Readers continue to ask questions related to pickleball net rules. This week we answer two questions, regarding going over and under the net.
Pickleball Net Rules: What if the Ball Goes Under the Net
One reader wrote to ask if “the ball was good if it went under the net without touching the floor/ground”. Frankly, in The Villages, where I first learned to play pickleball, the net goes all the way to the ground. Nets that are suspended a few inches above the court surface are common though, perhaps making it easier to return the ball after a point. Though I cannot find any rule in the rule book that speaks specifically to the area between the bottom of the net and the court surface, I think it is safe to say that this is a fault. The first statement in the IFP Rulebook explaining the game states:
Pickleball is a simple paddle game played using a special perforated, slow-moving ball over a tennis-type net on a badminton-sized court. (Bold added.)
Rule 2.C.2 dictates the size of the net:
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).
And Rule 2.C.4 dictates the height of the net:
2.C.4. Height. The net shall be suspended over the center of the court and shall be 36 inches (0.914 m) high at the sidelines and 34 inches (0.86 m) high at the center of the court.
Taking these items into consideration and considering the ball is less than 3″ in diameter, it is difficult to imagine, though I guess possible, for a ball to travel below the bottom of the net but above the court surface. I’m certain I have never seen this, and suspect it is highly unlikely. But we must use common sense when interpreting the rules…so over the net it is.
Pickleball Net Rules: Touching the Net
Another reader sent us this note: “A ball touches the top of the net and barely falls onto our side of the court. I attempted to return the ball but I touched the net. What is the call?” In this case, the rule book is quite specific… it is 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.
This is not to say you cannot reach over the net. In fact, if a ball traveled across the net and then spun back over the net, you would be required to reach across the net and make contact with the ball or you would lose the point. Just be careful to wait until the ball crosses the net, or it would be a fault under rule 7.K.