Types of Pickleball Formats

Types of Pickleball Formats

If you just want to get in a quick game of pickleball, you don’t need to do anything complicated – just head out to a local court with a group of friends and get started. In fact, you don’t even have to play by the official rules, as you can just start hitting the ball back and forth and make it up as you go. 

However, if you do want to add some structure to the affair, consider playing one of the game modes listed below. 

Singles and Doubles

We have lumped these into the same category because the rules are virtually the same, with the only difference being how many people are involved. In singles, of course, one player is on each side of the net, as in tennis. With doubles, you’ll have two people on each side, and you will take turns serving. Otherwise, things remain pretty simple – only the serving team scores, and the first team to reach 11 points (and be ahead by 2) wins the game. 


If you have ever played the regular version of foursquare – maybe when you were a kid – the idea here is the same. There are four players active in the game at one time, although you can have more than that involved and just rotate in and out. Each player takes one “square” on the court with no one standing in the no-volley zone on either side of the net. You lose the point if the ball bounces in your square and you fail to hit it back into another square. There are plenty of different ways to keep score and crown a winner, so get creative and come up with your own fun ideas for variations on this concept. 

Volley Only

The no-volley zone – often called the kitchen – is an area on the pickleball court where you are not allowed to enter unless the ball bounces in there and you have to go retrieve it. That, however, only applies to standard pickleball. In this version, you are going to stay only in the kitchen and volley back and forth to win points against your opponent. If either player fails to return the ball or hits it too far and it sails beyond the kitchen, that player loses the point. This is a fun competition that also helps you build your volleying skills and reaction times. 

Round Robin

Round Robin is a form of play where teams meet other teams and they each play the same number of matches. This type of play is common for tournaments as it's a structured form of pickleball where time is allocated to each “round robin” session. The goal is to pair teams of equal ability and skill levels, creating fun competition that is reasonable. Each player is assigned a number that remains the same throughout the two hours of allocated time. They are then paired up with someone at their skill level for a total of eight games. 

There is no limit to what you can come up with on the pickleball court, so don’t feel limited by the traditional rules of the game. Have fun with your friends and come up with all kinds of different ways to innovate this popular sport.