This post is not about the ongoing controversy regarding legal serves. Rather it is about lesser known pickleball service rules. You may think you know the rules….but do you?
Pickleball Service Rule #1: Interference
A reader asked, “If a served ball hits the receiver opponent (without hitting the net), is that serve a fault?” The answer is no. It is a fault on the receiving team as they interfered with the ball.
4.C.2. Interference. If the serve clears the net and the receiver or the receiver’s partner interferes with the flight of the ball on the serve, it is a point for the serving team.
To be clear, the rule does not specify which member of the team or where they are standing. Even if the partner is standing outside of the court, they must move to avoid contact with the ball.
You might wonder what happens in the case of a let. For example, the served ball hits the net and then strikes the opponent. In this case, it is a let under Rule 4.F.3. By the way, if you are wondering how many lets a player may have, the answer is unlimited. This clarification was added as a comment at the end of Section 4.F.
Pickleball Service Rule #2: Whiff
You may have played in a game in which you swung at the ball and missed, but your partner swung and was able to return the ball over the net. No harm, no foul…the point continues. However, there is one instance in which missing the ball is a fault and it is a pickleball service rule.
4.E.1. The server misses the ball when trying to hit it. …
If you are ever playing pickleball Jeopardy and the clue is, “This whiff is the only whiff-fault in pickleball” you now know the answer…”Alex, what is on a serve?”
We want to encourage everyone serious about the game of pickleball to read the official rulebook. You can even test yourself on your rules knowledge on the USAPA website. Knowing the rules, including the pickleball service rules, will make you a better player.