6 Lesser Known Pickleball Rules That You Must Know (2022)

If you’ve been playing for awhile, you probably know how simple pickleball rules are. But even with it being so simple, there are some rules that you may not know which could bite you if you’re not careful.We all know about the general rules that apply in pickleball such as the rules in the kitchen and the double bounce rule. But there are some other, lesser-known rules that are crucial to know especially if you’re playing in tournaments. I’ll be using excerpts from the IFP Officially Tournament Rulebook which is the official rulebook of the game.

Serving motion rules

People aren’t too stingy about serving rules in recreational pickleball as long as the serve is made within reason. But there are some serving rules that you may not know specifically about the motion.

From the IFP Official Tournament Rulebook:

“4.A. Serve Motion. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level). (revised Feb. 1, 2013)”

We all know that you can’t serve like they do in tennis, but it’s not just the overhand part. In pickleball, the point of contact must be below the navel. If the paddle head strikes the ball above the navel, then it’s a fault. It also must be an underhand serve.

(Video) Common Pickleball Rules Questions ANSWERED!

But what constitutes an underhand serve? Check out this rule:

“4.A.1. Underhand Defined. The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball (paddle head is that part of the paddle excluding handle. The highest point of the paddle head cannot be above any part of line formed where the wrist joint bends). (revised Feb. 1, 2013)”

This is the rule that absolutely defines what an underhand serve is. The phrase, “moving in an upward arc” is really important to understand. You’ve probably seen people who not only hit the ball above their navel but also slice down on the ball or something similar. If you’re going to play in tournaments, you can’t do any of these things.

This is probably why you see professional players using a simple underhand serve, instead of anything too complicated. They don’t want to risk getting a fault.

Never touch the net

This one is important because it’s easy as pie to touch the net without realizing it. But this is especially true if you’re playing high-level games at the net. When you’re playing at the kitchen, sometimes you will have to return dinks that hit the top of the net, then fall straight down to the bottom of the net. These are extremely difficult shots to get, but you have to be careful that you don’t touch the net! If you do, you will lose the rally! It’s a fault if:

“7.E. A player, player’s clothing, or any part of a player’s paddle touches the net or the net post when the ball is in play.”

Pretty simple. But not so simple if you’re returning balls near the net. Don’t let yourself touch it for any reason!

(Video) The 4 Changes in Pickleball Rules 2021 vs 2022 you Should Know!

The 10-second rule

Unlike the 5-second rule, the 10-second rule has nothing to do with dropping food on the court. But it has everything to do with how long you can take to serve or be ready to receive the serve.

Here’s the 10-second rule right from the rulebook:

“4.J. The 10-Second Rule. The “10-second rule” applies to both server and receiver, each of whom is allowed up to 10 seconds after the score is called to serve or be ready to receive. It is the server’s responsibility to look and be certain that the receiver is ready to receive serve.”

Basically, when the referee calls out the score, you have 10 seconds to serve. This is almost never an issue, but it’s important to know in case you need to tie your shoes or attend to any other urgent task on the court. However, if those 10 seconds go by and you haven’t served, the referee can issue you a technical warning. If you continue to delay, they can award the opposing team a point.

This can also happen to the receiving team. You have tobe ready to receive the serve once the score has been called by the referee. If you’re not facing the server, or if you’re walking around aimlessly, then once the 10 seconds is up the referee can issue you a technical warming. And like I explained above, if you keep doing it then they can award a point to the opposing team. The biggest reason why this rule exists is to keep people from recuperating and restoring their energy after a tough rally. If there was no rule, then you could just pace around indefinitely as you recuperate.

But If you need to take some time before you serve or receive, call a timeout to be safe. Here’s what the rulebook says about timeouts.

“11.A. Normal Time-Outs. A player or team is entitled to 2 time-outs per game; each time-out period shall last only 1 minute. Then play must be resumed or another timeout must be called by either side. Time-outs may never be called once the ball is in play or the server has started the serving motion. For games to 21 points, each team is allowed 3 time-outs per game.”

