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Pickleball, a sport that has been steadily gaining popularity across the globe, has been played with a traditional scoring system known as “side out scoring.” This means that points can only be scored by the serving team. However, a new contender has emerged on the scene: “rally scoring.” Rally scoring allows points to be scored by either team regardless of who serves the pickleball. This potential shift has ignited passionate debates within the pickleball community. In this blog, we’ll explore the arguments for and against adopting rally scoring, its potential impact on the sport, and its recent adoption in Major League Pickleball (MLP).
Benefits of Rally Scoring in Pickleball
- Faster, More Exciting Games: Rally scoring injects an element of excitement into every single rally. The intensity is maintained throughout the match as points can be won by both teams, increasing the overall pace and action on the court.
- Predictable Game Times: With the traditional side out scoring, games can vary greatly in duration depending on the serving team’s performance. Rally scoring provides more predictable game times, making it easier to schedule matches for national broadcasts and ensuring a consistent viewer experience.
- Beginner-Friendly: Rally scoring simplifies the game for newcomers. The concept of scoring becomes straightforward—every rally results in a point, eliminating confusion for beginners who might struggle with side out scoring’s nuances.
- Accurate Player Ratings: Rally scoring ensures that every point contributes to a player’s performance evaluation. This system offers a more accurate representation of a player’s skill level, fostering fair competition and progression.
- Enhanced Spectator Experience: Rally scoring intensifies the suspense for spectators. Each rally becomes a potential turning point, and the back-and-forth action keeps fans engaged, resulting in a more enjoyable viewing experience.
Major League Pickleball’s Adoption of Rally Scoring
In 2023, Major League Pickleball (MLP) embraced rally scoring, ushering in a new era of excitement and engagement. In this format, a point is scored after every rally, irrespective of the serving team. However, the first team to reach twenty points returns to the traditional scoring format and must secure a two-point lead for victory.
The adoption of rally scoring by MLP has transformed the sport’s dynamics and spectator experience. The change has introduced faster-paced games, increased intensity, and a simplified scoring system, making the sport more accessible to both newcomers and existing fans. The suspenseful nature of rally scoring has elevated the thrill of watching pickleball matches, enhancing the overall entertainment value.
The debate between rally scoring and side out scoring in pickleball is a testament to the sport’s evolution and growth. While traditionalists may argue in favor of maintaining the heritage of side out scoring, the benefits of rally scoring are hard to ignore—faster-paced matches, easier-to-follow scoring, and an exhilarating viewing experience. The adoption of rally scoring by Major League Pickleball serves as a clear example of how this change can positively impact the sport. Whether the pickleball community embraces this transformation or remains loyal to the traditional approach, the future of the sport is undoubtedly brighter with these conversations and innovations.