Early last week — in an effort intended to clarify many of the pickleball rules — the USAPA Rules Committee published the 2018 USAPA\IFP Official Tournament Rulebook along with the 2018 Major Rulebook Revisions document which specifically outlines the significant pickleball rule changes. These new rules go into effect January 31, 2018 and affect USAPA-sanctioned tournaments.
Where the USAPA Rules Committee Got it Right!
The USAPA Rules Committee got several things right when publishing the revised rulebook. With respect to the serve, they clarified the importance of waiting for the call of the score prior to the service motion in Rule # 4.A.1 and appropriately defined service motion in Rule # 4.A.2. That was badly needed.
I also liked the clarification in Rule # 5.A.3 which states that, in doubles, “the starting first server may be changed before the start of any game with notice given to the referee. ” That is, indeed, how we interpreted the rules previously, but it’s good to get official clarification and confirmation.
The Rules Committee should also be applauded for their clarification of Rule #11.L.5 for portable net systems which states in part, “… if the ball goes over the net and hits the center base or the horizontal bar or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar before touching the court, it is a let and will be replayed.” Previously, Rule # 12.J.5 stated that the ball was in play if the ball struck the horizontal bar after going over the net. This makes the ruling more consistent — and makes much more sense as there should be no difference in how the rule is applied with respect to the horizontal bar and the center base after the ball goes over the net.
Where the USAPA Rules Committee Got it Wrong!
Unfortunately, the USAPA Rules Committee didn’t get everything right, however. Previously, Rule # 4.F.3. stated that a serve that hits the net and then strikes the receiver or the receivers partner is a let. That’s how it should be. Inexplicably, however, Rule #4.A.9 now awards a point to the serving team for that instance in which the serve hits the nets and then strikes the receiver or receiver’s partner. Dumb! It should be a replay of the point. But, alas, it’s not.
Finally, while not in the 2018 Major Rulebook Revisions document, the USAPA Rules Committee slipped something into Section 3 — the Definitions section. Specifically, section 3.A.36 defines underhand (with respect to the serve) as “the player’s arm must be moving in a forward and upward arc with the palm turned upward or downward.” Palm turned upward or downward? Not sure what that means! What is the definition of upward? What about downward? This definition definitely needs further clarification — so as not to render most serves illegal. Perhaps the rules committee was attempting to clarify the legality of a backhand serve. It seems, however, they just added to the confusion of the serve!
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What Do You Think?
Did the USAPA Rules Committee get most things right? Did they help to clarify the rules? We would love to hear your thoughts! Please comment below and let us know what you think. See you on the courts!