Last week we talked about the new pickleball rules which took effect last week. Today we address the new pickleball service rules. While there are some changes, most of the rules further clarify what we already practiced.
Pickleball Service Rules: What Changed
There have been a few substantive changes to the pickleball service rules (Section 4 and 5 of the rulebook). However, the vast majority of modifications are simply clarifications to what we already knew. To begin, let’s look at the items that changed:
- Rule 4.A.4 allows players with a disability affecting the use of one arm to bounce the ball. No such rule existed before. Personally, I think this is a fair and reasonable compromise. I recall, many years ago playing with a very good, male player who had lost the use of his left arm after a stroke. He would hold the paddle against his body, toss the ball with his right hand, grip the paddle and strike the ball legally. His superior athleticism enabled him to do this awkward motion perfectly every time…but many would not be so fortunate.
- Another change relates to a “let serve” (i.e. a ball that hits the net) striking the opposing player. In the past, if a serve stroke the net and then hit the opposing team it was a let. This rule (4.A.9) has been changed to award the serving team a point. Don’t ask me why this rule was changed. I haven’t taken the time to ask the USAPA…it is what it is.
- Rule 4.C.2 was modified to not allow a receiver to become “not ready” once the score has been called. The only exception is when a hindrance is observed (such as a ball or player entering the court). Though this is rarely an issue, there was a hotly contested event several years ago when a player was accused of gamesmanship by being ready then not ready during the service sequence. This rule clarifies players responsibilities.
- Finally, while in the past a player was given a technical warning for violating the 10-second rule, the new pickleball service rules instantly result in a fault (i.e. loss of serve by the serving team, or a point if violated by the receiving team.) See Rule 4.E for additional details on the 10-second rule.
Pickleball Service Rules: Clarifications
Though one may argue that the following are rule changes, for the most part, I consider these clarifications:
- Section 4.A relates to a legal serve. None of these wording changes, change the definition of a legal serve! They simply further clarify the rules. [One hopes that referees call illegal serves when they are clearly seen…one of my pet peeves.]
- Also, Section 4.B.8 & 9 were modified to address annoying practices some players have adopted as it relates to ensuring they are the correct server or receiver. By knowing the team score, a player can always determine if they are on the correct side of the court. As such, a receiving team can ask the referee the score. A serving team can ask if the correct player is serving.
- Likewise, the changes made in Section 5 are clarifications:
- 5.A.2 You cannot change your mind after you have selected side or serve, so consult your partner and choose carefully.
- Between games you may change who will be the first server, 5.A.3, however, please let the referee know.
- And the 60-second rule and two-minute rule will be enforced when changing sides and between games.