You Make the Call!
Here’s the Scenario:
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 12,000 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 — and rules #12.G and #12.J.3 should have been referenced. As professional pickleball player, Kyle Yates, appropriately points out in the Pickleball Forum comments, “[Rule #12.G states that] anything the player is wearing or carrying cannot touch their opponents court… he is wearing SHOES… correct? And they touched his opponents court… correct??” Sounds like appropriate logic to me.
Furthermore, the second clause of Rule #12.J.3 states that “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.” While several debated that the first clause of Rule #12.J.3 talks specifically only about the backspin causing a player to breach the plane of the net — therefore making the second clause inapplicable, others argued that the intent of that second clause in Rule #12.J.3 is to prevent players from touching the opponent’s court — regardless of the reason. I tend to agree with the intent of preventing players from touching your opponent’s court. Regardless of reason, you cannot step into your opponent’s court.
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 Official Tournament Rulebook:
International Federation of Pickleball — Official Tournament Rulebook
Items on the Court. If anything a player is wearing or carrying lands on the court, it becomes part of the court… If the item lands on the opponent’s court, it is a fault.
If the ball bounces into a player’s non-volley zone with enough backspin as to cause it to return back over the net, that player may reach over the net to hit the ball but may not touch the net. 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.
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’s 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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