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Guide

Whether you prefer Traditional or Rally, the UPB app can handle either!

Unforced Pickleball takes the hassle out of keeping score and managing player positions. The intuitive design ensures that the score, player positions, and server are automatically tracked - leaving you free to focus on the game!

Scoring

Whether you prefer Traditional or Rally, the UPB app can handle either!

Unforced Pickleball takes the hassle out of keeping score and managing player positions. The intuitive design ensures that the score, player positions, and server are automatically tracked - leaving you free to focus on the game!

Traditional

Points are only scored on your service.

Overview

  • At the start of the game, the player on the right side (even court) serves to the diagonally opposite court

  • If a point is scored, the server moves to the left side (odd court) and serves

  • Players on the serving side continue to switch sides each time a point is scored

  • The receiving team does not switch sides

  • The first server continues to serve until they lose a rally. Then the serve passes to the second server on the team

  • First Server Exception: At the start of a game, only the right side player gets a service turn

  • When the second server loses the serve, the serve goes to the other team and the player on the right serves first

  • The score is called as three numbers: server score, receiver score, and for doubles, the server number, ie 3-4-2

  • Games are typically played to 11, 15, or 21 win by 2

  • Find the full set of rules on USA Pickleball
     

  • Check out this helpful article from Real Clear Stats breaking down the two scoring methods.

Rally

Points are scored on all serves, up until a threshold.

Overview

  • At the start of the game, the player on the right side (even court) serves to the diagonally opposite court

  • If a point is scored, the players partner now serves from the left side (odd court)

  • Players do not switch sides after winning points

  • The receiving team does not switch sides

  • When a rally is lost, the other team serves

  • Player A for each team serves and receives on the right side when the score is even, and Player B serves and receives on the left side when the score is odd

  • Once the first team reaches 20, they are frozen on rally scoring and must earn all future points on their serve only (ie. traditional scoring)

  • Once the trailing team reaches 18, they are also frozen on rally scoring and must earn future points on their serve only

  • If both teams are tied 19-19, then both teams are immediately frozen when it becomes 20-19

  • The score is called as two numbers: server score, receiver score, ie 12-14

  • Games are typically played to 21 win by 2

  • Find the full set of rules on MLP’s website

Guide: Tracking Unforced Errors and Winners in Pickleball

Disclaimer

Before we begin, it's important to note that this guidebook is always evolving. Unforced Pickleball Recorders are constantly discussing, evaluating, and thinking about the nuances of tracking pickleball shots. Our goal is to standardize a somewhat subjective measure with a framework and lots of examples to benefit the pickleball community at large.

We welcome feedback and discussion around classifying shots in this sport we all love!

Winner

In our book, a winner is a winner and they are all weighted equally. However, there are two segments within the winner category that are worth calling out.

Clean winners are shots where the opponent never had a chance. This could be a drive down the line or an overhead slam, simply put, the opponent didn't get a paddle on it.

Forced errors comprise the second segment. A forced error occurs when you hit a shot that puts pressure on your opponent and causes them to make a mistake. This can be achieved by hitting the ball with speed, spin, or placing it in a difficult spot for them to return it.

When you force your opponent to make an error, you deserve credit for a well-executed shot.

Unforced Errors

When we think of unforced errors, it's a mistake made by the player who hit the ball. There were no external factors or excuses for why they didn't make the shot, except poor execution.

We consider things like shot selection, pressure on the player, spin on the ball, and placement.

If your opponent hit the ball with speed, spin, or good placement causing you to miss the shot or make a mistake, then it is likely a winner for them..

Level of play is also a consideration. For example, if a receiver misses a medium to fast-paced serve, for 4.0 level it is likely an unforced error, but for a 2.5 player it is likely a forced error, a winner for the server.

Shot context is important on calls where it depends on many circumstances.

Some Examples 

Drop winner or unforced error volley?


What's happening? Player A takes a drop out of the air and hits the ball into the net.

Was it a great drop, or did Player A make an unforced error?

Evaluation: The ball placement forced Player A to make a decision to volley vs dink it, but otherwise was not special. While difficult, the ability to take a step back and hit a ball off the bounce or not hit such an aggressive volley off a good drop is an important skill to learn.

Determination: Player A unforced error.

Volley sails deep, unforced error?


What's happening? Player D is on the attack and hits two solid volleys. Player B has great defense and gets both shots back dropping the ball low below the net.

Was it a great drop winner, or did Player D make an unforced error?

Evaluation: Player D got impatient with the ball coming back twice and had plenty of time to make a better decision.

Determination: Player D unforced error.

Nasty serve winner or unforced error drive?


What's happening? Player B hits a great deep serve with spin. Player D hits the return into the net.

Evaluation: The depth and spin on the serve were a great combo, however for this level of play it should have been returned.

Determination: Player D unforced error.

Handle battle leads to long ball


What's happening? Player B and Player C have a bit of a hand battle at the kitchen! Player B drives the ball multiple times while Player C defends with backhand volleys, ultimately creating a shot that Player B hits out of bounds.

Evaluation: The slightly popped up ball gave Player B enough time and space to make a different decision / execute the shot.

Determination: Player B unforced error.

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Shot Types

Shot types provide granularity into the types of shots you're hitting well, or not.

paddle and ball
  • Drive is a shot taken off a bounce, typically from the base line or deep in the court

  • Dink is a shot executed from the kitchen line where you attempt to land the ball in your opponents kitchen

  • Drop is a shot executed from the baseline or deep in the court that attempts to place the ball in your opponent's kitchen

  • Overhead is a shot taken above shoulder level

  • Lob is a shot that is high and arching with the goal of going over your opponents' heads while remaining in-bounds

  • Volley is a shot taken out of the air, typically done at the kitchen line

  • Serve is a shot to put the ball into play

  • Kitchen infraction is when you hit the ball and step into the kitchen without the ball having first bounced in the kitchen

  • ATP aka around-the-post is a shot where you hit the ball around the post instead of over the net

  • Erne is a high level shot in which you jump over the corner of the kitchen and volley the ball

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