Referee’s Corner: Double Hits and Carrying The Ball

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Referee’s Corner:

Double Hits & Carrying the Ball

I’m sure you have seen this happen, or perhaps you have even done it a couple of time. You attempt to hit a ball, but make contact with it twice while you try and return it back over the net. Is this an illegal shot or not? What does the rulebook have to say?
Under the definitions section…

  • 3.A.8 Double Hit – Hitting the ball twice before it is returned.

Reading this it wouldn’t be hard to conclude that anytime the ball is struck more than once, it could be called a “Fault”! But let’s look farther.

  • 11.A. Double Hits. Balls can be hit twice, but this must occur during an unintentional, continuous, single-direction stroke, by one player. If the stroke is deliberate, or not continuous or not in a single direction, or the ball is struck by a second player, it is a fault.

So pretty clearly not all double hits are illegal, but as described above, if that paddle changes direction through the swing in an attempt to change the direction of the ball once hit, or it’s two separate movements, it would be a fault.

Now, let’s look at a “Carrying” situation.
Here is another situation that occasionally occurs. You decide whether it is “Carrying” the ball, and an illegal shot.
A player gets lobbed, turns around with back to net and runs toward the baseline to hit the ball. Standing with their back to the net and paddle under the ball, in one motion, player scoops ball up and over their head across the net to their opponent’s side of the court. Legal shot or not?

  • 3.A.1 Carry – Hitting the ball in such a way that it does not bounce away from the paddle but tends to be carried along on the face of the paddle.

Think that definition fits the situation? Ball is carried along on the face of the paddle, instead of being hit in a direction away from the paddle.

Section 7 Fault Rules…

  • 7.O. A player deliberately carrying or catching the ball in play on the paddle.

When a ball is hit, it leaves the paddle in the direction the paddle was moving in, or if being held in position, the ball will strike the paddle and return in the opposite direction, immediately after contact. Therefore, if the ball in the situation above is moving out the back of the court, and the player attempts to reverse its direction while having their back to the net, they will have to “carry” the ball on the paddle to reverse its direction… ILLEGAL, and a FAULT!

Al Thomson


Article from November 2020 PickleballBC Newsletter



2 thoughts on “Referee’s Corner: Double Hits and Carrying The Ball”

  1. It’s a judgment call to claim that one ball was carried along the face of the paddle, yet a different ball left the face of the paddle “immediately”. In tennis, a stroke that carries a ball along the racket face during shot execution is legal if the stroke is one continuous motion. Perhaps, Pickleball should borrow from the tennis playbook and institute the same rule. Otherwise, I foresee disagreements that manifest as one player argues their shot was a double hit while taking umbrage as another player claims it was carry. All continuous motion shots in one direction should be considered clean, legal hits. Changing the carry rule to match tennis’s will bring scrappy, wobbly joy back to pickleball, which I fear we are in danger of regulating out of the game.

    1. I disagree completely. Double hits are easy to hear and rule on. Carrying the ball to be sneaky and redirect it elsewhere is hard to spot and should be ruled illegal.

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