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What is a Rally in Pickleball?

Pickleball mixed doubles action of colorful court.

I played badminton as a child with my brother in the backyard. My family doesn’t keep score on anything; the idea is that it’s more fun to play and keeping score ruins the vibe. There were many games in which my brother and I volleyed the shuttlecock back and forth until one of us hit it into the net or dropped the shot.

Little did I know as a child that a game would be born that would use continuous volleying as both play and as a scoring system. We get it. It’s a little confusing if you don’t know what pickleball is all about.

Grab a coffee and pull up a chair because we’re going to explain what a rally is in pickleball.

A Rally Is A Gathering Of Some Type. How Can The Word Rally Apply To A Ball Game?

A married couple compete in the mixed doubles event of a seniors pickleball tournament.

The word rally has been used in tennis for a long time. It’s much the same in pickleball: a rally is when the ball is in continuous play back and forth before a fault. The things that constitute a fault and the end of the rally are:

  • Hitting the ball out of bounds
  • Hitting the ball into the net
  • Faults in the non volley zone
  • Not recognizing the two bounce rule
  • Hitting the ball into the net post or another solid object
  • The players’ misconduct on the court is another fault in a rally. Such misconduct could be throwing a paddle at the opposing team or another violent exchange.

You Mentioned That A Rally Is A Scoring System. What’s Up With That?

Female Pickleball player in action on an outside court.

What It Is?

If the ball is in play, then it stands to reason that someone is going to be awarded a point at some time. The point can be awarded in a rally to either team, and it doesn’t matter if one of them was or was not the serving team. Rally scoring differs quite a bit from traditional or side-out scoring.

In the traditional scoring system, only the serving team gets the point. In rally scoring, both the serving and returning teams get a point if they win the rally. The most important thing to remember about rally scoring is that the games are played up to a higher score, from 15 to 21, whereas a normal pickleball game is played to 11.

This is due to the fact that rally games move quicker than traditional games.

Where You Stand?

Your position on the court is determined by how you score. For instance, in traditional scoring, the players switch sides on the court when they win a point from their service. In traditional scoring, the two players could only win a point if they won a rally.

The non-serving team isn’t given a point if they win a rally. There is no second service, so if your team loses the rally, your opponent is given the point and the service.

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How Long A Rally Lasts?

A rally can last for four or five shots. In most cases, it’s the serve, return, and one more shot. However, if a pickleball rally lasts for up to five or six shots, then that’s cool within the rules. In tennis, it’s longer (up to 50 shots.)

What To Remember About Rally Scoring?

Men's double team playing pickleball.

Rally games are played for 15 to 21 points or won by two points. Other things to remember are:

  • The opposite team or returning team can score if they win the rally
  • If the serving team scores, then he or she will switch sides on the court to serve
  • One of the most important things to remember is not to switch sides of the court until your team has won a point
  • The right side of the court is the even side and the left side of the court is the odd side
  • The score of the serving team determines the side of the court from which the ball will be played (even or odd)
  • Each rally is worth a point
  • There are no single serves in doubles play; your team will only get one serve, but both players will have a chance to serve.

What Is A Rally In Pickleball FAQs

How Do You Win A Pickleball Rally?

The server’s team wins if the opposite team hits a fault. The server’s team loses the rally if it hits a fault. If the serving team wins the rally, it continues to serve.

What Is Rally Serving?

One partner serves, and if your team wins the point, then you rotate court positions. You’ll get a chance to serve at some point during the game unless you lose the rally. At that point, the serve goes to the other team.

Does The Server Get Many Points For Winning A Rally?

No, the server only gets one point for winning a rally. At the end of the game, if the score stands at 20 points, the side that wins two points wins the game.

Is There A Difference Between A Rally And A Volley?

Yes. A rally is continuous play, usually after a bounce. A volley is continuous play except that the ball is in the air and doesn’t bounce. Volleys are usually part of a warm-up or practice but can happen during play.

What Is A Fault In A Pickleball Rally?

A fault occurs when the ball is volleyed from the non volley zone, is hit out of bounds, didn’t land within the lines of the receiving court, is volleyed before the ball bounces on either side or is hit into the net on the serve or the return.

What Is It Called When A Rally Is Stopped And Replayed Without The Score Changing?

It’s called a let. The rally is stopped and replayed when a ball from another court lands in yours or when a shot is played and no one knows if it landed in or out of bounds.

How Many Shots Are In A Rally?

It’s unusual for a rally to go for more than four or five shots, but it’s possible.

What Is The Double Bounce Rule In Pickleball?

Each team is required to play the first shot from the bounce. After the two bounces have been played, the ball may be volleyed or played from the bounce.

What Is A Rally And A Completed Rally?

A rally is when the ball is in play continuously before a fault. A completed rally is when the play results in giving one team the point.