Is Rally Scoring The Future of Pickleball?

I have seen and heard a lot of discussions on whether Pickleball should have rally scoring. I’ll give my opinion and then ask you guys if you think it should be changed.

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I personally don’t like it. First, scoring after each point would make the games much faster unless you changed scoring completely as well. Second is my biggest reason for not wanting it. I love the fight that you have to make get the ball back. There is something satisfying about fighting for it. If you want those points you really have to earn them by playing some smart defense and stopping your opponent. It makes me work harder with every play and makes the win that much sweeter.

What are your thoughts on rally scoring in pickleball? Do you think there are venues where it is needed?

Do you ever see rally scoring happening in the future of pickleball?

Why do you personally like or dislike rally scoring?

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I like rally scoring for single sometimes it’s faster and still a really good work out if you have more then two playing it makes it a fast rotation on the court and makes each point matter. I don’t like it for doubles I agree I like to play the full game out and win back the ball.

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That is actually a really good point about singles. Playing singles is rough when you are playing multiple games back to back. You can get winded very quickly. Maybe some don’t see it as a problem because at some of the bigger tournaments you can have 3 hours between games. I could see rally points happening in singles play faster than doubles but it would be nice to always have it go to 15.

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Rally scoring has some advantages. I think Rally scoring has the greatest advantage to the team that can get on a run first. Especially if the goal is to win by two it will be very easy to win with Rally scoring. Rally scoring also puts more pressure on the team that is down. I think back to the game with Ben and Collin John’s playing against Kyle Yates and Matt Wright at chicken N pickle where Ben and Collin came back from being down 10 to 1. I believe rally scoring takes that away. It would allow for games to move quicker. Although I would want the games to be more like volleyball where the games are first 221 or something like that. It would also need to be win by two.

Personally I like how it is now. I like the deadlock moments because it feels like either side could break out and get points at any moment. That would be cut short with rally scoring. Thoughts?

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I love the deadlock moments because it adds a drama to the game.

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A lot of sports have moved from side-out scoring to rally scoring. I think the main reason for this is to have a more predictable length of the match. The push for this I think is mostly to have better predictability for the broadcasters about their programming particularly in live television. I don’t exactly know if this actually changed the variability of the length of the matches but at least theoretically, it does make sense. For Pickleball to be a bigger spectator sport we might be forced to adapt this way of scoring. In my opinion, like many others have mentioned, rally scoring seems to be more compatible with singles. Doubles would be a little more complicated.

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I personally don’t care for it. I have only played a handful of rally scoring games but I like fighting for a side out. Don’t really care if it is ever on TV. I don’t need that to validate the sport for me. It is just a fun as heck game that I hope it is left alone.

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I agree with you. I wouldn’t want it for doubles but feel like it has its place in singles.

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As far as the rally scoring goes, I sincerely hope it’s not the future. I played full rally scoring singles at WPC, and it was one of the worst Pickleball experiences of my life. It fast forwards through the greatness of the game and rewards risk in a way that feels like a regression. I can give you an example match in which I played Zane Navratil, a great guy and top 10 player. He came out of the gates firing aggressively and playing awesome. In this scenario, he won 11-4 11-8 with rally scoring. If it were a match with traditional scoring, the score would have been 6-1 6-4 at the end of each game. For me, being down a few points in a game isn’t a big deal; in fact, it is vital for my success, to figure out and wear down an opponent. In my mind 6-4 is barely a lead and most certainly doesn’t indicate victory. Don’t misunderstand me, I think Zane absolutely deserved to win this match. To my recollection I have won 11 games this year where I was down by more than 6 points. With rally scoring and without sideouts, I don’t win those matches. Pickleball is a game of sideouts, and removing them from the sport just doesn’t make sense to me; it is part of the beauty of the game as a whole. To put it simply, I don’t think the current singles game has any flaws, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It is perfect. :slight_smile:

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I agree with you completely. I like the way it is now. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I only use the rally scoring in singles when we have 3 players playing singles and use it to cut down on time for any easier rotation this is for rec. Not tournaments

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My buddy pesa Teoni was one of those matches in the Mesa PPA tournament. I agree with this. I have been down by 6-7 points and come back and won because it took that long to lock it in and figure out my opponent. Especially doubles rally scoring would be bad. Not my cup of tea.