(Video) The 2 Bounce Rule-A Critical Pickleball Rule

Distraction rules

This one is huge for competitive play. Proper communication in tournaments is essential for success. But if you communicate too loudly…

“12.H. Distractions. Players may not yell, stamp their feet, or otherwise try to distract an opponent when the opponent is about to play the ball. A player, or anything the player is wearing or carrying, may not cross the plane of the net (or the extension of the net beyond the posts) except when striking the ball. Note: In Doubles, team communication shall not normally be considered a distraction. However, loud communication at the time the opponent is about to strike the ball may be considered a distraction. If, in the judgment of the referee, a distraction has occurred, it shall result in the loss of the rally. (revised January 15, 2013)”

Things like stomping your feet, yelling at an opponent during their stroke and things of that nature are obviously wrong things to do. But what if you’re simply communicating to your partner about something and the opponent is swinging in the process. If it’s too loud, and the referee thinks that it was distracting for the opponent, then he may call the rally early, but not in your favor.

There’s one situation in particular where I could see this occurring often. If I’m playing in an evenly matched game with skilled opponents, I will oftentimes tell my partner what kind of shot is coming their way. I don’t do this for all shots, but I especially do it for spin shots because they can be the trickiest ones to deal with. However, by observing my opponent’s body language, I can tell if they’re about to do a sneaky spin shot. I will then shout to my partner, “spin!”. This is all before my opponent has hit the ball.

No one is ever going to call you out on something like this in casual pickleball. But in competitive play, be aware!

Balls hitting lines are always good except…

I know we talked about serving rules at the beginning of the article, but I need to go back to one rule in particular. When you are serving, the ball must clear the kitchen line. If the ball hits the kitchen or the kitchen line, it’s a fault. Even if it hits the net beforehand. Also, it used to be that grazing the net then landing in the serving box was a let, but that is no longer the case!

This is the only time in the game where hitting the ball on the line will result in a fault. Your serve will be good if it hits the baseline, centerline or sideline, but not the kitchen line.

(Video) The pickleball kitchen rule (non-volley zone) COMPLETELY explained

Once the serve has been successfully made, the ball can land on any court line, and will always be good.

That brings up our next talking point, line-calling!

Line-calling ethics

I won’t go into a huge philosophical monologue about ethics, but there are a few rules to keep in mind when it comes to line-calling that are important.

No matter how widespread technology becomes for line-calling in pickleball, there will always be times where the players have to make the call. However, there is a code of ethics involved. Let me give you a simple bullet list that goes over the code. You can read more inside the rulebook.

  • If players are to be on line-calling duty, they must work to resolve all calls in favor of their opponent. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt.
  • A play can only make a line call on their section of the court.
  • Spectators may never participate in line calls. They have had issues with this in the past at high level, championship games.
  • Players should not question an opponent’s call unless they ask, or unless the player appeals to the referee.
  • In general, judgment should be left to those who can look straight down the line, instead of looking at it perpendicularly.
  • Calls must be made instantly, else the ball is considered still in play.

Having a code of ethics in a competitive sport is always going to be a sticky situation. Pickleball can be a fast and frantic game, and it can be extremely difficult to judge a line call. But if you keep these points in mind, then it will be a lot of easier for you when that time comes.

I hope that I’ve explained these rules well! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.

FAQs

What are the new pickleball rules for 2022? ›

What are the pickleball rule changes for 2022?
  • The drop serve is no longer “provisional” ...
  • Rally scoring rejected. ...
  • Official scoring nomenclature to start remains 0-0-2. ...
  • Reinstating the let serve rejected. ...
  • Chainsaw (spin) serve outlawed. ...
  • Visibility is 100% necessary. ...
  • Keep playing on the wrong score call.
27 Jan 2022

What are the 7 rules of pickleball? ›

Again, the 7 rules of pickleball that a every beginner should know are:
  • The serve must be underhand.
  • The serve must land beyond the no-volley zone.
  • No “lets” on the serve.
  • The serve and return of serve must bounce.
  • Only groundstrokes are allowed in the no-volley zone.
  • Points are earned only when serving.

