Will Rally Scoring Serve Up a Better Singles Game?

Mary Brascia
Mary Brascia PPA 2024 (Picture Kerry Pittenger)

Pickleball is at a crossroads. The recent provisional approval of rally scoring for singles by USA Pickleball has started a debate. This new system, where any player can win a point regardless of serve, promises faster matches and potentially more excitement. But will it fundamentally alter the strategic core of the game, turning singles into a watered-down version of doubles?

Proponents of rally scoring like its fast-paced nature. Traditional side-out scoring, where a server must win two consecutive points to score, can lead to long rallies with minimal reward for the non-serving player. Rally scoring rewards every point, keeping players on their toes and potentially increasing viewership appeal.

However, traditionalists argue that rally scoring undermines the server’s advantage. The serve is a powerful weapon in pickleball, and the current system rewards a strong server with the opportunity to build points. Rally scoring, they fear, could lead to a one-dimensional game focused solely on powerful returns.

I think you should have to serve to win. I like that. But not a fan of rally scoring.

Kerry Pittenger, pickleball photographer

I do like the rally scoring, we tried it in our league a few weeks ago. I think the game times are shorter. Sitting at score 0-0 for 10 minuets doesn’t happen anymore.

Nitesh Vijay, contributing writer

Traditional scoring encourages players to exploit the weaknesses of the returning player on the second serve. Rally scoring might homogenize strategy, with both players simply aiming for outright winners on every point. This could reduce the tactical depth that makes singles pickleball so rewarding for skilled players.

Does rally scoring shorten matches without sacrificing strategic nuance? Does it improve viewership and participation, which pro pickleball definitely needs more of…

I’m excited to see how this new format unfolds. What do you think about rally scoring? Would you be interested in trying it out at a local league or tournament? Share your thoughts in the comments below! If you are looking for all the rules and how to play pickleball, you can check Mike’s easy to follow guide.

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About Dan Langston

With experience in the ecotourism industry and time well spent as a fly fishing guide in the remote absaroka mountain range for 6 years, Dan brings a unique perspective on customer service to the digital world. As the operator, Dan is now committed to revitalizing Pickleball Portal and plans to build a support system for content creators and provide helpful information for the pickleball community. dan@pickleballportal.com

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