PPA Rules

PPA Rules vS. Rules for Everyone Else

It’s confusing. No doubt about it. Various rules adhered to at your local courts are sometimes different than those bound by professionals at PPA Tour stops.

As you can imagine, these differences create confusion for those who tune in to a PPA Live Stream on YouTube or a professional PPA match televised on the Tennis Channel, FS1 or ESPN. Invariably, these PPA-only rules then get projected to the local courts by well-intentioned amateurs.

The Rules that Differ

The two biggest differences between rules that are followed by professionals on the PPA Tour and rules that apply to everyone else relate to two rule changes that occurred in 2021 – serves that touch the net and the adoption of the drop serve.

Serves that Touch the Net According to USA Pickleball

According to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook, serves that hit the net and land beyond the non-volley zone (including beyond the non-volley line) and in the correct service court are live (as of 2021) and should be played. It is no longer a replay as it was prior to 2021. If any player stops play because of a service let being called, that player/team will have committed a fault

Rule #4.A.2.

Placement. The server must serve to the correct service court (the court diagonally opposite the server). The serve may clear or touch the net and must clear the NVZ and the NVZ lines. The serve may land on any other service court line.

USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)

Serves that Touch the Net According to PPA Tour

Serves that hit the net and land beyond the non-volley zone (including beyond the non-volley line) and in the correct service court are replayed by the professionals on the PPA Tour. It’s as if the rule change in 2021 never occurred. For what it’s worth, this is also how professional tennis handles this issue.

Drop Serves According to USA Pickleball

Drop serves are a second serving option (along with a volley serve) according to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook. Adopted as a provisional rule in 2021 and made permanent in 2022, the drop serve allows the server to drop the ball and hit it after it bounces on the playing surface.

Rule #4.A.8.

The Drop Serve. The drop serve is made by striking the ball after it bounces on the playing surface and can be made with either a forehand or backhand motion. There is no restriction how many times the ball can bounce nor where the ball can bounce on
the playing surface.

USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)

Drop Serves According to PPA Tour

The drop serve is not allowed on the PPA Tour (professionals only). The only valid service option for the PPA Tour professionals is to hit a volley serve – one that doesn’t bounce before making contact.

Volley Serve Tweaking by the PPA Tour [2024]

In addition to these two rule changes, the PPA is also currently testing out a rule (first tested and implemented at the 2024 PPA Masters) that makes it illegal to toss the ball up on the volley serve.

This currently-being-tested-rule mandates that the ball must be released below the top of the hip. Once again, this is for professional players on the PPA Tour only. This beta-testing is done, presumably, to make the serve a bit less weaponized at the professional level.

Closing Thoughts

Although there are other minor differences as it relates to the rules adhered to by 99.9% of amateur rec players and the professionals on the PPA Tour, the two major differences relate to the serve that hits the net and the drop serve.

None of this, however, should impact your enjoyment of the game. Just understand when some super-fan of the PPA quotes a pickleball rule, it may, in fact, only apply to the professionals on the PPA Tour and not to you.

See you on the courts!

Coach Todd
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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