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 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 from the 2019 International Federation of Pickleball Official Tournament Rulebook 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 Official Tournament Rulebook:
2019 International Federation of Pickleball — Official Tournament Rulebook
Plane of the Net. After striking the ball, a player or anything the player is/was wearing or carrying may cross the plane of the net or the imaginary extension line of the net beyond the posts but may not touch any part of the net system or 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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