Rule Submission TitleRally-point scoring
USAP Board Voting StatusNot voted upon
USAP Rules Committee Voting StatusFail
IFP Voting StatusAverage: 7.3 Detail:8,3,8,8,10,8,6
Existing Rule #4.B.6 + numerous others
Proposed Rule Change

Doubles. One player on a team will serve before a side out is declared. A side out will occur once a rally is lost or a fault is committed by the serving team and service is awarded to the opposing team.

Original Rule Text

Doubles. Both players on a team will serve before a side out is declared, except at the start of each game, when only the starting server will serve. The starting server of each game is therefore designated as “Server 2” for scoring purposes, since a side out will occur once a rally is lost or a fault is committed by the serving team and service is awarded to the opposing team.

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

Since pickleball was originally developed based on a badminton court and some of the badminton rules, you would expect that rally-point scoring would have been implemented in pickleball back when it was implemented for badminton is 2006. (Volleyball implemented rally-point scoring in 1999).

Pickleball remains the only racquet/net sport that has not permanently implemented a rally-point scoring system!

What is rally-point scoring?

  • The difference between (traditional) side-out scoring and rally-point scoring is that in rally-point scoring a point is awarded after every rally, regardless of which side served.
  • This means that the non-serving side is also able to score points.
  • Unlike side-out scoring where the serve goes from server one to server two and then to the opposing team, in rally scoring, it only goes through one server before going to the opposing team.
  • As a result, the server number is not called out since there is only one server.
  • Server will serve from the side appropriate to their score, i.e. if their score is even the serve will be from the right-hand side, if odd from the left-hand side.


Benefits:

  • The length of the games are more predictable- tournament organizers and TV producers will love this.
  • Builds suspense quicker – more intensity in matches.
  • On crowded courts the games rotate out faster and more people are able to play.
  • Scoring will be more understandable for newbies and spectators.
  • Rally-point scoring is easier for players (and referees) to remember which side of the court the serve should come from. Players would also not have to keep track of the server number since there is only one server, at a time, per side. The players would only have to keep track of the score.
  • With rally-point scoring, an intense rally would result in a point scored, which is much more exciting for the players and for those watching.

Change in Strategy?

I've heard the tired old argument that rally-point scoring will require a change in strategy - how players approach the game. Well it certainly will require players to be even more focused from the start of matches. What it won't change is the fundamental elements of the game and of playing winning pickleball. It will still remain a highly-skilled sport with a great variety and different styles of play.

The Cynics?
It is only natural to resist change when you are performing well under the current scoring system. But let's not underestimate the ability of players to adapt. I am sure that the top players of today will also be the top players under a rally-point scoring system. This change is very unlikely to alter who is expected to win or lose a match but will positively influence the excitement level.

Conclusion:

To increase the passion and engagement in pickleball - to grow our fan base globally and make it accessible to all, we need to make the change to rally-point scoring sooner, rather than later. It's inevitable - let's do it now!

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

This would represent a fundamental change. I believe the change should be immediate and universal, in the same way it was implemented by volleyball in 1999 and badminton in 2006, and has always been used by tennis, squash, racquetball & table tennis.

Suggested match scoring:

  • A match consists of the best of 3 games each to 21 points.
  • The side winning a rally adds a point to its score.
  • Tied at 20, the side which gains a 2 point lead first, wins that game.
  • Tied at 29, the side scoring the 30th point, wins that game.


Note: This can easily be tweaked, e.g. best of 3 or 5 games each to 11 points

Rule Book Year2022
Rule Change ID63
Date CreatedJune 10, 2021
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