Pickleball games can last anywhere from a few minutes to 45 minutes or more depending on the format chosen for the game and the skill level of the players.
For example, a game scored with rally scoring which is when each point is counted will usually be shorter than a game scored in the traditional way where one side only scores when they are serving.
That said, a typical game scored to 11 points is usually wrapped up in 15-25 minutes.
Regardless of how long a match lasts, pickleball is always an exciting and fun sport to play.
Let’s take a closer look at the rules of the game and all the formats available to you so that you can choose what works best for your particular situations and what to expect from typical pickleball events. Let’s go…
How Long Does a Pickleball Game Last?
The first thing to understand about the length of a pickleball match is that it depends on how many points are required for one team to win. According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), an official pickleball match requires two out of three games, and each game is scored to 11 points.
In addition, there must be a two-point margin of victory in order for the match to end. If both teams reach 11 points and are tied, then they will continue play until one team is leading by two points.
This means that a pickleball match may last anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. It all depends on how the game evolves.
In addition to the game length, there are other factors that can affect the duration of a pickleball match. For example, the skill level of the players will be a big determining factor as well as how much parity exists between the two players or the two teams.
Players with higher levels of skill tend to have longer points. Since they are able to hit more accurate shots and return shots that would normally be missed by a less skilled player.
When a team or player on one side is significantly better than the other team or player, those games will tend to go fairly quickly because one side simply can’t keep up with the other side’s skill. When more parity exists between the two sides and they are more evenly matched, those games will likely tend to go longer since the sides are more likely to trade off in who wins each point.
Pickleball Game Rules
The rules of pickleball are fairly straightforward and easy to understand.
The game is played on a court that measures 20 x 44 feet, with the net set at 34 inches in the center and 36 inches at the net posts. Pickleball players have to use their pickleball paddles to hit a plastic ball over the net into their opponent’s half of the court.
For a detailed guide to all the rules please see our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide For Pickleball Rules.
Points are scored when either team fails to return the ball, the ball goes in the net or if it goes outside of the court boundaries. Games are typically played to 11 points but can be adjusted to a different format based on what is suitable for the event. Formats can be very flexible for events that are not sanctioned by the governing pickleball body, USA Pickleball.
Unsanctioned simply means that scores will not be officially registered and and that player rankings will not be impacted. There is a variety of good reasons why you might choose to run an unsanctioned event. You can skip over a lot of formalities and just focus on the fun.
For instance, in recreational games or unsanctioned events, you can have games score to 7, 11, 15, 21 or any number you wish. You could also have timed events where the winner of the game is whoever is leading at the time the whistle is blown to call time on that round.
How Long Does A Pickleball Match Last?
Now let’s get into some specifics on the length of different scenarios. A match can be one game or multiple games. We’ll cover some examples and specifics as we go in the next sections.
How Many Rounds Are In Pickleball Event or Tournament?
The number of rounds for a pickleball match is determined by the type of tournament being played. Typically, tournaments are held in either single-elimination or double-elimination formats.
Single-elimination matches consist of one round with the winner advancing to the next round until only one team remains. Double-elimination matches means that once you lose in the main draw, you fall in to the “back draw”. If you lose again in the back draw, you’re out of the tournament. If you win the back draw then generally means you placed 5th in the tournament.
The player or teams that played in the final match of the main draw take 1st and 2nd place and the semi-finalists in the main draw playoff for 3rd and 4th place. All other teams went into the back draw which is why the winner of the back draw takes 5th place. This is a typical elimination tournament format but variations exist and every tournament will lay out the details of the format they use on their information page so be sure to check that when signing up for an event.
Draw sizes are typically 64, 32, 16 or 8. It’s common for the number of players or teams to not match those exact numbers which simply means that many teams will get what is called a “bye” to the next round. It’s usually the teams that are seeded in the draw that will get to skip rounds with a bye. You earn a seeding in a draw if you are among the highest ranked players or teams in the tournament.
If the draw size is 8 then there is a quarterfinal round, a semifinal round and a final round so there are 3 rounds. A draw size of 16 therefore has 4 rounds, a draw of 32 has 5 rounds and a draw of 64 has 6 rounds.
How Many Games Do You Need To Win A Pickleball Match?
Most pickleball tournaments require two out of three games to win, meaning that the first team to win two games wins the match. Each game is typically played to 11 points and must have a two-point margin of victory in order for the game to end.
This means that a pickleball match can last anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour.
How Long is a Singles Game vs Doubles Game?
The length of a singles match is usually shorter than that of a doubles games. This is due to the fact that there are only two players in a singles match, whereas there are four players in a mixed doubles match.
The added pickleball player on each side means that there is less court to cover per player and therefore more shots and rallies per point, so the game can take longer to complete.
Tournaments Play vs Recreational Play
Obviously, the length of a pickleball match can vary depending on whether it is being played competitively or recreationally as well as the parity of skills between the opposing players or teams.
An entire tournament, for example, will typically have stricter rules and regulations which must be followed in order to complete the match. This can add time to the match since players must adhere to specific guidelines while playing.
Recreational play is usually much more relaxed and does not involve as many rules or regulations.
This allows players to make up their own rules and finish the match at a quicker pace if they wish.
Pickleball is a sport that can be enjoyed at any level and in a multitude of formats that make for a fun time. From simple short games with lots of player rotation so you have a different partner and different opponent in quick succession to competitive player tournaments where you have the same partner throughout and play for the whole day, multiple days in a row, there is something in the sport that will work for you.
The length of a match is determined by the tournament format, how many games are needed to win a match, how many points to win each game and whether it’s singles or doubles play. The competitiveness of the match will also play a factor.
An average pickleball game will last anywhere from 15 minutes to 25 minutes. So if you’re looking for a fun and active way to spend your afternoon, then pickleball is the perfect activity for you!
What are the most common faults in pickleball?
Common faults in pickleball include hitting the ball in the net, hitting the ball out of bounds, stepping into the NVZ when volleying and the ball bouncing twice on your half before you or your teammate are able to return it back over the net and in bounds
Is a pickleball game played to 11 or 15?
When there are multiple games to be played in order to win the match such as a 2 out of 3 or a 3 out of 5 games to win format then each game is typically scored to 11 points. When there is one game played to decide the match then that game is typically scored to 15 points.