shots:

When playing singles pickleball, try to play shots that land close to the corners, as it will make the opponent move from the center. As soon as they return the ball, you can play a shot opposite their position. This will make them tired quickly, and you can take that as an advantage.

Steal the Angles: 

Singles pickleball is all about out-maneuvering your opponent with your shots and hitting the ball at the right angle to score a point. Make sure to find open spaces and angles on the court to keep pressure on your opponent. 

Maintain a balance of offense and defense:

Knowing when to defend and when to attack is a key to success in singles pickleball. If you are attacking right from the start without much defense, you might get tired more quickly than your opponent, giving them an edge over you. So always keep a balance between offense and defense. 


Overall, singles pickleball is exciting and fun to play. It really tests your stamina, shot selection, and quick reactions. Improving these aspects of your game will be beneficial for you on the pickleball court whenever you’ll be facing someone in a 1-on-1 pickleball game.


Which team can be the only one to score a point in pickleball?

The serving team or player (in the case of singles pickleball), will win the point if their opponent commits a fault or loses the rally. If the serving team or player commits a fault or loses the rally, the serve is given to the opponent. 

How do I keep track of the score in singles pickleball?

The easiest way is to say the points loudly so that your opponent can also hear them. In singles pickleball, the score is 2 digits, i.e., “3-5”. One player could say “three-five” and that would be fine. 

What is the two-bounce rule in pickleball?

The two-bounce rule says that the ball should bounce one time on each side of the court before any player is allowed to play a volley shot. 

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