Pickleball Rule Changes in 2021
There were many rule changes in January 2021 which are all included in the new USA Pickleball Rule Book found at: https://usapickleball.org/ . I have highlighted some of the new rules below which are most applicable to Club play. A short YouTube video explaining some of the rule changes can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch
Service Lets – Prior to the recent changes, any serve touching the net and landing in the correct service area was considered a “Let” and a re-serve was conducted. Service Let has been removed from the Rule Book and now a serve which touches the net and lands in the proper service court is considered in play. A receiving team which calls a Let and stops play will have committed a fault. It may take some time to get used to the change, therefore discretion should be used in allowing a re-serve when honest errors are made in fun play.
Serves – A Provisional Rule for a Drop Serve has been added (this Provisional Rule will be evaluated after a year to determine if it will remain as a rule). There are now two types of serves – a normal serve and a drop serve. Reasons for the change: 1. Provides a better server method for the physically impaired. 2. Easier serve to teach beginners. 3. Provides an alternate serve method for those who have the “yips” (lost serve).
Normal Serve – No changes to the rules. Servers arm must be in an upward motion when the ball is struck, contact with the ball must not be made above the waist, and the highest point of the paddle head cannot be higher than the highest part of the wrist when it strikes the ball.
Drop Serve - The server must release the ball from one of the server’s hands or the paddle (visible to the receiver) from a natural height and hit the ball after it bounces on the playing surface at least once. After the ball bounces the previously mentioned service rules in relation to the paddle position (for normal serve – see above) do not apply. The ball cannot be thrown up or down as part of the drop. In tournament play the server has 10 seconds to serve after the referee has called the score. If the server is not happy with the first drop, they can pick it up and drop again as long as the serve occurs before the lapse of the 10 seconds. If the server drops the ball for a drop serve and strikes the ball before it bounces, the rules for a normal serve apply.
Calling Score – Prior to the recent changes, the complete score had to be called before the service motion started. The new rule states the complete score must be called before the ball is served. This means the service motion can be started during the calling of the score, but the paddle cannot strike the ball until the call is completed. Another rule change states that the server’s partner can call the score if the server is incapable of calling the score with adequate volume for the players to hear it. If this is the case the partner must call the score for the whole game.
Line Calls – Players should not call the ball “out” unless they can clearly see a space between the line and the ball as it hits the ground. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt for line calls made. Players should consider all balls that land on their side of the net are in … unless they can be certain that the ball landed out.
Thank you to Barry Halpenny, our VP Silveridge Pickleball Club Executive team member, who put together this update for us.
2020-21 Club President