What are the most important rules of pickleball? ›

Simply put, the rules of pickleball are: the ball must stay inbounds, there should be one bounce per side, serving must be done at the baseline, the serve can't land in the no-volley zone, and the game ends at 11 or 15 points.

What 3 rules make a pickleball serve legal? ›

Based on these official pickleball serve rules, there are 3 criteria to having a legal serve: (1) arm must be moving in an upward arc – or, in other words, the paddle needs to be going in an upward motion, (2) contact with the ball must be made below the waist and (3) the highest part of the paddle cannot be above the ...

What are the 5 basics of pickleball? ›

5 Rules of Pickleball
  • Rule 1: The ball must stay inbounds. ...
  • Rule 2: There must be one bounce per side. ...
  • Rule 3: You must serve at the baseline. ...
  • Rule 4: Serves cannot land in the no-volley zone. ...
  • Rule 5: The game ends at 11, 15, or 21 points.
11 Apr 2022

Can you serve sidearm in pickleball? ›

The pickleball rule book states that the serving motion must be in an upwards direction. Therefore, serving with an overhead or sideways motion is impossible and against the pickleball rules.

What is a Ernie in pickleball? ›

The Erne is a shot where you hit the pickleball either (1) in the air as you are jumping around the Non-Volley Zone (also known as the Kitchen); or (2) after you run around or through the Kitchen and re-establish your feet out of bounds, just to the side of the Kitchen.

Can you step into the kitchen in pickleball? ›

You can still enter the kitchen to play it. The rules above are only for volleys or shots hit out of the air. Remember to not just stand in the kitchen, as your opponent could take advantage of this with a volley. You can stay in the kitchen as long as needed, but it is crucial to get out of there quickly.

What are the 3 etiquettes of pickleball? ›

  • Pickleball Safety and Play Etiquette.
  • Fair play and sportsmanship are keys to success and enjoyment in any sport. ...
  • Wear proper court shoes. ...
  • ball to you.
  • When retrieving a loose ball, look for players waving at you, when possible return.
  • ball behind courts.

What is a BERT in pickleball? ›

A Bert is an advanced-level shot where a player leaps over the kitchen on the opposite side of the court to volley a ball. It is similar to an Erne, but becomes a Bert when the player crosses from the left side of the court to the right sideline or vice versa.

What are the four faults in pickleball? ›

Overall, the 5 most common faults in pickleball that result in a point won or lost are hitting the ball out of bounds, hitting the ball into the net, not adhering to the two-bounce rule, stepping into the non-volley zone, and the ball hitting a permanent object like a player.

What can you not do in pickleball? ›

Let's get right into it.
  • Scooting up after the serve. The most common mistake I see is that after serving, they scoot up a bit. ...
  • “Too fancy” of a spin. ...
  • Smashing balls too early. ...
  • Kitchen faults. ...
  • Poor serve techniques. ...
  • Not taking centerline shots as the forehand player. ...
  • Not letting shots go out. ...
  • Not getting to the kitchen.
4 Feb 2022

Can you switch hands in pickleball? ›

Should I Switch Hands? - Pickleball Mini-Lesson with Sarah Ansboury

Can you hit pickleball twice? ›

Double/Carry Hits : A ball hit during one continuous single direction stroke is legal, even though the ball may be unintentionally hit twice or "carried". Switching Hands : Paddle may be switched from hand to hand at any time. Two-handed shots are also legal.

