Pickleball Doubles Rules – What you need to know

Find out what the Pickleball Doubles Rules are

Pickleball doubles rules are basically the same as the singles rules with a few twists.

Here is a quick run through what you need to know for Pickleball doubles rules…

  • Keep both feet behind the baseline when serving.
  • Always start the game with the player on the right hand side.
  • If this player loses the first service, the ball then goes to the opposing team to serve.
  • For subsequent serves, both team members have a turn at serving before the ball is given to the opposing side
  • The serving team must swap positions for each winning point.  The receiving team never swap sides.
  • Serve the ball underhand and to the opposite side of the court.
  • The Pickleball double bounce rule states that the serve must bounce once before being returned.  The returned service must also bounce once before being hit.  Thereafter, you can allow one bounce or hit on a volley.
  • You can not enter the kitchen (non volley zone) to return a shot that has not bounced once.

If you are a new pickleball player who doesn’t have basic knowledge of how the game is played, you’d assume that the game is similar to tennis. While that is exponentially true to an extent, you need to realize that there are some differences.

This article will give you the information you need to play a spectacular doubles game!

Is Pickleball good exercise?  Find out the top health benefits here.


pickleball doubles rules


When it comes to pickleball doubles rules, there are a few factors that you need to know…

Feet behind the baseline when you serve

As with most racquet games, both feet must be behind the baseline when you serve.

Points are scored on the Serve

In Pickleball doubles rules, the points are only scored on the successful serve. The receiving team doesn’t score if there is a fault.

The primary aim of the serving team is to rally the points and win and the receiving team has to somehow induce a fault to them to get a serve for themselves.

Want to know what to look for to get the best Pickleball paddle?  Click here for more in-depth information.

Player on the Right Serves first

Despite which side wins the toss and has the first serve, the Pickleball doubles rule states that the player on the right has the first serve to start the game.  When this first player loses the point, the service goes to the opposing team.  This is ONLY the case in the first serve of the game.

Now that the opposing team has service, the player on the right serves.  When they lose this point the service then goes to their team member.  Only when this team member loses the point does the service go back to the original service team.

Again the player on the right serves.  When they lose the point, their team member then has their service turn.  At a fault, the service is given to the opposing side again.

For people who like numbers…players 1 and 2 are on one team.  Players 3 and 4 on the opposing side.

The doubles scoring goes 1, 3, 4, 1 ,2, 3, 4.  Player 2 does not get a service until the second round.

We always put Erin player 2 – the less time she has serving – the better!!


Rotate the Sides

Another weird yet important rule to the pickleball doubles rule is swapping sides with your team member if you are serving.

When the serving team wins the rally, the server changes sides with their team member.  Each time a point is won after the completion of a rally, the partners have to switch sides.

This is only for the server side.  The receiving side does not swap sides.

Three Score Numbers

Another confusing difference between Pickleball singles and doubles is the three score numbers. Unlike the single scores, the doubles scores are generally called in three numbers, including the server’s score, the receiver’s score, and the server number. Here is an example for a better understanding.

Say, the server has scored 4 points, the receiver has tallied 3 points and the second server from the team is serving. The score for that point will be called 4-3-2. Server-receiver-player.

Colorful Wristbands in Pickleball are common

Another unique rule to doubles in pickleball is wearing colorful wristbands. As weird as it sounds, it is pretty common, especially when it becomes confusing as to who is serving and to whom on which side of the court.  pickleball doubles

These Pickleball wristbands are easy to master and make the process of identifying a lot easier for the players, and the audience.

For example, the first service player wears a rainbow wristband.  This means that when it is that team’s turn to serve and their score is an even number, the person with the rainbow wristband serves.

Pickleball underhand serve

The Pickleball underhand serve must be struck before the paddle passes your naval or waist line.  Your arm must follow through in an upward motion for the service to be valid.

Pickleball double bounce rule

Your serve must travel to the opposing team player diagonally opposite you.  The ball must bounce once between the non volley zone and the baseline in their service section.

