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Portable Pickleball Net Systems — Rules to Know!

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

There are several situations that could arise on portable pickleball net systems that simply do not occur when playing on permanent nets. Without proper knowledge of these rules, you risk needlessly acquiescing points to your opponents for scenarios in which you’re uncertain about the official rules.

Here are some of the scenarios that could happen on portable net systems. Below each scenario is the applicable rule from the 2024 USAP Pickleball Official Rulebook.

1. Ball Hits Horizontal Bar Before Going Over the Net

A game is being played on a portable net. The ball hits the horizontal bar, goes over the net and then bounces in the opponents court. The team hitting this shot wins the rally. What’s the call?

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Rule #11.L.5

For net systems with a horizontal bar or a center base, or both:

Rule #11.L.5.a: Before going over the net, if the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base, it is a fault.

2. Ball Goes Over the Net and Then Hits Horizontal Bar

A game is being played on a portable net. The ball goes over the net, hits the horizontal bar and bounces onto the court. What’s the call?

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Rule #11.L.5

For net systems with a horizontal bar or a center base, or both:

Rule #11.L.5.b: Except on the serve, a replay will occur if the ball goes over the net and:

  • hits the center base
  • hits any part of the horizontal bar
  • the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar
  • hits a deflecting net
  • hits a draping net on the ground

3. Ball Goes Over Net and Then Hits Center Base

A game is being played on a portable net. The ball dribbles over the net and hits the center base making the next shot unreturnable. What’s the call?

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Rule #11.L.5

For net systems with a horizontal bar or a center base, or both:

Rule #11.L.5.b: Except on the serve, a replay will occur if the ball goes over the net and:

  • hits the center base
  • hits any part of the horizontal bar
  • the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar
  • hits a deflecting net
  • hits a draping net on the ground

4. Ball Goes over Net and Gets Caught Between Net & Horizontal Bar

A game is being played on a portable net. The ball dribbles over the net and gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar. What’s the call?

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Rule #11.L.5

For net systems with a horizontal bar or a center base, or both:

Rule #11.L.5.b: Except on the serve, a replay will occur if the ball goes over the net and:

  • hits the center base
  • hits any part of the horizontal bar
  • the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar
  • hits a deflecting net
  • hits a draping net on the ground

Need More Pickleball Rules Clarifications & Interpretations?

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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.

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18 Comments

  1. When using a portable net with a center post, if the ball hits the top of the post and ricochets into the opponents play area what is the call?

    1. Hi Paul, It’s simply a “live” ball. This assumes you’re talking about the center “stick” and not the net post that is positioned out-of-bounds. Hope that helps. (If it was the serve, it would be a “let” if it landed in the correct service box.)

    1. Hi Mike, I believe you’re referring to the net posts. As such, Rule #11.K applies:

      11. K. The Net Posts. The net posts (including connected wheels, arms, or other support construction) are positioned out of bounds. If a ball or player contacts the net post, it is a fault and a dead ball is declared.

  2. I had a play where the ball hit the portable net “center vertical support” roll across the top of the net and landed in the opponents court. The opponent called it their point, because she said it was part of the portable net frame?? What I’ve been able to find on portable net rules is talking about the actual metal center “stand” or “ horizontal bar”. I guess the question is is the center stick that runs through the net “vertically” supporting the net center qualify as the “ net frame”? What’s the call? Fault or replay?

    1. Hi Tami, The very small rod that, on portable net systems, goes from the center base to the top of the net is considered part of the net. Therefore, your shot is actually considered “good.” Play should continue. It would not be a fault, nor would you replay the point. Hope that helps!

  3. Server hits the ball properly but momentum carries his back foot over the service line and he lands in the court. Is this a foot fault and can only his team call it?

    1. It’s a legal serve (and no fault called) as long as the server’s feet did not touch the court (including the baseline) at point-of-contact on the serve. In tournament play, the call is made by the on-court referee. In rec play, anybody could theoretically call it — although my guess is, few will. Hope that helps!

  4. Do the same rules apply to end posts as center posts?
    A ball in play hits the end post but still went over the net. Fault or point?

  5. Great article once again Pickleballmax! Most of my readers are beginners and they are so eager to learn Pickleball. It’s now rainy season in my country and most of them are now playing indoors. This is a nice write up on the rules.

  6. Hi,

    I have a question.

    I step into the kitchen to take a ball on the bounce, then go outside the court (out of bounds) without stepping back inside the court and then play a volley. Will it be a fault?

    Appreciate your response.

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