Is drop serve legal in pickleball? ›

The 2022 rule changes have now adopted the “drop” serve as a permanent option. For the “drop” serve, the serving player may drop the ball from his or her hand or paddle face and hit the ball after it bounces. However, the ball must be dropped only and must not be thrown down or up.

Can you throw your paddle in pickleball? ›

drop your paddle into the Kitchen while in the act of. volleying, then you commit a fault (i.e. a Non-Volley. Zone violation).

Can you windmill serve in pickleball? ›

Pickleball Serving: Is It Legal? - YouTube

What is the 2 bounce rule in pickleball? ›

Double-Bounce Rule

When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning, and then the serving team must let it bounce before returning, thus two bounces.

What does pickle mean in pickleball? ›

Pickle: Warning shouted out by the server to alert all players on the pickleball court that they are about to serve.

Can you ace a serve in pickleball? ›

The reason is that the point of a serve is not to get an ace, but to hit the ball deep enough to where the opponent has a harder time getting to the kitchen. We'll talk more about this later. The downside to serving hard is that if you're playing a lot that day then serving hard can wear you out easily.

Is the chainsaw serve legal in pickleball? ›

As you may already know, the “Chainsaw Serve,'' made famous by pro baller Zane Navratil, was officially ruled against and deemed illegal in the USA Pickleball Rulebook as of 1/1/2022.

Can the return of a pickleball serve land in the kitchen? ›

Can the return of serve in pickleball land in the kitchen? Yes. The return-of-serve can, indeed, legally land in the kitchen. It's only the serve that has to be hit beyond the non-volley zone (kitchen).

Can you hit a side spin serve in pickleball? ›

Learn The Pickleball Spin Serve in 5 Minutes - YouTube

What is a nasty Nelson in pickleball? ›

A Nasty Nelson is a shot on the pickleball courts where the server serves the pickleball to intentionally hit the opposing player nearest to the pickleball net (in other words, the opposing player that is not receiving the serve).

What is the most important shot in pickleball? ›

Third shot drop

The third shot drop is the most important shot to master in pickleball. This shot is absolutely essential to learn in advanced pickleball play. A lot of points are lost on the third shot. The reason is that players feel a lot of pressure when trying to make this shot.

Can you jump over the line in pickleball? ›

You can jump in pickleball. When playing an overhead smash or an Erne, you must jump to maximize the shot's potential. The most important thing to get spot-on with any jump shot in pickleball is not to touch the non-volley area after completing the shot, as this will be considered a fault.

Can you stand in the no volley zone in pickleball? ›

You may also generally stand in the Non-Volley Zone as long as you are not volleying the pickleball. This includes entering the Non-Volley Zone at any time before or after the pickleball bounces, and standing in the Non-Volley Zone while your partner hits a volley.

Can you hit the ball before it bounces in pickleball? ›

After the ball has bounced once in each team's court, both teams may either volley the ball (hit the ball before it bounces) or play it off a bounce (ground stroke). The two-bounce rule eliminates the serve and volley advantage and extends rallies.

Can you jump and land in the kitchen in pickleball? ›

If you enter the kitchen, you need to re-establish both of your feet outside the kitchen before you can volley the ball. You can't be in the kitchen and jump backwards, volley the ball while you're in the air, then land outside the kitchen. This type of play violates the spirit of the kitchen and is considered a fault.

What can you not do in pickleball? ›

Let's get right into it.
  • Scooting up after the serve. The most common mistake I see is that after serving, they scoot up a bit. ...
  • “Too fancy” of a spin. ...
  • Smashing balls too early. ...
  • Kitchen faults. ...
  • Poor serve techniques. ...
  • Not taking centerline shots as the forehand player. ...
  • Not letting shots go out. ...
  • Not getting to the kitchen.
4 Feb 2022

What are the 3 etiquettes of pickleball? ›

  • Pickleball Safety and Play Etiquette.
  • Fair play and sportsmanship are keys to success and enjoyment in any sport. ...
  • Wear proper court shoes. ...
  • ball to you.
  • When retrieving a loose ball, look for players waving at you, when possible return.
  • ball behind courts.

