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.
*Click here for the 2023 Pickleball Rule Changes*
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.
Since the lines next to the kitchen (Non Volley Zone) is considered a fault, should those lines be red in color? I have played pickleball where the non volley zone was red but all the lines are white. I also seen pickleball courts where the court is one color and all the lines are white. Another suggestion regarding multi-color pickleball courts, no lines be added to the non volley zone and only have lines part of the court where play is called in.
Richard Gale says
where to start, i have a question i am hoping some1 can help with, i play recreation pickleball in Nova Scotia Canada and i find myself having to argue constantly about people getting the same amount of pickleball games in as everyone else
they have it set up that winners stay on , but when the 2 new players go on they split up and 1 goes with 1 winner and the other with the other winner
so when that games is over the winners get to stay on court, so what happens is that 1 of the people (original winner of first game)stay on again and gets 3 games in a row, while the other player who played with the other original winner who has played 2 games now only gets to play that 1 game
i am the type who thinks to be fair is that regardless who wins or loses the 2 who joined the first winners should both stay on and be able to play 2 games in a row also
am i wrong in thinking this because i get a lot of flack for constantly for arguing this point. to me its simple math, you play 2 games in a row and sit 1 out regardless if you win or not so everyone gets the same amount of games for their money, thxs for any reply
It’s very common that winners stay-and-split. It’s also very common that players are limited to playing a maximum of 2 or 3 games in a row before they are “required” to come off the court. Each venue does it differently, however.
Don H. says
I’m totally disappointed that rally point scoring has been rejected.
We have 50 players trying to rotate on 6 courts and have 6 groups playing and 6 groups waiting. We have instituted first to 11 wins and then clear the court to speed up play.
Even with that, when games get to only exchanging serves with no scoring, wait times can increase to 20 – 25 minutes. Almost need to warm up when you get to go back out.
When we use rally scoring and play to 15, the games are around 10 minutes, as there’s a point scored every rally regardless of which team serves. You get to the end result regardless of the play…a point awarded every rally to whichever team wins the rally.
This type of scoring , as used in volleyball, ping pong and badminton etc, makes players play with more focus and purpose as a mistake on your side gives the opponents a point, not just a loss of serve. For example, a player makes an ATP that lands in the back of the court and is in…in conventional scoring if the other team is serving, it’s a loss of serve for the opponents and the team that made the fantastic shot only gets to see the second server. In rally point, that shot gets a point for the team that made it as a reward for playing so well. When serving in rally point, there’s no second chance (2nd server) and if you miss your serve, the other team benefits from your mistake as they get a point. Again, more focus and purpose. There’s never any exchange of serves without a change in score, like traditional 4-7, 7-4, 4-7, 7-4 and you’ve played ten minutes with no change in the game. In that scenario, 8 people have served with no change in the game. In rally point, there’s been 8 points awarded to the teams that win the rallies. The game moves along faster with a more physical workout and when you have 50 players trying to play on 6 courts it also speeds up court rotation and reduces wait times significantly.
If they want PB to be an entertainment sport they will have to switch to rally point as broadcasters can’t devote that much air time to a game that moves so slowly. Even tennis holdouts like Wimbledon have changed their tie break rules for the last set to get to a quicker end of game as it can be ridiculously long to determine the winner, famously the Isner marathon. I will play rally point at every opportunity and wait for the day the USAPA adopts that scoring.
James Anderson says
When there are a lot of players waiting to play, we use rally scoring to minimize the wait times with the following revision: when either side reaches 10, (game is to 11) you revert to traditional scoring, and must win by 2. This makes both teams “earn” the win, and not win by an error (forced or unforced). It workes for us!
Duane H says
I agree with those who are in favor of the old let serve policy. Coming from a tennis background, it was hard for me to adjust to playing a let serve. If cheating is a problem in pickle ball which it never was for me playing tennis for 30 years, a comment to the person regarding their wish to continue to play in our group might be in order. Someone told me the other day that pros play the old let rule. Is that true? Also the comment about flimsy indoor nets was especially valid.
