Pickleball Skinny Singles (Mini-Singles): Rules and How to Play

Est. Reading: 5 minutes

If you’re new to pickleball, some experienced players may have advised you to play in singles rather than doubles. But have you heard about skinny singles? And no, it’s not a dating site, LOL! 

USA Pickleball, the nation’s governing body, officially calls it ‘mini singles,’ which is now an approved format. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything about the skinny singles format and its similarities and differences from singles.

What is Skinny Singles in Pickleball?

Skinny singles or mini-singles is simply a new version of singles, where players only use half of the pickleball court. Also called half-court pickleball, many players considered this format a drill rather than an actual game. Yet, some pickleball events offer skinny singles as part of their tournaments.

But as per the 2024 Pickleball Rules and Updates, USA Pickleball approved mini singles as a format, and the specific rules are in Section 12.0. Nonetheless, the organization has considered it a sanctioned tournament since April 2022. However, most players still prefer the singles format over the mini-singles.

Are There Skinny Singles Events in Professional Tournaments?

No, skinny singles events are not included in professional tournaments. Despite being an approved and sanctioned format, they are only available for the amateur brackets 3.0 – 5.0. USA Pickleball also does not approve mini-singles tournaments as golden tickets to major tournaments, such as NCS tournaments, the Regionals or Diamond Amateur Championship, and the Indoor and Outdoor National Championships.

Skinny Singles vs Singles: Similarities and Differences

Skinny singles and standard singles are the same in many ways, while they differ primarily in how you should play. Here’s a complete comparison between the two exciting formats to give you a better idea.


Skinny singles (mini-singles) and singles are played one-on-one, meaning you don’t have a partner and only have one opponent. Both of them use the same standard pickleball court, and most of the rules are the same. It includes the players’ positions, which are determined by their individual scores. Mini singles also use the side-out scoring system and the same Kitchen Rules and Pickleball Net Rules.


The main difference between skinny singles and singles in pickleball is how you use the court. Although only half of the court is used, you don’t need to build a separate court. Instead, you should divide the entire court into two. It means you must use the center line as one of the sidelines and extend it through the non-volley zone (NVZ).

Since the dimensions of a standard pickleball court are 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, the court dimensions for skinny singles are only 22 x 10 feet. In short, the area on each side of the court will be reduced from 440 square feet to only 220 square feet. Simply put, the playing area is narrower than in singles and, therefore, less tiring.

Pickleball Mini-Singles Rules

As mentioned earlier, the mini-singles format uses the same scoring system as in singles. Before the game starts, the score is 0-0 (server score-receiver score). Like in singles and doubles, only the server gets a score and will continuously serve every time the receiver commits a fault. Similarly, the receiver can only serve after a side out.

Like in standard singles, the score in skinny singles also still determines which side of the court the player stands. Even scores (0-0, 2-6, etc.) are served on the right-hand side, and odd scores (1-1, 3-7, etc.) are served from the left. Only one of the two courts is in play. This rule always applies whether the player is serving or receiving.

Mini-singles can be played cross-court (diagonally) or down the line (directly across). For instance, if the score is 2-2 (even), the server and the receiver should be on their even (right) sides, and you will be playing cross-court. But if the score is 3-2 (odd), the server will be on the odd (left) side, while the receiver should be on the even (right) side. 

Pickleball Skinny Singles (Mini-Singles) Crosscourt Set-up

Pickleball Skinny Singles (Mini-Singles) Down the Line Set-up

There’s no required color for the additional line that extends the centerline of the court through each side of the non-volley zone. However, USA Pickleball recommends using the same color as the other court lines. However, this line should only be temporary and removed once the court is used for doubles and singles to avoid distraction.

Pickleball Skinny Singles Playing Strategies

But while pickleball skinny singles may look similar to singles, you can apply the strategies you use in singles and doubles. Again, this pickleball format is like an energetic drill since it combines the elements of both. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the mini-singles playing strategies to help you win the game.

Serve Deep Consistently

Serve deep into the court as much as possible, and push your opponent back so you can control the non-volley zone (kitchen) like you do in singles. Plus, of course, a shallow serve is more manageable to return. The key here is to do it consistently until your opponent commits a fault. However, make sure that your serve will be out of bounds. 

Return Deep

Like in the serves, a deep return of serve will keep your opponent on the side and force that player to make a more challenging third shot. It will also give you more time to get into the non-volley zone. And since the court width in skinny singles is half the usual, you can also make your return closer to the centerline (now a sideline).

Move Your Opponent Around

Take advantage of the fact that your opponent has no partner to cover other areas. Here, you can apply different playing strategies, such as drop volley shots, especially if your opponent is behind the baseline. If your opponent is close to the kitchen line, hit some offensive lobs. Simply put, force your opponent to move around the court.

Use the Length of the Court

Despite the court’s shorter width, the length is still the same, so use it as an advantage. Here, you can hit good dink shots to control the pace and force your opponent into the non-volley zone. Afterward, return with powerful lob shots against your opponent’s backhand side. It will also help push your opponent back.

Get to the Kitchen Line Fast

Whether you are the server or the receiver, getting into the kitchen line as fast as possible is a great way to win. You can be a better offensive and defensive by playing in this area. You can also force your opponent to commit faults. At the same time, your opponent has fewer openings to attack you.

Benefits of Playing Skinny Singles

With skinny singles, you should work hard, like in doubles. But instead of having a partner, you will only rely on yourself. Although this format can be as tiring as singles, it offers many benefits to help you be a better pickleball player. Below are only some of them.

  • You can play pickleball doubles strategies but with less running.
  • It encourages you to use different shot techniques.
  • It helps improve your footwork and work on your angles better.
  • It improves your familiarity with the pickleball court.
  • It allows you to improve your overall physical condition in playing.
  • It increases accuracy level and positioning.
  • If you’re a beginner, it helps you elevate to become an advanced player.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, skinny singles in pickleball is a challenging but rewarding version. Contrary to popular belief, this format is not only for beginners. In fact, many advanced players also play skinny singles in preparation for a big tournament. 

So yes, you can also try mini-singles regardless of your playing skill level. After all, any version of pickleball is always a fun experience. Have you played it? What was your experience? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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