What is a Rally in Pickleball? and How Does Work?

Before going into the in-depth discussion of the main topic which is “Rally” in a pickleball game. First of all, we will discuss briefly the introduction and meaning of the pickleball game to make it easier to understand the further concept of the rally.

Pickleball is said to be a mixture of all the sports that include a racket and a ball as the main equipment.

The games similar to pickleball are table tennis, ping pong, tennis, badminton, and many more.. However, pickleball is unique in its own ways when it comes to the game terms, rules, and regulations. Various unique and different terms are defined by the official pickleball authorities including, serve, volley, non-volley zone, back-court, backspin, backswing, paddle, carry, cross-court, drop-shot, drive, rally, double-hit, ground-score, kitchen, fault and many more. Also, read the What is the Non-Volley Zone in Pickleball??

Each term has its own significant importance when it comes to playing methodology and its rules & regulations.

In this article, we will be focusing on the term “Rally” and all other related terms involved to completely understand “rally”.

Let’s get deep into it:

Introduction to Rally:

Rally scoring is basically defined as the scoring technique in which when a fault is made by any of the players, a point will be given to the opponent no matter who had done the serving. Conclusively, each rally would end up giving a point to either of the two players making the game more interesting and faster.

The concept of the rally is different from many perspectives. In general, the term rally in sports refers to a series of shots from one player to another until one of them drops the shot giving point to the other player. Commonly used for the games played with a racket and a ball having a net in the middle.  You Can also check the Best Pickleball Gloves.

However, in pickleball, the term Rally is used in a not-so-simple way. In pickleball, we define a rally as a series of consistent shots/strokes by the players. A minimum of 2 or a maximum of four players are supposed to be involved in a rally. It starts from the service and continues until the ball is dropped or hit a certain point causing the fault.

There are various rules based upon which the fault will be declared by the regulatory authorities. It’s not necessarily dropping the ball however if the player moves out of the standardized positions that can also be considered a fault.

For example, player 1 starts the serve while standing within the volley zone and player 2 makes the volley within the volley zone and the strokes continue. After a few strokes, if player 1 accidentally hits the ball touching the kitchen/non-volley zone then this will be considered a fault and a point will be given to player 2.

Important Terms used in Rally:


When a player hits the ball without allowing the ball to touch the ground, this technique is known as “Volley” in the books of pickleball terminology.

Side-Out & Side-out scoring:

This way, player 1 would lose the opportunity to make the service, and player 1 would be allowed to start the serving. This procedure where the serving opportunity is shifted from player 1 to player 2 is known as side-out. In side-out, another term “side-out scoring” is used which means that when the rally breaks and one of the players gets the fault, according to side-out scoring, the point will be given only to the player who did the serving.

Replacing the old scoring system with the new scoring system in 1999:

Previously the side-out scoring was considered officially correct and applied legally. However, with the evolution of pickleball regulations, the side-out scoring is not considered valid anymore because this was quite demotivating to the players and the audience also started losing interest in the game. Also, check the What Kind Of Ball Is Used In Pickleball?

Side-out scoring was the traditionally invented scoring procedure and is also known as traditional scoring. Afterward, there have been rounds of negotiations among the pickleball federal and government authorities to reconsider the scoring procedures. After the mutual consent between the pickleball authorities and the pickleball experts, it was decided that the old concept of traditional scoring would not be applied in National and International Tournaments. Whereas a new scoring system was established officially in 1999 termed “Rally Scoring”

Insights into changing the scoring system:

Since the beginning of the pickleball game, the scoring system was the point of debate in all the official authority meetings wherein a lot of conflicts were experienced based on the debatable scoring system. In 1999, it was finally decided that the traditional scoring system should no longer be implemented officially because of various reasons:

  • Traditional scoring made the pickleball game unpredictable for the winning/losing party.
  • Un-organized and unfair scoring system.
  • Demotivating the players

However, after changing the scoring system from traditional to rally scoring, it was observed that the “Rally scoring” system had made pickleball more organized. Below are advantages that have been seen in pickleball after changing the scoring system from traditional to Rally Scoring:

  • Made it easier for the pickleball experts and organizers to get an estimated idea of the overall tournament timeline.  You Can also check the Best Pickleball Machines.
  • Making the match time predictable would enhance public and sponsors interest in the tournaments.
  • The players get motivated when they have the opportunity of making a point at the end of the rally.
  • Allowing the referees to have a sound grip on the foul plays made by the players.

Types of faults in pickleball:

In a pickleball match, some expert says that there are three types of faults, however, some say that there are 5 types of faults. These faults include:

  • When the ball goes beyond the boundary of a court or even touches the court boundary, a point will be given to the opponent and would be considered a fault.
  • A player tries to make the serve or during the course of the rally, the ball accidentally hits the net. In such a situation again, a point will be given to the opponent.
  • The rule of double bounce is mandatory and cannot be voided. If a player fails to follow this rule, he shall be at fault
  • Since it is not allowed to hit the ball in the kitchen zone during a rally, if any player does so, shall be considered faulty.
  • If the ball hits another player or any other object placed nearby such as a nearby wall or anything. Fault be considered and the opponent would secure the point.  Also, check the How to Hold a Pickleball Paddle?

To understand any sports rules and procedure, a simpler way is to read out the commonly asked questions by concerned persons over the internet.

Below are the most commonly asked questions about pickleball rallies and the answers would further clarify the concept of the rally, rally scoring, traditional scoring, and rules and regulations involved in a pickleball rally.

1- Is it true that at the end of every rally, a score will be given to either of the players?

Well, the rules vary for traditional and rally scoring. Also, it depends if the team is playing in singles or doubles. But yes, it is true that the players can get a point at the termination of each and every rally. If the game is played in doubles, the next service will be assigned to only one of the two players on the team in a rotation. However, whoever gets the point, will change the serving side.

2- Is it allowed for the player to bounce the ball once after touching the ground in a pickleball rally?

Yes, in fact, this is the major rule in pickleball that the pickleball game starts with a serve and the serve is made by allowing the ball to touch the ground, and once it bounces back then hits it towards the opponent. This is called a volley. Starting from the service until any of the players makes a fault, the rally would keep going. The duration between serving until a fault is made is called a rally. But make sure that the bounce is made only once in a rally.

Also, for better clarification, it is important to know that in the middle of the court a 14 feet area is maintained where the player cannot hit the volley during a rally. This area is known as kitchen or non-volley zone. 

3- If any of the equipment gets damaged or cracked during the course of the rally, what should the players do?

In normal circumstances, it is not allowed for any of the players to break the rally for any reason. However, If a player feels like his racket or ball is damaged, they can plead to the referee. The referee will check if the requirements are actually damaged upon his judgment then he will be allowed to stop the rally and replay after exchanging the equipment.


The Pickleball rally is considered the main core of pickleball. If a player successfully stands during the rally without making any fault, this is the best opportunity for him to score maximum points.

However, different rules have been applied by the official authorities but the experts all around the world mutually agree on a point that if a player gets himself adhered to the rally, hitting the aggressive volleys to the opponent and ultimately making him to do the fault, there are 90% chances that he would win the match.  You Can also check the Best Pickleball Machines.

For that reason, the professional trainers focus on training the skills and expertise required in a rally to their students.

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