Earlier this week, I asked folks on Facebook to identify pickleball rules they wanted to change. Some people, had more than one…not mentioning any names, Byron. I found the feedback pretty interesting. First no one mentioned my pet
peeve, that is, how often they change the rules. As a referee, and player, I don’t think it should be my responsibility to check the Rule Book before every game. But I digress. Permit me comment on some of the rules you identified as needing to be changed.
Pickleball Rules Related to the NVZ
Kandy and Bryce mentioned that they didn’t like the fact that a served ball that strikes the non-volley zone (NVZ) line is considered a fault. And in fact, Kandy suggested that this was a change in rules. Perhaps this is correct as the USAPA had its own rule book from 1984 until 2010 when it adopted the IFP rules. But if one considers the definition of the NVZ (2.B.3,4), which has never been revised in the IFP Rulebook, this rule is perfectly logical.
“Non-Volley Zone. The non-volley zone is the area of the court bounded by the two sidelines, the non-volley line, and the net. The non-volley line and the sidelines are included in the non-volley zone.”
The Villages has a large, well-organized program to introduce visitors and new residents to pickleball. As a volunteer instructor in this program I am always careful to describe the non-volley zone this way. I would do this before I talk about the service area, or the fact that (like tennis) lines are good. In my experience, people understand the distinction pretty easily. But again they are new to the game, and don’t have to “unlearn” anything.
Pickleball Rules Related to Good Sportsmanship
Jay referenced the need for rules related to recreational play. And John commented on the rules (4.I) related to the receiver motioning he was not ready after the score was called. To me it makes absolutely no sense for the server to have to observe that the receiver has raised his paddle after the score was called. And I agree with John that the receiver should not be rewarded if they do this without a hinderance.
But to me all of these issues can be bundled into the category of good sportsmanship. And in fact the Rulebook includes a pretty good Code of Ethics as defined by Section 6.D.
What I find fascinating is that there are fair fewer “rules disputes” or arguments in any of the Open competition matches I have refereed. Of course there is always an exception to the rule, but when I refereed four “Open” final and semi-final matches at the Grand Canyon Games earlier this year there was not one “issue”. In fact the players were cordial and always offered the benefit to their opponent when there was any doubt. They were all gracious and appreciative of the referee before during and after the match. Perhaps this is because so many of these players grew up playing competitive tennis which is considered a bit “starchier” than pickleball. I’m not sure. But though many of us will never be able to copy the moves these players exhibit on court, perhaps we can emulate their behavior whether it be in competition or recreational play.
It’s Great Everyone Knows the Pickleball Rules
What I also observed is that everyone that commented actually knew the rules. I may like the rule that Gail referenced about the around the post shot. I may not like rally scoring as suggested by Angela. It may not be important to me that Scott feels the distraction rule isn’t specific enough. But ALL the comments received in response to my post of Facebook, showed a complete and accurate understanding of the pickleball rules. (I did actually go to the rulebook and re-read every post and associated rules before I wrote this post. What I won’t do for you guys!) What is more interesting is that we all knew them regardless of the number of times and frequency with which they are changed. Note the rule book was updated April 15, 2016. There I go digressing again…