What’s the rule ???

Hello you pickleballers,

We had a good couple of days at the Club’s courts. Lot’s of dinking and some impressive smashes, but also some confusion about order of play, like who serves or receives when there’s a “side out” after a team loses the service. Let’s start by quoting the rule book (please excuse the necessary but complicated language)

  • “When the serving team’s score is even (0,2,4,6,8,10) the player who was the first server in the game for that team will be in the right-side court when serving or receiving ; when odd (1,3,5,7,9) that player will be in the left-hand court when serving and receiving.”

Well, that settles it! Or maybe not!  So let’s see how that plays out for a few points:

Let’s say team A/B wins the spin and elects to serve first against team C/D.  As the initial serve is always from the right-side of the  court, player A serves from there after calling the score, 0-0-2, which is his/her team’s score (0), the other team’s score (0), with  the “2” recognizing that the team starting to serve in a game only gets to have one player serve, hence the last and only server. From here on in the game, when A/B team’s score is an even number (0, 2,4,..),  “A” will be on the right-side and “B” on the left-side for serving and receiving, and vice versa when their score is an odd number. In this case, “A” relinquishes service, not having gotten a point.

“Side out”  now happens and team C/D serves, with C electing to serve first, from the required right-side of the court.    From here on in the game, when C/D team’s score is an even number (0, 2,4,..),  “C” will be on the right-side court and “D” on the left-side court for serving and receiving, and vice versa when their score is an odd number. “C” then serves after calling the score (0-0-1), their team score (0), the opponent’s score (0), and “1” that recognizes that “C” is the first server of the team. “C” does not make a point so the service goes to “D,” who serves from the left-side court with a score of 0-0-2. Let’s say “D” makes a point and then misses one.

“Side out” now happens and A/B gets the service back, with “A” serving from the right-side with the score 0-1-1 . “A” makes a point and then serves from the left-side with the score 1-1-1 to “C” on their left-side court (remember C’s on the left-side whether serving or receiving when their team score is an odd number  ). “A” doesn’t make point and “B” serves from…… you got it, their right-side ’cause the team score is an odd number (1).  “D” receives on their right-side with their score still an odd number.  So, on and on………

Hope you are informed, if not fallen fast asleep.

2 thoughts on “What’s the rule ???

  1. Say team member A has been serving and winning several points and score is now 7 to 3 when opponents notice he is about to serve from wrong court and obviously has been serving from wrong court for awhile. Does score stay at 7 to 3 and he continues to serve from correct court, or is it side out even though no one called it on last point and score goes back to 6 to 3, or all previous points he served from wrong side don’t count and it is side out?


  2. Very good question. In social play (no ref), I’d expect score would only go back to 6 to 3. In a tourney, ref confirms the order before allowing play to continue, so I guess would call a fault (loss of service) if order not followed with score back to 7 to 3. I’ll check further, and have asked my Florida plickleball leader for comment as well.


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