Format & Scoring


  • Teams will play two matches per night.
  • Matches will follow a best-of-three game format.


  • Pickleball scoring is not rally-point. Teams can only score points when they have the serve.
    • Game 1 - first team to 15 points (must win by two to a max of 21)
    • Game 2 - first team to 15 points (must win by two to a max of 21)
    • Game 3 (if necessary) - first team to 11 points (must win by two to a max of 15)
  • A total of 5 combined points must be played in the final game for the result to count.
  • Teams will switch sides after each game.

General Playing Guidelines

Service and Rotation

  • All serves must be underhand, and contacted below the waist (not on a bounce).
  • Teams can use any suitable means to determine who gets to serve first in Game 1, or pick a side.
    • Service and sides will alternate between teams for Game 2.
    • If a 3rd game is required, teams must re-determine who gets serve or side. Teams will switch sides in Game 3 once one team has reached 5 points.
  • The team that starts the game with the serve, will start on their 2nd serve. They only get one service game to start.
    • After this initial service game is played out, each team will always have both players serve during each remaining service game.
  • The serving team always starts with the player currently in the right-hand-service-court.
  • Players on the serving team alternate between the service-courts after each point.
  • A maximum of 5 consecutive points are allowed per server.
  • Receiving players are to call the ball in or out of bounds. If there is a dispute, re-serve with no point awarded.

Returning the Ball

  • Double Bounce Rule: Each team must play their first shot off of the bounce, or as a ground-stroke.
  • Non-Volley Zone: Also known as the “kitchen.” Extends out approximately 7 feet from each side of the net.
    • A player cannot step on the non-volley zone line or into the zone itself when making a volley (hitting the ball in the air).

Violations & Faults

  • Players are expected to know the Pickleball rules and call their own faults. If an obvious fault is missed, a player on the opposing team may politely point this out, assuming that their opponent either does not know the rule or missed their own fault. Generally, teams should not call faults against their opponents.

Service Faults:

  • The server foot faults; touching the back line or court during the serve.
  • The server misses the ball when trying to hit it.
  • The ball does not land in the diagonal service-court area.

Gameplay Faults:

If the ball does any of the following, it is considered a fault:

  • Lands outside the boundaries of the court.
  • Fails to pass over the net.
  • Touches the side walls.
  • Touches a player or their clothing.
  • Is caught and held on the paddle and then slung during the execution of a stroke.
  • Is hit more than once by the same team (double hit).

Player Faults:

If a player does any of the following, it is considered a fault:

  • Double Bounce Rule Violation.
  • Non-volley zone Violation “Stay out of the kitchen!”
  • Fails to return the ball before it bounces twice on their side of the court.
  • Touches the net or its supports with their body, paddle or clothing.
  • Crosses the plane of the net with their body, paddle or clothing.

Note: Hard smashing is discouraged in ESSC Pickleball leagues, please respect the level of your opponents.