Hi Duane, The professional events (not amateur events) in the PPA Tour abide by the “old” rule (replay a let serve). The professional events in the APP Tour, however, abide by the new rule of playing a let serve. A little confusing, I know. Hope that helps.
David M. says
For those who do not favor the elimination of the “let” serve… I understand the frustration. But I for one approve of the change.
I officiate volleyball, and VB has no “let” serve rule. If a serve hits the net and lands in play, point to the server.
As I understand the purpose of the “No-let” rule change, it was specifically to eliminate the potential for the receiver to call “Let” when a serve was just very difficult… in order to avoid losing a point. That purpose seems to have been realized.
As far as giving an advantage to the server, I agree that it does do that… and I welcome it. In reality, however, it’s the same advantage that any player has at any time within a rally… if he/she can drive the ball so close to the net that it contacts the net, goes over, and still lands in bounds, they deserve to win that rally! We should never take a person’s point away if their accuracy is so precise that the net helps them win the rally… whether on serve or later on in he rally.
Thanks, David. Appreciate your feedback and contribution. As you know, I’m not a fan of playing the “let,” especially on temporary nets that are a bit flimsier than the permanent nets.
David Jones says
Hello David M. Totally agree. And, people are getting upset about something that ‘may’ happen once a game, if not once a match. Especially how most serve the ball. Have a good holiday.
Don Kenyon says
Item #2 above states:
“Spin Serves using a combination of the paddle, paddle hand,
[[or non-paddle hand to impart spin on the ball will be ILLEGAL ]]
“It’s important to note, however, that the server will still be able to
LEGALLY impart spin using only their non-paddle hand.”]]
.aren’t these statements in conflict with each other?
The key word here is “combination.” Adding pre-serve spin using only the non-paddle hand is legal. Combining the non-paddle hand with either the paddle or paddle-hand to generate the pre-serve spin makes it illegal. Hope that helps.
Wallace Gillard says
The drop serve is a great addition to the game, gives the player(s) more options and variety when serving. Who are the players complaining, I bet they’re really not that many that care one way or the other?
My vote is leave it be.
I agree, Wallace. The drop serve simply adds another option (without giving them an advantage) for players who are struggling with the “traditional” serve. Thanks for chiming in.
David Carr says
Can the server use the non-paddle hand to spin the ball during his serve?
Sky Valley Pickleball Club
In 2022, the server will be permitted to impart pre serve spin on the ball by using only the non-paddle hand. You will not be allowed to use the non-paddle hand IN COMBINATION with the paddle or paddle hand to impart spin. Hope that helps!
Looking at the pre-serve spin I note that the ball is projected upwards by the non-paddle hand, how can this be said to be from a neutral position. In my mind the ball should not rise above the non-paddle hand, otherwise you could just throw it up into air when doing a “drop-serve”.
J.M. Pena says
I serve spins serves by rotating my grip on the paddle from continental to eastern or western grips with a slight undercut. I drop the ball with no spin on it. I guess what I am saying is that my serve would be legal if compared to Morgan Evan’s. I would also be in favor of allowing the “let” serve to continue.
Sounds like a good serve. Both you and Morgan Evans have a legal serve. In 2022, one can still impart pre serve spin on the ball by using the non-paddle hand only. Sounds like your serve is effective without even doing that! In terms of the let serve, I agree!
Linda Tonya says
I’m still not clear on the changes to the spin serve. I understand not allowing the chainsaw serve, but does the change to the serve rule mean that you cannot impart spin on the ball by “slicing” the ball with the paddle?
Hi Linda, Yes, spinning by “slicing” the ball with the paddle as the serve is struck is still permitted. The act of “slinging the ball off the paddle face” before the serve is hit, is, however, outlawed this year. Hope that helps.
Mark Taitz says
I’m also confused about the spin serve rule. The other major sports upon which Pickleball is based — tennis and ping pong — have no such restriction and I see no reason for Pickleball to move in a different direction. Does the new rule ban both forehand and backhand slices and topspin as well?? Seems to me that if that’s the case, we are dumbing down the game which would be unfortunate.