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Yup, I remember that match well. That win came in with a lot of bandaids and duct tape on it. Pesa definitely would have beaten me if it were rally scoring, I couldn’t read his backhand to save my life.

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That makes sense, rally scoring can definitely speed up the games for sure. Although, in that situation, I would probably just set a timer on my phone and play traditional scoring. That way each player gets equal time. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Our current scoring is not media/television friendly. Although I enjoy our current scoring system, it will most likely not reach prime time tv, for several factors. The current scoring has an unknown game length, from an average of around 20 minutes, as short as 11 or as long as 45 min for each game. You can’t sell that to Networks. You will get an hour spot, and the match will be all chopped up with commercials and points of the match. Unfortunately, Pickleball is slightly boring for the audience on television with constant potential side outs with no scoring advance. Table tennis scoring changed, volleyball changed, badminton changed, all adapted and changed for various reasons. The Pickleball purists won’t like change, but to grow popularity, change of some kind would need to happen to capture a bigger audience. Rally scoring is easy for singles, and flows. Rally scoring will always be an advantage and favor the consistence player, (Ben Johns) in singles or doubles.
The is one version of rally scoring that works better for doubles than the other, but other factors would have to be worked out. Another version, which would hold favor more for tennis players than old school pickleballers is to play 2 out of 3 sets of “no add” scoring, like tennis. The scoring, play, and switching works easy. Choose serve or side, the first serving player serves an entire game of the first to 4 points or best of 7, meaning tied at 3/3, the next point wins, then switch sides on every odd game, like tennis. Play to a desired number of games, like 6…win the set by 2 games or if tied at 6/6, play a 12 point tiebreaker. This scoring is actually fun in Pickleball, but again, many don’t like change.
It would take someone offering good money pro payout to attract pros and other players and implement a different format. Regardless, the current scoring system doesn’t work well for television.

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Randy and I had a chat about this a couple of months ago. It was rather enlightening when he brought up a lot of points I hadn’t considered (which he just outlined here.)

I think Randy’s comments here are a perfect articulation of what one might consider a “necessary evil” for the progress of the game. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think there are two questions at play here. One is an opinion, and the other question is less subjective…

“What type of scoring do you prefer?”

“What type of scoring is best for the future growth of pickleball?”


I'm no sports buff and don't understand most of the politics that go in in the wonderful world of professional sports... but @PickleballVoyager's logic seems sound to me. The question that I'd throw in would be...

“Is there a place for both?”

As a rec and local tournament player, I love the traditional format of scoring. When I was a kid we played a lot of volleyball and I remember when it switched to rally scoring and we hated it!! But now, it’s the way that it is.

If pickleball advanced towards rally scoring b/c of the funding doors that were opened as a result, could traditional scoring still be something we hang onto as a culture of players? I would suspect that rec players would follow suit and we’d all just adapt to a new normal.

Until we’re ready for that next step… let’s enjoy the heck out of what we have, for now!!

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@PickleballVoyager that is the best option I have seen anyone lay out. Although I still would prefer the scoring stay the same, that at least kind of makes sense from a marketing TV standpoint. only time will tell :man_shrugging:

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This is a great take on the topic and I don’t see any way around some sort of scoring change for Pickleball to go mainstream. It would be cool to see a series of tournaments and/or shootouts utilizing multiple scoring formats…

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Rally scoring is a moot point. The game of Pickleball is the game of pickle ball and it is scored as a pickleball game. Baseball did not change for television. Baseball is still wildly popular. Television still covers baseball. Why? Because it is wildly popular and it is what the viewing public wants to see. That is what drives television to cover it even though the length of the game is not predictable. Paragraph football is also wildly popular speaking of American football. The rules of football did not change to fit television and the games don’t necessarily fit a certain time slot even though the games are are timed. Yeah television still covers the game and alters programming to do so. If Pickleball will be covered in television it does not have to change. It just Hass to become wildly popular which is happening. So don’t change the game for television television cover the game, and don’t feel pressured to do so. Neither baseball nor football were monetized in the beginning they became popular because people love the game. That is true with Pickleball as well. Continue to trust that it will be sore and don’t fix what is not broken.

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I don’t like it for doubles I agree I like to play the full game out and win back the ball.