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The Pickleball Hits You, Goes Over the Net and Lands In — What’s the Call?

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

Here’s the Scenario. You Make the Call.

You attempt a volley. However, the ball hits you just above the wrist while you’re holding the paddle. The ball goes in. Your opponents stop playing and claim they win the rally because you didn’t hit the ball with your paddle. What’s the call?

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Luckily, this scenario is explicitly addressed in Rule #7.H of the 2024 USA Pickleball Official Rulebook. In the above scenario, you were hit above the wrist on your paddle hand. Because you were hit above the wrist — and not below the wrist —a fault should be declared.  Unfortunately for you, in this case, your opponents were correct.

Likewise, had the pickleball hit you in any place other than below your wrist on your paddle hand, a fault should be declared — even if the ball goes back over the net and into the opponent’s court from being hit.  Let’s look at the official rule applicable to this scenario.

USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)

Rule #7.H.

[A Fault will be Declared for the Following:] After the serve, the ball contacts a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying, except the paddle or the player’s hand(s) in contact with the paddle and below the wrist. If the player is in the process of changing hands with both hands on the paddle or is attempting a two-handed stroke and either hand is hit below the wrist, as long as a player’s hand is in contact with the paddle, the ball is still in play. The fault is on the player who was hit by the ball.

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About Todd

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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22 Comments

  1. I was taught that their was no “let” in pickleball. As long as the ball goes into the service court, it’s considered “in” even if it hits the net. After reading your comment above, I wonder if I was taught incorrectly. Please let me know.

    1. Hi Diane, The official rule recently changed (perhaps in 2020 or 2021). If the served ball hits the net and goes beyond the non-volley line and into the appropriate service court, it’s a “live” ball. Previously, it was considered a “let” and a replay of the serve. Incidentally, the professionals on the PPA tour still consider it a let and a replay of the serve. Us mere mortals, play it, however.

  2. During a rally the other team barely hit a ball onto our side. It bounced and the wind blew it back into their court without being touched by my paddle. Who wins the rally?

  3. Hi. Player is a good distance from the centre line. The serve is way off and caught by the player. There is no way it would be in , but the ball was caught and not allowed to bounce. Is it in or out ? Thanks

    1. In this instance, it’s a point for the serving team. You can reference Rule #4.N and 4.N.2:

      4.N. Receiver Faults. It is a fault against the receiving team resulting in a point for the server if:
      4.N.2. The receiver or the receiver’s partner is touched by or interferes with the flight of the ball before it bounces.

  4. Player is standing outside the back boundary line. The ball hits the player without bouncing. Is it out ? Which I believe it should be for hitting an object outside the court. Or is it a fault for hitting an opponent above the wrist ? Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Harry,

      It’s a fault on the player who was hit.

      SECTION 7 – FAULT RULES
      7. I. A live ball that is stopped by a player before it becomes dead. Example: catching or stopping a ball in flight before it makes contact with the court.

  5. Receiving a serve and I’m standing outside the court. The service is long, bounces outside the court then hits me. I called the ball out, but the service team objected, saying it hit me. They took the point and continued serving.

    Later, partner is receiving the service standing outside the court. The serve hits him before bouncing and I said “fault.” Their point.

    How did I do?

    1. Hi Douglas, On the first one, because the ball bounced outside the court before hitting you, it is a fault on the server. You were correct on this one. The service team was wrong for taking the point. On the second example, it’s the serving team’s point because you have to let the ball bounce first. If it hits the returner or his/her partner in the air before bouncing it is a point for the serving team. Hope this helps.

  6. A player attempts to volley a ball and misses it but does tip or nick it. Her partner plays the ball as if his partner didnt make contact. Both me and my partner heard and saw the flight of the ball change after the swing and almost miss. They claim that the nick or tip didnt happen. Who decides?

    1. Great question. Unfortunately, in this case, if both players from the “offending” team deny the infraction, the fault from the [supposed] infraction is not enforceable. I wrote a blog post on this exact scenario: https://www.pickleballmax.com/2019/07/disagreement-nvz-infraction-non-officiated-match/. Rule #13.D.1.b in the Official Tournament Rulebook specifies the only two “infractions” that are enforceable by one team only are NVZ infractions and service foot faults. Hope this helps.

  7. Ed….what is the correct order to call a ball in or out….like if I hit it across diagonally and it is close to the boundary line who should be the people that makes the call….I am assuming the player I hit it to would make the first call with perhaps a confirmation from the player directly across from him….if the players on the other side of the court call it the ball may look out when it is actually a “fair” ball. Thank you.

    1. Jenny, Whichever of the 2 players “clearly” saw the ball land “out” should make the call. It doesn’t matter which person. If there is disagreement, however, the benefit of the doubt would go to the opponents. Hope that helps.

  8. Looking down at the ball that lands near a line….if the ball slightly overlaps the line, is it considered good or out? I tend to call this good while everybody else in my PB universe calls it out. I get that the ball is harder than a tennis ball and it probably compresses or collapses less on impact, but for the purposes of making a call….it just seems impossible to make a consistent call doing anything other than the way I do it. But I’m losing a lot of close ones by doing this.

    1. Hi Ed, I tend to agree with you — although the letter of the law states that the ball can, indeed, overlap the line without actually touching it (because a pickleball doesn’t compress). You would presumably have to have bionic eyes, however, to make that distinction in real time. I’m like you and call it good. In my opinion, to call it out you’ve got to see space between the line and the ball. If you can’t see space, call it “good.” Hope that helps.

  9. My question deals with the veritcal centre “post” on a temporary pickleball net. What is the ruling if the ball hits the centre post and is redirected so much that it can not be returned. Would this result in a re-serve

  10. I have 2 questions that have come up in play regarding the non volley zone:

    1) opponent hits the ball to me and I hit a volley back to her partner who hits it out. I did not enter the NVZ prior to him hitting it to him, but I did walk through the corner of the NVZ after he hit the ball out. A fault was called on me. Seems to me that since both of my feet were outside the NVZ when I hit it to him and my “momentum” — even though my walking through it was not part of the hit — took place after he hit the ball out that a fault should not be called.

    2) opponent hits ball toward sideline near NVZ. I jump over the NVZ and hit ball around the post. I did not touch NVZ nor the right hand line. A fault was called since opponent thought the NVZ extended past the right and left lines. Told them the NVZ stopped at the right and left line and it was not a fault.

    What are your interpretations of these two situations?

    Thanks very much.

    1. Hi Robert, I agree with your opponent on #1. Any momentum from a volley (regardless if it occurred before or after your opponent hit it out) would result in a fault. As for #2, you are absolutely correct. The NVZ is 2-dimensional and stops at the right and left sideline. Jumping over the corner of the NVZ would not result in a fault. Hope that helps.

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