Just to be clear, we’re talking about PRE serve spin. I believe in ping-pong the ball has to be tossed from the palm of the hand so that no PRE serve spin can be applied. The pickleball rules committee didn’t take it that far. In 2022 you will still be able to impart PRE serve spin with only your non-paddle hand (like Morgan Evans does). You will not be able, however, to impart PRE serve spin using a combination of the paddle, paddle hand, or non-paddle hand. Hitting through a serve with topspin, backspin, side-spin or any other type of spin is still permitted, as long as the “traditional” elements of a legal serve are still met. Hope that helps!
Barbara Johnson, DA Eastern MD says
Not happy with no let serve. Many many older people play this game. For years, everyone has been playing with a let serve. Now, that it is gone, people rush to the kitchen line, to try and get a serve that previously would have been a let serve. I have seen quite a few accidents when this happens, some with older people being hurt. As Yogi said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is terrible for the majority of players who are older. Also, many come from a tennis background, where let serves are replayed. They are used to this. All around, a bad move.
Hi Barbara, I am also disappointed that a replay on let serves was eliminated for 2021 and not reinstated for 2022. My private group that plays on Saturday mornings, however, has agreed not to adopt this particular rule change, and, therefore, we continue to treat it as a do-over. That’s one rule we (well, maybe I) just can’t get past.
Ed Severance says
Have to agree with you folks on the ‘let’ serve rule. All the advantage goes to the server, which makes no sense to me. Our group goes from the mid 30’s to our oldest of 88. Very tough for them to get to a serve that hits and drops.
David Jones says
Hello Barbara. First. I’ll have to disagree. I’m glad the let serve is staying, just part of the game. And it rarely happens, especially how older players serve. Second. You generalize quite a bit in your comment. It’s not terrible for the majority of older players. It’s terrible for the minority of players who play beyond their abilities. It’s like the net ball, where it just falls over the net, in. Older players just let them go. Because. They know they can’t get them. Third. I guess retired tennis players will just have to get used to it. Which. They will. Have a great holiday.
Richard Jones says
Todd, Thanks for the update. Obviously, at least to me, the most interesting change is not really that much of a change at all. The DROP SERVE will be allowed, and even encouraged for players having a difficult time executing a serve, as it gives them additional time to focus (even if only a second).
With respect to the spin serve, the key here seems to be the word COMBINATION. Most of the players I’ve encountered will still be able to impart spin on the ball using only their non-paddle hand, which makes their serve much more difficult to return. My experience is that the receiver cannot control their return as effectively but will learn to improve or else lose a lot of points on serve.
This sort of reminds me of the big change in baseball over 100 yrs. ago when pitchers started throwing the ball overhand. The game was forever changed, but batters adapted. The biggest noticeable difference was that we no longer had 50+ run games and defense was emphasized to a greater degree. Batters also started using lighter bats. So be it.
Once again, thanks for keeping us updated and informed.
Thanks, Richard. For better or worse, the game is forever evolving. Still the greatest game out there!
Chet Zaborowski says
I have been playing pickleball, successfully for over 6 years as a rehab for 2 total knee replacement. It was fun and healthy. My question is simple, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. Seems that all these new rules benefit the 5-0’s more than the new players. Like crooked politicans, who change the rules to benefit themselves. Modern sports have professional and amateur clubs, teams and rules. Sounds like this is happening to pickleball. Let’s make pickleball fun again.
Thanks, Chet, for chiming in. Not exactly sure which rules you’re referring to that benefit the 5.0’s over the newer players. It seems to me that reigning in the spin serve as well as removing the “provisional” designation from the drop serve are all intended to help those newer to the game.
David Jones says
Yes, Chet. Could you please specify the rules you are talking about? Otherwise, your comment is moot. Also, I suspect, even w/ the new rules, you will continue to play.
Nancy Fisher says
Please explain what happens if a person calls the score incorrectly. What I have read so far is confusing.
Hi Nancy, Great question. To answer your question I went directly to the USA Pickleball website where they list the “pass” results of the rules change entries. The following verbiage constitutes the proposed rule change:
Hope this helps!
I love this rule! So frustrating when someone stops play after a serve….sometimes it’s used as a “strategy” to throw off the other team. Ha – well – now they won’t be able to do that!