Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world right now, in part because it is easy to pick up and play.
However, one part of the rules that is especially confusing to new players is the rule about switching positions on the court.
When are you supposed to switch? When are your opponents supposed to switch? How can you tell if you are standing in the right place?
In this article, we’ll look at the rules for pickleball and explain how to find out where you should be on the court.
Switching Court Sides in Pickleball, Explained
According to the Pickleball rule book section 4.B.6.b., when the team’s score is even, the starting server’s correct position is in the right/even serving area. When the team’s score is odd, the starting server’s correct position is in the odd/left serving area. In practice, this means that every time a point is scored, the team that scored must switch positions on the court.
If a starting server scores a point during their serve, their team’s score is now 1 (odd), and the starting server should switch so they are on the odd/left side of the court.
These are the rules for doubles. When it comes to singles, things are almost the same.
Rule 4.B.5.a states that when a player’s score is even, the server’s correct position is in the right/even serving area, and it must be received by the receiving player cross-court in their right/even serving area.
In other words, in singles pickleball, the player serving determines where the player receiving stands since the initial serve must be received cross-court.
Switch Positions When You Want to In Skinny Singles
The official rules for singles pickleball state that every serve must be received cross-court, but with “skinny singles” rules, you can switch things up to play a different kind of game that will also train differently.
You can play an entire game “down the line” by ignoring half of the court and serving directly to each other. This removes the need to switch positions at all, and it can be helpful in training you to volley directly rather than cross-court.
You can also play a game where the server switches position on the court every time they win a point, but the receiving player doesn’t switch. That means that for roughly half the game you’ll be playing down the line, and half the game you’ll be playing cross-court.
These variations can be a lot of fun, and help train you to become a more consistent player with a wider range of maneuvers.
How Do I Know Where I Should Be Standing?
These rules sound complicated, but applying them is easy. It will become second nature to you once you have played enough games.
The key is to understand when you need to switch.
If you switch court positions at the correct times, you shouldn’t have to calculate even and odd scores to find out where you should be. You will be in the right place because you switched positions at the right time.
Pickleball players should switch positions whenever their team wins a point. In singles games, a player has to move to the other side of the court when they win a point. It is that simple. To track this for doubles, it is a good idea to take note of who is standing on the right court at the start of the game (0 to 0, even to).
If you’ve been playing a game for a while and suddenly you begin to wonder whether you are really where you should be, you can use the even/odd rules to easily determine if you are in the right position.
For example, if you were the starting server on the right side of the court at the start of the game and now your score is 7 and the opposing team’s score is 4 and it is your turn to serve, you know that you should be on the odd/left-hand side of the court.
Because 7 is an odd number. You were on the right side of the court when the score was even at the beginning, and you were required to switch positions every time you scored.
Can Players Switch Sides In Pickleball?
In doubles Pickleball, players are required to switch sides every time the serving team wins a point. Points can only be scored by the serving team, and the receiving team never switches sides.
In singles pickleball, the serving player switches sides whenever they win a point. The receiving player switches sides whenever necessary to receive the serve cross-court.
The pickleball rules require you to switch positions at these times, for these reasons.
You can’t choose to switch sides with your partner or choose to serve from a different place, because that would violate the rules.
Does the Server Switch Sides in Pickleball?
The server is always the player that switches sides.
Switching positions only happens when a point is won, and only the serving team can win a point. Therefore, the server is always the one switching positions, even if their teammate has to switch with them at the same time.
In singles pickleball, the receiver switches positions to receive the serve cross-court.