can you play pickleball with 3 players

Can You Play Pickleball With 3 Players?

In the world of sports and leisure, pickleball has taken its place as a beloved game that combines the best of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. But here’s a little twist that many wonder about: Can you play pickleball with 3 players? Let’s unravel this pickleball mystery and delve into the joy of a three-player pickleball match.

Is it possible to play pickleball with 3 players?

The short and sweet answer is a resounding yes! Playing pickleball with three players is not only possible but can add an extra layer of excitement to the game. However, there’s a delightful alteration to the standard rules that transforms the experience into something special. The most common approach to three-player pickleball is the “King of the Court” style.

King of the court style:

Imagine one player steps into the spotlight as the “king”  with a pickleball paddle in hand and initiates the game by serving from the right side of the court. On the flip side, the other two players join forces as a doubles team on the opposite side. The game kicks off with the king serving the doubles team. But here’s the kicker – the king plays solo against the doubles team, creating a dynamic and engaging scenario.

How do you keep score in a 3-player pickleball adventure?

Here’s the scoop. The king scores points exclusively when serving. If the king secures the point, they shift to the next court position. However, if the doubles team clinches the point, one of them ascends to become the new king, while the previous king joins forces with the doubles team. The game continues in this rotation, and the first player to reach a predetermined number of points, typically 11 or 21, emerges as the victorious pickleball monarch.

King of the Court Strategy:

This “King of the Court” adaptation injects a fresh level of strategy into the game. The king must display prowess in both offense and defense. While the doubles team needs to collaborate seamlessly to outmaneuver the lone king. It’s a captivating twist that keeps the game lively and ensures that every player is fully engaged in the action.

Secret to Success in Pickleball with 3 Players:

As with any enjoyable game, the secret ingredient to success in three-player pickleball lies in teamwork and communication. The doubles team must synchronize their movements, cover the court effectively, and strategize to exploit the weaknesses of the king. Conversely, the king needs to be nimble, resilient, and clever in facing the challenges presented by the doubles team.

The true allure of three-player pickleball lies in its adaptability. Whether you’re aiming for a casual game with friends or a more competitive setting, this modified version offers a unique and enjoyable experience. It’s a fantastic solution when you have an odd number of players. It ensures that everyone gets a chance to be part of the pickleball excitement.


In conclusion, while traditional pickleball typically involves doubles play, the game’s versatility shines through in the three-player variation. With the “King of the Court” twist, players can savor a dynamic and strategic game that keeps everyone on their toes. So, gather your paddles, rally your friends, and embrace the thrill of three-player pickleball. Here every point brings you closer to being the crowned ruler of the court!

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