This month we received several questions regarding pickleball net rules. Whether you use permanent nets on dedicated courts or temporary nets at your local Y, the IFP Rulebook can answer your questions.
One Brief Rant
It probably isn’t appropriate to start a post by ranting, but I (Nancy) just need to get something off my chest. It seems to me if you play pickleball you should take the time to read the official rulebook. Frankly, I am amazed at some of the silly things that I have heard a well-meaning person tell a new player while introducing them to the game:
- “You can’t say ‘out’ …you must say ‘bounce'”.
- “You can’t go into the ‘kitchen’ until the ball bounces.”
- “You can’t stand inside the baseline when your partner is serving.” (This is one of my all-time favorites because I was once observed a non-qualified “scorekeeper” referee a match and call a fault on a player for not standing behind the baseline.)
I am also amazed that people post their questions on Facebook groups. Nearly half of the responses one receives are inaccurate, representing local lore rather than the rules. Having played in golf tournaments, I took the time to read the USGA Rules of Golf. Trust me, the Rules and Decisions are pretty dry and weighty when compared to pickleball. If you don’t play wheelchair pickleball or need to run a tournament, the pickleball rule book is only about 40 pages…and the print is large. If you are really serious about the game, take one hour and read the rule book. If you choose not to, send us your questions. But please don’t teach anyone to play pickleball or post a response on Facebook. Just saying……
Ball Between Net and Post
One reader wrote wondering what to call when a ball passed between the net and the post. At first, I assumed by his question that they had suspended a pickleball net between non-standard posts, as all the permanent courts in The Villages would not allow a ball to pass between. (Unlike the post pictured here, ours are strung to prevent a ball from passing through.) However, as we have traveled we have come across dedicated courts like that pictured here. Since I never respond to a reader’s question without first re-reading the rulebook, I found the following rules:
2.C.2. Net Size. The net length shall be at least 20 feet (6.1 m) extending from one sideline to the other. The net width shall be at least 21⁄2 feet (0.8 m).
2.C.7. Posts. Net posts should be placed outside the sidelines. Recommended placement is 12 inches (30.48 cm) from the sideline.
12.I. The Net Posts. The net posts are positioned out-of-bounds. If a ball strikes the net post or anything attached to the net post, it is a fault and a dead ball is declared. This rule does not include the net, the net cable, or rope between the net posts. (Bold has been added.)
12.J.1. The net and the wires or strings holding up the net are positioned (mostly) on the court. Therefore, if the ball strikes the top of the net or strikes the top net wire or string and lands in bounds, then it remains in play. (Bold has been added)
12.J.2. Hitting the ball between the top and bottom net wires is a fault.
Taken in their totality, it would appear that a ball that travels between the post and the net is a fault. Like the rules of golf, you often need to read all the rules and then apply common sense. (Editor’s note: common sense was missing from my first post on this issue. Thanks to the many readers that pointed this and rule 12.J.2 to me. I apologize for getting this wrong the first time.)
We also got a question regarding temporary nets. Frankly, when I am reffing a tournament using temporary nets I always re-read section 12.J.5:
12.J.5 When net systems have a horizontal bar that may include a center base: If the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base before going over the net, it is a fault. If the ball goes over the net and then hits the horizontal bar, the ball is still in play. If the ball goes over the net and then hits the
center base or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar before touching the court, it is a let and must be replayed. (added April 1, 2011)
If you think about it, this is quite logical. If the ball hits the bar on the hitter’s side…it is a fault. If it hits on the other side, it has traveled over the net and thus is in play. If it gets caught or hits the center base, it is a let.
Of course, there are other pickleball net rules regarding crossing the plane of the net, hitting a ball the spins back over the net, etc. But I would encourage you to research them yourself here.