Anticipation for the pickleball rule changes for 2022 was at a fever pitch this year. Last year (2021) saw the introduction of several “controversial” rules into the Official Rulebook. With the explosion of players looking to “bend” the rules (take advantage of loopholes) as much as legally possible, the pickleball community was involved this year, like no other, in the process.
The Rulebook Revision Process
It all starts with you – assuming you are a USA Pickleball member. As a USA pickleball member, you are allowed and encouraged (up until June 10 – referred to as the “public input opportunity”) to submit changes by email to the USA Pickleball Rules Submission Coordinator.
After public comments have been considered, there is further review and approval required by the IFP Rules Committee, the USA Pickleball Rules Committee, and finally the USA Pickleball Board of Directors. The USA Pickleball Board of Directors has the final say in the process with up-or-down votes on the proposed changes.
How Many Pickleball Rules Changes were Considered for 2022?
According to a Melody Woodsum post in the “Ask the (Pickleball) Refs” Facebook Group, “The USA Pickleball Rules Committee received a total of 71 suggested changes (after consolidation of like items) from the public. Thirty-three of those were recommended by the IFP Rules committee for consideration by the USAP Rules Committee, who passed 19 on to the USAP Board for their consideration of approval. The Board accepted 18 of those 19 proposed changes.”
What are the Rule Changes Coming in 2022?
With a proposed effective date of January 1, 2022, here are a handful of the more notable changes effective in the new year:
- The “provisional” status of the drop serve has been removed. This service option has now been made “permanent” beginning in 2022. Adding the drop serve as an available serve option has been a good change as it does give brand new players an opportunity for service success immediately if they are struggling with the traditional method. Here is a primer on the drop serve and the traditional serve – along with FAQs for each.
- Spin Serves using a combination of the paddle, paddle hand, or non-paddle hand to impart spin on the ball will be illegal. This outlaws the “chainsaw” serve that was popularized in 2021. It’s important to note, however, that the server will still be able to legally impart spin using only their non-paddle hand. This makes a lot of sense to me. If Morgan Evans can successfully serve it this way, I’m quite certain others can figure it out as well.
- Rally scoring was rejected. Again in 2022, you can only score points if you are the serving team. This rejection of rally scoring will surely make the “traditionalists” very happy.
- The official scoring nomenclature to begin a game remains 0-0-2. 0-0-Start was not approved. I’m quite sure beginners can figure it out!
- Reinstating the let serve was rejected. Serves that hit the net and land beyond the non-volley zone and in the correct service court continue to be live and should be played. My Saturday morning group, however, will continue to replay let serves. We’re rebels that way!
These were just a few of the rule changes that are coming in 2022. The Official Rulebook and Change Document will be published shortly. In the meantime, what do you think? Let us know in the comments below. Are you happy with these changes?
See you on the courts.