Pickleball Comes Back Over Net without Being Touched — Who Wins the Rally?

This post has been updated in 2024 according to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024).

Here’s the Scenario. You Make the Call.

You hit a ball with so much backspin that, upon going over the net, the ball comes back on your side without it ever being touched by your opponents. Who wins the rally?

It tends to spark confusion, laughter and bewilderment about what to do — particularly for those new to the sport of pickleball. You hit a shot with so much backspin that the ball goes over the net, lands in your opponent’s court and then, because of the excessive backspin imparted on the ball — or, perhaps because of the wind — comes back over onto your side of the net without it ever being touched by your opponents. Who wins the rally?

According to Rule #11.L.4 from the 2024 USA Pickleball Official Rulebook, you do! The striking player wins the rally. Your opponents, in this case, must hit the ball before it bounces back on your side. Your opponents can, however, reach across the net and without touching the net hit the ball.  If they touch the net, however, it would be a fault. Here’s what the official pickleball tournament rulebook has to say about this scenario.

USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)

Rule #11.L.4:

If a player hits the ball over the net into the opponent’s court, and then the ball bounces back over the net and bounces a second time without being touched by the opponent, the striking player wins the rally.

Rule #11.I.1:

If the ball bounces into a receiving player’s court with enough backspin or wind aid to cause it to return to the other side of the net, the receiving player may cross the plane of the net (over, under or around the net post) to hit the ball… It is a fault if the player touches the net system, the opponent’s court, or the opponent while the ball is still in play.

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Coach Todd
About Todd

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.

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6 Comments

  1. After hitting a ground stroke close to the net (on my side) , can i follow through over or past the net? And on any shot, can the person striking the ball (on there own side)  continue past the net? Or is that a distraction ?

    1. Good questions, Jim. Rule #12.H. addresses the first question: “…A player, or anything the player is wearing or carrying, may not cross the plane of the net (or the extension of the net beyond the posts) except when striking the ball.” Rule #12.J.3. addresses the second question, “The player is also allowed to go around the net post and cross the imaginary extension of the net so long as he or she does not touch the opponent’s court.”

  2. Rule #12.J.4:

    If a player hits the ball over the net into the opponent’s court, and then the ball bounces back over the net without being touched by the opponent, the striking player wins the rally.

    What if the ball that bounces back over the net goes out of bounds?

  3. Thanks for sharing these “Rules” clarifications. I’ve provided your email information to our club members. Hopefully, some are taking advantage of this great forum.

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