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pickleball singles

How to Play Singles Pickleball the Right Way


Singles pickleball is a fun and exciting game for two that can be enjoyed by athletes of all levels. While the basic rules of the game remain the same for both singles and doubles pickleball, the one-on-one matches in singles pickleball does add more challenge and pressure to the game. In this guide, we’ll be talking about how to play singles pickleball the right way. This means learning:

  • The basics of singles pickleball
  • Fouls and faulty serving
  • The difference between singles and doubles
  • Scoring in singles
  • Positioning tips and different shots you can play
  • Defensive strategies

If you’ve read the singles strategies by USA pickleball and want to learn more, stick around until the end! We’ll also be including some extra pickleball tips to help you play better. 

The Basic Rules of Singles Pickleball 

When it comes to pickleball singles, the rules are similar to doubles pickleball but with a few minor exceptions. For one, only two players are on the court in a pickleball singles match. Each player gets one serve that continues until a fault is committed.

Additionally, pickleball singles has an incredibly important rule that states you can’t hit the ball twice in a row, as each point must be served before it can continue!

1. Faulty Server During Pickleball Singles Game

In a singles pickleball game, if the server commits a fault during their serve, the receiver does not automatically get the point. Instead, the server loses the serve, and the serve moves to the opposing side. The opposing player now has the opportunity to serve and score points for himself.

This rule maintains fairness in the game. It penalizes the server for errors during the serve but does not award points to the receiver based solely on the server’s fault. The game continues with the new server taking their turn to serve, and points are earned based on the outcomes of the rallies.

faulty serve

Here are some service faults while playing singles pickleball that you need to be aware of. It is a fault if:

    • The ball does not bounce once on the server’s side of the court before crossing over to the opponent’s side.
    • The server double hits the ball.
    • The ball lands outside of the opponent’s service zone.
    • The server’s foot or feet are not behind the baseline when the ball is struck.
    • The server touches the net or the net post with any part of their body or paddle.

When a player notices a fault in pickleball, they should call it out immediately, before the next shot is hit. If the fault is called out correctly, the ball becomes “dead”, and the player who committed the fault loses the rally.

However, the player who committed the fault can challenge the call. The referee will then review the play and make a decision. If the referee rules that the player did not commit a fault, the rally will continue. The referee can choose to penalize the player who wrongly called out the fault, especially if it happens a lot.

2. Singles Pickleball Scoring

In singles pickleball games, different rules apply when it comes to scoring. Points are only earned by the server. One point is scored each time the serve successfully crosses over the net and lands on the opposite court. 

The receiver must return it without touching the net in order for a successful rally to occur. Games are generally played up to 11 points (win by two) or 15 points (win by two). 

pickleball score board

3. Positioning for Singles Pickleball 

Positioning is key when playing singles pickleball because you want to maximize your court coverage. You also want to leave enough time for yourself to hit shots back over the net.

For beginners, try standing just behind or on the baseline so that you can get as many balls back as possible without overextending yourself too much. 

As you become more experienced with singles pickleball. You can adjust your positioning accordingly depending on who you’re playing against and what type of shots they like to hit.

How To Hit Different Shots in Singles Pickleball?

You can use several types of shots to dominate your opponent in singles pickleball. One popular shot is the drop shot, where you hit a soft lob over the net into your opponent’s service box. This requires timing and precision, but can be very effective if done correctly!

hit different shots

Another great shot is an angled groundstroke, which allows you to bounce off one side of the court before hitting it back toward your opponent’s feet. This shot often catches them off guard!

Finally, don’t forget about smashes, which are powerful overhead shots that put an end to any rally quickly!  

Defensive Strategies for Singles Pickleball 

Defensive strategies are essential when playing singles pickleball. They allow you enough time to react and return shots without getting overwhelmed by your opponent’s aggression. One strategy is to try to keep at least one foot behind the baseline so that you have plenty of room for retreat if needed. 

Additionally, always keep an eye on where your opponent is moving so that you can anticipate where their next shot will go. This will help prevent any surprise attacks!  

Tips on How to Play Singles Pickleball Better

In general, to play singles pickleball better, you just need to practice and keep practicing. But here are some specific tips to help you improve:

  • Focus on improving one area at a time like your serve accuracy, instead of trying to do everything all at once.
  • Stay loose during rallies! Tensing up will only slow down your reaction time.
  • Be patient and focus on your footwork. Singles pickleball is a fast-paced game, so it’s important to be able to move quickly and efficiently.
  • Use your backhand as much as possible. Most players have a weaker backhand, so hitting to their backhand is a good way to win points.
  • Don’t be afraid to come to the net. If you can get to the net before your opponent, you’ll have a better chance of winning the point.
  • Be aggressive. Singles pickleball is a game of momentum, so you need to be aggressive and take control of the point.

tips playing better singles

Remember that even though winning is important, having a good time should always be priority number one when playing sports like pickleball! 

The Difference Between Singles and Doubles Pickleball

Pickleball can be played as either singles or doubles. And there are actually more similarities than there are differences between the two. However, when it comes down to strategy and rules, there are clear differences between singles and doubles pickleball. 

For one, singles pickleball is more physically demanding. This is because players have to cover the entire court on their own. For another, doubles pickleball is more strategic, as players have to work together to cover the court and win points.

Here’s a table showing the differences and similarities between singles and doubles pickleball:

Feature Singles Doubles
Number of players 2 4
Court size Same Same
Non-volley zone (NVZ) Yes, 7 feet from the net Yes, 7 feet from the net
Strategy More emphasis on individual skill and athleticism. More emphasis on teamwork and communication.
Scoring Players serve and score just like in traditional pickleball, but they only get one serve per turn. Each team gets two serves before the other team serves.

Play Singles Pickleball Today!

Playing singles pickleball correctly takes skill, strategy, and practice. But with dedication and hard work, anyone can become great at this sport! Follow our guide above to understand basic rules and positioning tactics. Learn how to hit different types of shots and employ defensive strategies.

You’ll be able to find your way around any court with ease and confidence, and learn how to play single’s pickled ball like a pro in no time!