What are the four faults in pickleball? ›

Overall, the 5 most common faults in pickleball that result in a point won or lost are hitting the ball out of bounds, hitting the ball into the net, not adhering to the two-bounce rule, stepping into the non-volley zone, and the ball hitting a permanent object like a player.

Can you step into the kitchen in pickleball? ›

You can still enter the kitchen to play it. The rules above are only for volleys or shots hit out of the air. Remember to not just stand in the kitchen, as your opponent could take advantage of this with a volley. You can stay in the kitchen as long as needed, but it is crucial to get out of there quickly.

What is the #1 mistake beginner pickleball players make? ›

Hitting to the opponent's forehand

One of the foundational concepts to learn in pickleball is to let your opponent make the mistakes. Many games are won just by your opponent doing all the work for you. But by hitting to the opponent's forehand, you're making it easy for them. Instead, let's make it hard.

What does Opa mean in pickleball? ›

OPA: Sometimes shouted out after the third shot has been hit, open volleying has begun. Pickle: Warning shouted out by the server to alert all players on the pickleball court that they are about to serve.

What is the most difficult thing to do in pickleball? ›

One of the hardest things to do in the sport of pickleball is to keep the pickleball low (while still over the net). A low pickleball will prevent your opponents from being able to go on the offensive with an aggressive shot.

Can you hit the ball twice on your side in pickleball? ›

Double hits are legal on the pickleball courts, but only under certain circumstances. To be a legal double hit, the hit must be (1) unintentional, (2) continuous, (3) a single-direction stroke, and (4) by just one player.

How do you rotate a pickleball player? ›

You put your paddle in the saddle with the players you want to play with, or by yourself. After one game, when the courts are busy, the 4 players on the court rotate off, and 4 new players come on. Those rotating off, put their paddles back in the saddle.

Do you have to stay on your side of the court in pickleball? ›

During a game of pickleball you must stand behind the baseline when serving, but you can stand on the baseline when receiving the serve.

Can you toss the ball on a serve in pickleball? ›

The ball can be dropped from any height but cannot be thrown, tossed, or otherwise released with any added force to bounce it. Serve to the diagonally opposite service court from behind the baseline and on or within the imaginary extension of the sidelines and centerline.

Can you bounce the ball before you serve in pickleball? ›

Question: Can you let the ball bounce more than once before executing the serve? Answer: Yes, you can let the ball bounce as many times as you want before hitting the serve. The serve simply has to be hit within 10 seconds of the score being called.

What is a dead ball in pickleball? ›

A dead ball results for any action that stops play. For instance, the following actions will result in a dead ball: Fault. Any fault committed by a player (whether called by the referee or any player, or not) results in a dead ball. The pickleball will immediately be a dead ball upon the first fault.

Can you switch hands in pickleball? ›

Should I Switch Hands? - Pickleball Mini-Lesson with Sarah Ansboury

Do you get 2 serves in pickleball? ›

The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court. Only one serve attempt is allowed (let serves are allowed).

What happens if you hit your opponent in pickleball? ›

It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body. Hand Hitting the Ball: Balls hit by the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle, are legal. It is a fault if a ball hits any other part of the body. An “out” ball is not “out” until it bounces.

Videos

1. Pickleball Scoring | What you need to know to get started
(PlayPickleball.com)
2. Pickleball Scoring Basics- Make it Easy with Me, You, Who?
(Better Pickleball)
3. Pickleball Rules-Ever Forget Which Side You Should Be On?
(Better Pickleball)
4. You Did Not Expect These Pickleball Rules Changes for 2023
(The Pickleball Pirates)
5. Official Pickleball Rules for Line Call Rules
(Tom Tom)
6. Pickleball Rules | How to play Pickleball | Beginner's Guide
(The School Of Sports)

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