Skinny Singles Pickleball: Rules, Court Dimensions, & Strategy

Skinny Singles Pickleball: Rules, Court Dimensions, & Strategy

Skinny singles pickleball is a way of playing singles that only uses half of the court. Some players use skinny singles as a drill to improve both their singles and doubles game, while others enjoy playing skinny singles more competitively.

Because only half the court is used, it’s a style of pickleball game that requires a different strategy. 

If you frequently play pickleball singles and haven’t tried the skinny version yet, you’re missing out on not only some fun but also the opportunity to improve your killer pickleball skills. 

Skinny Singles Pickleball Rules

Skinny Singles Pickleball Rules

For the most part, the rules for skinny pickleball singles are the same as when you’re playing doubles with a partner. There is no change in what constitutes a fault or causes the serving player to lose the serve. 

The only main difference is in how you move according to the score since there is only one player on each side. Some choose to play cross-court only, with the opponent’s court diagonal to them. If you choose the straight cross-court, the ball might be served from different sides, but the pattern of diagonal play is the same. 

The other way of playing is for both the server and the opponent to stand on the side that reflects their score. As with doubles pickleball, only a change in the server’s score will result in the serving player changing court sides.

The opponent remains on the side of their court, which is reflected by their even or odd point value. This way of playing skinny singles is a combination of both cross-court and down-the-line play.

For example, at the start of the game, when the score is even, both the server and the opponent are standing on the right-hand side of the court. The server score then dictates where the server stands. If the server’s score is even, they stand in the right-hand court. If the score is odd, they stand in the left-hand court. 

When the server commits a fault and they lose the serve, their opponent gets the ball, and then they move to either the odd or even side, depending on their score, as the ball is played and a point is earned. 

With straight down the line, both players are always directly across from each other. 

How To Play Skinny Singles Pickleball

Playing doubles seems to be the most popular choice among casual players. When you think about it, you only have to cover half the court when you play doubles, which means when you play pickleball singles, you have a lot more territory to cover. 

Some pickleball players find that pickleball singles are too strenuous and more high impact than the doubles they’re accustomed to playing.

Skinny singles is a modified version where you still get more of a workout, but all the shots happen using half the court. 

You might have also heard of slender singles pickleball, which isn’t exactly the same thing as skinny singles.

With slender singles, you’re not playing on half the court. Instead, you play on a court that’s reduced in size with a smaller net. Each allows you about the same amount of space to play, but the mechanics are different. 

Skinny Singles Cross Court 

Skinny Singles Cross Court 

Cross-court play is the most popular style of skinny singles. Cross-court play happens with both pickleball players standing in courts that are diagonal to each other.

You serve cross-court into your opponent’s court,  similar to how you would serve in a doubles game of pickleball. You continue to serve and hit cross-court throughout the duration of the pickleball game.  

Skinny Singles Down the Line 

Skinny Singles Down the Line 

Another option is not to hit the ball cross-court and instead play down the line. In this scenario, the two players are on the same half of the court. Many find this type of play of skinny singles in pickleball to be more challenging, and it makes a great drill to perfect more difficult shot selections. 

Another option with down-the-line play is to move to the appropriate half of the court based on your score. When your score is even, you stand on the even side of the court, and vice versa when your score is odd. This offers the opportunity to play on the same side of the court and also perfect those cross-court shots. 

Skinny Singles Pickleball Court Dimensions

The standard pickleball court dimensions are 20×44 ft. When you’re playing skinny pickleball, you don’t need to do anything special to modify the court. Instead, you choose if the game will be played from the same side or across the court from each other. 

With skinny singles, you still have the 44ft of length, which includes the non-volley zone on each side of the net. Instead of 20ft of width to play in, each player is confined to a single side, which measures 10 ft across. 

Slender singles are a bit different. With slender singles, you take a tennis court, pickleball court, or any flat surface that you can play on and mark off the dimensions of 44 ft long, like a standard pickleball court, and 16 ft wide. The net you use will measure 18 ft across, giving you a little net on each side of the court lines. With slender singles, the non-volley zone still measures 7 ft from the net. 

Skinny Singles Pickleball Strategy

Skinny singles offer a great opportunity to improve your skills and come at the game with your own strategy without needing to take into consideration the strategy your doubles partner wants to use. 

There are some strategies from regular pickleball that carry over, such as moving close to the non-volley zone and playing close to the line. If you move too far to the back of the court, you give your opponent a definite advantage for hitting difficult shots your way. 

Also, do your part to work all the angles and keep your opponent moving around the court. Send a variety of shots their way, from drop shots to lobs. 

Every pickleball player has a weaker side, and when you’re playing skinny singles, the opportunity exists to expose their weaker side and play against it. Most pickleball players have a stronger forehand shot and a weaker backhand. Pay attention to how being on the even or odd side of the court affects their returns. 

Skinny Singles Pickleball Tournaments

Skinny Singles Pickleball Tournaments

Who says you need a partner to play and dominate the pickleball tournament scene? Skinny pickleball is becoming a hit in the casual and pro pickleball circles. Some of the most well-known pros also hold clinics on skinny pickleball to help you master your game. 

You might not see skinny singles popping up at the biggest tournaments and qualifying events, but they can be found on a local community tournament level. Check with your local pickleball club to see if they offer skinny pickleball leagues or tournaments. 

Skinny Singles Pickleball Scoring

Skinny singles are typically played to a score of 21 points, using rally scoring. As with regular singles and doubles pickleball, the game should be won by at least two points over the opponent. 

Bottom Line 

Most players pick up the game of pickleball and learn as part of a doubles team, in part because singles pickleball can definitely be more challenging. If you’ve never played singles because you didn’t want to chase the ball around the entire court, give skinny singles a try! 

2 thoughts on “Skinny Singles Pickleball: Rules, Court Dimensions, & Strategy”

  1. I love skinny singles. I typically like to play the version where ONLY the server moves, as they win a point. This, to me, serves as the most diversity in the game. I find that all shots, minus down the middle (between players), are developed with accuracy and strategy to pull the opponent out of the court. I love the game and think it really sharpens up my game. I have only recently started trying rally scoring and like it, but think that if you’re playing say to 21, then you should stop rally scoring at like 15-17 and then you have to win the rest ON your serve. This gives the opponent a chance to catch up since they are still rally scoring, and you have pressure to win ON YOUR serve, which is more realistic, but this makes the game move quicker and is fun and dynamic.
    I have found that playing this way has made me see the court and angles in a new way. The court seems much larger now and there are shots and techniques I can use that I would have not seen without playing this way.
    Is there a set rule style that most competitions follow in Skinny Singles? I know of a few variations, and I would like to confirm what the standard one is, so I practice that a bit more as well.
    Please send me any skinny singles and singles competitions within 3 hours of my home at: Glens Falls, NY 12801.
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Angel Woodyard

      Hi Anton,
      I think you’d need to contact each skinny singles tournament directly to see which rule style they follow. It’s possible each does it differently and we’d hate to share information with you that isn’t accurate.

      We found a couple of resources for pickleball near Glen Falls, NY. Unfortunately, neither resource mentions skinny singles. Your best bet would be to reach out to the venues you might be most interested in and see if they have skinny singles tournaments set up. If not, you could express interest and maybe be the one to start one.

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