Skinny Singles Pickleball – All the Details you Need to Know

Find out how to play Skinny Singles Pickleball

Skinny singles Pickleball is a variation of the Pickleball singles rule.

Here is a quick rundown of how to play skinny singles Pickleball…

  • Like singles, only 2 people play
  • Play is on only half the court
  • This can be cross court – serving and returning diagonally across the court
  • Or can be down the line – serving and returning on only one half of the court

Pickleball is really starting to become popular and is gaining traction. With more and more player tapping into this game, knowing the basic rules can be a complete game changer. While the straightforward singles and doubles games are easy to understand, the Skinny Singles is one of those options that not many players know about.

Don’t worry though because we have all the information you need to know about Skinny Singles and the rules associated with it.

This article should answer every query that you have.

Click here if you want to know how to find the best Pickleball paddle

skinny singles pickleball

What is Skinny Singles?

Skinny singles is a variation of the singles rules in Pickleball.

If you aren’t aware of Pickleball, the game is played either in singles or doubles in a court similar to what you’d play badminton on.

However, during the singles games, the players are positioned diagonally and the serve is made accordingly across the court.

In the skinny singles game of Pickleball, only one-half of the court is used for the game. The shot selections and the strategies in skinny singles are often similar to what you’d typically use in a doubles pickleball game rather than the singles.

The game is played among two players, one on either side of the court.  Since you are responsible for your shots, there is no one to blame if you fault or miss as in doubles.

How to play Skinny Singles in Pickleball?

Although the game is played on just one-half of the court, the rules of skinny singles are pretty much the same as the regular singles game in Pickleball.  The only difference with the regular singles is that the players will have to hit or serve the ball cross-court into the opponent’s side.

Depending on your skinny singles option is whether the ball is served on the same side of the opponent’s court or diagonally.

There are three techniques involved when it comes to skinny singles in Pickleball:

Around the post shots 

This is the modification of the cross-court shots in pickleball.

For the ATP (around the post) shot, it is hit across the cross-court into the other half of the opponent’s court.  This shot is usually performed while you are running outside the court lines to return a shot that has bounced inside the court correctly.

So long as the original bounce is correct, you can hit the ball from outside the court lines, around the post and into your opponent’s court area without it traveling directly over the net.

Down the line shots

Although the traditional skinny singles is played as cross-court service and return, the down-the-line shot is done in a way in which the players are positioned on either side of the court based on their score.

Take for example. If the score is at 2-2, both the server and the opponent will be placed on their even sides and the cross-court serving is done from there. However, if the score stands at 3-2, the server (winning player) is placed on the odd side while the opponent is placed on the even side and the game is played as a cross-court game.

Remember that in Pickleball, the serving player changes sides for each service.  The receiving player stays on the same side.  This creates the same side service and return.

Also, if serving straight to the opponent seems odd, there are rules placed that enable the server to play cross-court for ease of understanding of the game.

Combination of the two

Besides the cross-court or down-the-line shots, there are different variations too.  This is ideal for the players who want an easier user experience combining both the methods in question.

With this option, the game typically starts with both the players standing on the even sides of the court.

The first score then switches the sides to the odd side of the court. The basic understanding behind this method is that the position of the player depends on the scoring of the players.

Do you know the Pickleball court dimensions?  Click here to find out more.


How to Improve your Skinny Singles Game?

Skinny singles in Pickleball is great to play as a training drill.  You can play like a doubles game and practice your stroke without lots of running.

We have listed some aspects that you can improve with your game playing skinny singles…

Strengthen your serve

Since only the serving player wins the point, it isn’t surprising that you need to focus on your serve.  If your hits are hard to return, the better your chances to score the points.

Your main function is to ensure that you learn how to hit deep into the cross-court.  If you hit in a shallow, your opponent is likely going to return your serve.

Attacking the net

Besides the non volley zone, you need to move forward into the court to ensure that you can return the ball.  Doing this puts pressure on your opponent pushing them deeper into the court for their service return.

Assess your opponent

It doesn’t matter if you are playing with an opponent that you know or if it is with someone new, knowing how your opponent can respond is important.

Knowing your opponent’s weaknesses is key in this case. Focus on their backhand return or even their stance when they are serving or returning the ball.  Can you exploit any of their habits?

Focus your shots on the side where your opponent isn’t 

Your opponent’s position is critical when it comes to skinny singles Pickleball.

This means that if you want a higher chance at winning, you need to focus your shot where the opponent isn’t.   Doing this forces the opponent to move to the other side of the court where the ball is.  This will make them run and potentially miss the shot.

What are the benefits of Skinny Singles?

Some of the benefits of Skinny Singles Pickleball are:

  • Helps build accuracy with your shots
  • Understand different shot techniques depending on the court positioning
  • Improve overall fitness
  • Ideal for practice matches for tournaments
  • Improve your skills and talent level

Is Pickleball good exercise?  Find out the top health benefits of this fun game here.


If you are just starting with pickleball we’d recommend that you look into playing skinny singles.

These are ideal for beginners and help in polishing your skills for the better. Just ensure that you follow the rules, understand the basic concepts, and then implement the right strategies to win the game of skinny singles Pickleball!