This post has been updated in 2024 according to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024).
Here’s the Scenario. You Make the Call.
A player jumps over the net and into the opponent’s NVZ without touching the net. Fault? Or continue playing?
In September, in Ashland, Kentucky, this exact scenario played out in a hotly contested pickleball match — one in which an objective 3rd party was called in to referee mid-match (in what was supposed to be a non-refereed match) because of its contentiousness.
Days later, the legality of the net jump (as shown in the video below) was fiercely debated in the Pickleball Forum — an ultra-engaged Facebook Group comprised of over 20,000 members, all of whom are extraordinarily passionate about the sport of pickleball.
Original Video Footage from Ashland, KY Pickleball Tournament
The following video is courtesy of Matt McGinnis, the net jumper!
Where was the Discussion in Real Time?
Oddly enough, in real-time, there was no discussion about the legality of the net jump. No player discussion. No referee discussion. Nothing. That’s why it behooves you — especially in a match you’re desperately trying to win — to know, inside-and-out, the pickleball rules.
So What’s the Call on the Net Jump?
In this particular scenario, a fault should have been called because a player cannot touch any part of the opponent’s court — and Rule #11.I should have been referenced.
So while few would disagree that it was a very athletic move — it should have nevertheless been called a fault. Here are the applicable rules from the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook:
USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)
Plane of the Net. Crossing the plane of the net prior to striking the ball is a fault. After striking the ball, a player or anything the player is/was wearing or carrying may cross the plane of the net. The player may not touch any part of the net system, the opponent’s court, or the opponent while the ball is still live.
Video Outtakes — Having Fun Trying to Recreate the Net Jump Scenario
As you play pickleball, you will — from-time-to-time — encounter situations on the pickleball courts that are so unique you have never encountered them previously. Many will often say, “we couldn’t do that again in a million years even if we tried…”
That was exactly our sentiments as we attempted to replicate the net-jump scenario that played out in the Ashland Tournament. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough people that evening to play doubles, so we tried it playing singles. And, it’s quite a silly attempt!
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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.