When you return the serve, the ball must again bounce once before being hit.  This is known as the Pickleball double bounce rule.

Thereafter the ball can be hit on the full or with one bounce.   More than one bounce each side is a fault and you lose the point.

You only get one service attempt.  The only exception to this is if the ball hits the net – Let – and continues to land in the correct service section.  This point can be replayed.

Pickleball kitchen rules for doubles

The Pickleball kitchen rules for doubles is the same as singles.  You can not enter or make contact with the kitchen or non volley zone to hit the ball without it bouncing first.

This means that nothing on your person – hat, shoes, keys, jewelry – can fall into to this zone either without it causing a fault.

You must stay out to the kitchen to hit the ball unless it bounces.  You can jump across this zone to continue the momentum of your movement but don’t land in it!

This applies to both players.

Click here if you want to know more about the Pickleball Kitchen rules.

Doubles match scoring

Each game consists of the winner of 2 of 3 matches.  Each match has 11 points or one team must be 2 points clear of the other to win.  For example, 9 – 11 or 10 – 12.

Find out about the Pickelball rules for singles by clicking here

Serving rules can be found by clicking here

Final say…

Pickleball doubles rules are slightly different to singles but you will quickly get the hang of the game rules with a little practice.

12 thoughts on “Pickleball Doubles Rules – What you need to know”

  1. In doubles play, when serving the service side serves cross court and the receiving team returns the serve after one bounce. My question is about the receiving team return. Normally, the person positioned near or around the cross court box will make the return. Can the other person on the receiving team return the serve if it bounces first? Sometimes the service team will try and place the serve more to the center and the other receiving player could get it. Is that legal?

  2. Hi Kevin,
    This is a good question and I have seen this happen.

    According to the USAPA Official Rule 4.B.7 states that the correct server must serve from the correct service court and the correct receiver must receive the serve and rule #4.N. states that it is a receiver fault if the incorrect player returns the serve.

    So, regardless of where the server places the service (so long as it correctly lands in the service square) – the diagonally opposite player to the server must be the one that returns the ball.


  3. In doubles, if the server hit the player up by the kitchen, do they get the point or is it a bad serve?

  4. Hi Rick,
    In doubles, there is only one serve and the ball must travel diagonally across the court and land in your opponent’s service área.

    The ball can not come in contact with anything…or anyone. This is a fault.

    The only exception to this is if the ball hits the top of the net and continues into the service area correctly. If the ball hits the net and does not land in the service area – it is a fault.
    The serve now goes to the next player and no point is scored.


  5. Hi Anthony,
    If your team is serving in doubles, only the person serving the ball needs to have both feet behind the baseline.
    The other team player can stand in their “square”, however, there is no restriction on the position of the partner as long as they are on their team’s side of the net.
    Hope you find this helpful, Anthony.


  6. My question is when playing doubles, both players go for the ball at the same time and they accidentally slap paddles, is that a fault?

  7. Hi,
    If both players on the same team accidentally hit paddles but the ball travels legally – that is does not hit any other part of the body, line faults, etc then continue with play. It is not a fault.
    In this case, the ball play is what dictates the fault – not the accidental paddle hit.
    Hope you find this helpful.

    Patty 😉

  8. Hello Anne,

    If you are serving and winning the rally and have a score of 7, you will be serving from the left side of the court.
    Each time you win a point you continue serving however, you switch sides with your partner.

    So if you serve first – it will be from the right hand side of the court.
    If you (and your partner) keep winning points, you continue to serve but just from different sides of the court.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Patty 🙂

  9. Question so in doubles the first server can also be the first server once the opposing team loses their serve? So the other player on the first serving team would not serve till they lose the serve for the second time?

  10. Hi Scott,

    Yes, you are correct. Quoting from USAPA…”At the beginning of each new game, only one partner on the serving team has the opportunity to serve before faulting after which the service passes to the receiving team.” So the second server on the first serving team would not serve until they lose the serve the second time.

    I hope this settles any arguments!!

    Patty 🙂

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