As the Republican presidential contenders are busily prepping for their first nationally-televised primary debate this evening, I am also spending the day preparing — not for any potential political zingers I can throw at my opponents — but rather, for my first forray into score-keeping and “refereeing” a USAPA Sanctioned Pickleball Tournament. Although I don’t yet qualify to participate as a player (it’s an over-50 tournament), I am nevertheless excited to be part of the action on the sidelines wearing the “black-and-white pinstripes.”
As part of the USAPA membership level that I purchased earlier this year, I was provided a copy of the International Federation of Pickleball Official Tournament Handbook. What better way, I thought, to brush up on pickleball doubles scoring and the rules of pickleball than to review this guide? As I was thumbing through the 56-page handbook, I thought it may be helpful to highlight four different rules and their interpretations that frequently arise on the pickleball courts — and will likely be relevant tomorrow.
Four Relevant Pickleball Rules that can Confuse Even the Tournament Player
4.A. Serve Motion. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level). (revised Feb. 1, 2013)
4.A.1. Underhand Defined. The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball (paddle head is that part of the paddle excluding handle. The highest point of the paddle head cannot be above any part of line formed where the wrist joint bends). (revised Feb. 1, 2013)
9.B. A fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball, a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying touches the non-volley zone or touches any non-volley line. For example, a fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball, one of the player’s feet touches a non-volley line.
IFP Comment: The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action. If the paddle touches the non-volley zone during the swing, it is a fault regardless of whether the touch occurred before or after contacting the ball. (Added January 15, 2012)
12.A. Carry and Double Hits. Balls can unintentionally be hit twice or “carried”, but this must be during a continuous, single-direction stroke. If the stroke is not continuous, not single-direction, or if it is a definite second push, the hit is illegal. (revised April 1, 2011)
12.K. Shots Around the Net Post. If a ball hit at an angle bounces in the court and travels beyond the sidelines, a player may return the ball around the outside of the net post. The ball does not need to travel back over the net. In addition, there is no restriction on the height of the return. For example, a player may return the ball around the net post below the height of the net.
Looking Forward to Tomorrow’s Tournament Action
If you’re playing and you see me standing on the sideline with a clipboard, don’t try to “pull one over on me.” I’ll have the official tournament rulebook with me — and I won’t be afraid to use it! See you on the courts.
Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.