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Pickleball Rules — 2020 Changes

This post lists rule changes from prior years.  To view the current year (2024) rule changes, please click here.

January, 2020. It’s that time of year again – a time when the certified referees and the pickleball rule nerds voraciously consume and put-into-practice the annual pickleball rule changes just published.

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Adding Clarity & Application to the Pickleball Rules

As was also done in 2019, accompanying the just-recently published 2020 official pickleball rulebook, is the 2020 pickleball rule change document that highlights the major rulebook changes from the previous edition – including comprehensive explanations detailing why each of the particular rule(s) was modified. In many, if not most, instances, verbiage was simply added and/or changed to add clarity and application to the rule.

A Few of the Pickleball Rule Changes…

While I will not go thru each pickleball rule change implemented for 2020, I will highlight a handful of the changes:

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A Change to the Document Title

Firstly, if you are a cover-to-cover reader, you may have noticed that on the front cover, the word “Tournament” was removed.  This was done simply to reinforce the idea that the pickleball rules apply to more than just tournament play.

“Wait, I’m Not Ready.”

Readiness (Rule #4.c) was changed so that any player, not just the “proper” server or receiver, can give the “not ready” signal if they are not ready to serve or receive.  This was a much needed, common-sense change.

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See ya, Figure 6.1.

Figure 6-1.  Good bye.  Adios.  Arrivederci.  If you cannot see space between the ball and the line, don’t guess and call it out.  Figure 6-1 has been removed from the 2020 Official Rulebook.  Thank goodness.

Under the Net.  Huh?

11.I.1: Exception: If the ball bounces into a receiving player’s court with enough backspin or wind aid to cause it to return back over the net, the receiving player may reach over the net, around the net post or under the net to hit the ball, but only after the ball crosses back over the plane of the net to the opponent’s side.

Really?  Under the net?  I would love to see video of this scenario!

A Replay for NVZ faults & Service Foot Faults.  Why?

13.D.1.b: Players may call NVZ faults and service foot faults on the opponent’s side of the court. If there is any disagreement among players about the called fault, a replay shall occur.

Not sure about that one.  It seems to me that if your opponent sees you in the Non-Volley Zone while you’re executing a volley, it’s a fault.  End of story.  I can understand a replay if there is disagreement on the service foot fault because of the distance — but not on the line just 7 feet across the net. Oh well.

I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think of the 2020 rule changes?

Need More Pickleball Rules Clarifications & Interpretations?

Please reference our pickleball rules page for a link to the Pickleball 2020 Official Rulebook and Change Document.  Additionally, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you receive additional pickleball rules clarifications and interpretations for many of the common — and not-so-common — scenarios that happen on the pickleball courts. By subscribing to the newsletter you will also receive pickleball tips, strategies, tournament recaps and more.


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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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    1. Hi Steve, Yup, as of January 25, 2021, a let on the serve has been eliminated. A ball that hits the top of the net is now be a live ball and must be played as long as the ball lands beyond the non-volley line and in the correct service box.

  1. Hey enjoy reading the tips.
    I do have a question on pickleballs. We have indoor balls, but why 2 types of outdoor balls. My social play always want to use the standard ball (softer ball), but tournament and ladder play is with the DuraFast 40 ball, which is a very different ball (much faster). It take some time to get used to it, more than a game or two (sometimes days). Why doesn’t the Pickleball Assoc. just dump the softer ball for outdoor use and use only the Durafast. I am trying to get the social play to play with the Durafast balls or at least setup a court or two with only this ball.

    Art Klein

    1. Hi Art, The USAPA has, indeed, approved many different brands of balls based on the technical specs of the balls. It seems like everybody has their own preference. I most enjoy playing with the DuraFast 40 ball. It does take some getting used to, however, if that’s not the ball with which you typically play.

  2. Please address the serve rule Holding the paddle, the swing( from low to high?) spin on the ball, etc. Thanks

  3. Pickleball is becoming better in each passing year. I like the big move — modification of the rules. Hope the suggestions so far on the comments in this post and from other sources will be implemented soon. Thank you.

  4. I have to agree with you on the NVZ foot fault “do over”. The rule writers must be changing rules to suit the “recreational player.” Maybe I can get the PGA to change some of their rules to suit my game. Just kidding!

  5. So does this new line call rule clarify anything?? Should of left it alone, with the surface or center of the ball must touch line to be good. This does not help. It still depends on the angle of view.

    1. Hi Art, This isn’t a new pickleball rule. They simply removed Figure 6-1 from the official rulebook. Here is the justification quoted directly from the 2020 Rules Change Document:

      Figure 6-1 was removed because it was misleading players. The ball that was overlapping the line with the word “OUT” was the issue. Many thought this implied that any ball that overlapped the line by greater than 50% (which is what appeared to be the case in the picture) was “OUT”. Too many players were calling balls “OUT” based on an assumption or “educated guess” and using the diagram as justification since in many cases they can’t clearly see where the ball contacts the court. One cannot assume the ball is “OUT”. The ball must be clearly seen “OUT” without a shadow of doubt. Otherwise the ball must be assumed “IN”.

      1. OK, so the rules still stands that the contact surface of the ball (centerline) must make contact with the line to be considered in. Being a former tennis player I had no issue with the rule. Removing the illustration does not help to clarify the rule, that’s if I’m interpreting it correctly. To me the illustration was perfectly fine. Maybe some additional verbiage to the illustration would be helpful. Just my opinion.

  6. Rule change 6.1
    I don’t think a lot of rec players new that the ball was out from the old rule diagram. Imagine a overhead slam and calling it out before the rule change!

  7. I wish to suggest a rule change for Pickleball. Can you provide an address, I have searched without success.


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