Your local pickleball courts are undoubtedly a place — a sandbox if you will — where new techniques are tested, strategies devised, and where rule interpretations are discussed, argued, and eventually conceded. We recently had such a discussion about momentum and the non-volley zone (NVZ). Specifically, consider the following scenario: Your opponent hits a shot that bounces beyond the non-volley zone (kitchen). You respond with a groundstroke but your momentum from the shot carries you into the non-volley zone. Is this a fault?
One camp argued that regardless of where the ball bounces on the court — as long as it bounces — your momentum from hitting your groundstroke can, indeed, carry you into the NVZ without penalty. The other camp countered that if the ball bounces beyond the NVZ your momentum cannot take you into the NVZ without a fault being called.
Pickleball Momentum Rule — Let’s Go to the Rulebook
Rule 9.B. states from the International Federation of Pickleball Official Tournament Handbook states the following with respect to momentum:
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… The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action.
After reading this rule, it is clear that this rule applies only to the act of volleying the ball — hitting the ball out of the air before it bounces. It does not apply to a groundstroke — or a ball that bounces first.
USAPA “Official” Twitter Clarification
To get “official” clarification, I tweeted the question to our friends at the USAPA. Shown below is their response along with an additional response from Third Shot Sports.
@PickleballUSA If ur opponent hits a shot landing beyond NVZ & you hit groundstroke, but momentum carries u into NVZ… Fault? What say you?
— PickleballMAX (@pickleballmax) September 14, 2015
@pickleballmax As long as you are letting it bounce, you can go into the non-volley zone. Good question!
— Pickleball USA (@PickleballUSA) September 14, 2015
— Third Shot Sports (@thirdshotsports) September 14, 2015
Hopefully, this makes sense to all. At least it’s one less thing we all have to worry about as we approach the kitchen. Please subscribe to our newsletter so that you receive pickleball rule updates/interpretations, as well as pickleball tips, strategies, tournament recaps, and more.
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See you on the courts!