This post has been updated in 2024 according to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024).
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 (2024)
Rule 9.C. states from the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024) 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.USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)
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.
USA Pickleball “Official” Twitter Clarification
To get “official” clarification, I tweeted the question to our friends at USA Pickleball. Shown below is their response along with an additional response from Third Shot Sports.
@PickleballUSA If your opponent hits a shot landing beyond NVZ & you hit groundstroke, but momentum carries u into NVZ… Fault? What say you?
— PickleballMAX (@pickleballmax) September 14, 2015Original Twitter Question
— Third Shot Sports (@thirdshotsports) September 14, 2015Twitter Response from Third Shot Sports
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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.