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Carrying an Extra Ball in Your Pocket When Playing pickleball? A-OK? Fault?

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

It’s a question that is routinely asked in pickleball rules forums. Is one allowed to carry an extra ball when playing pickleball? And, if legal, what happens if that extra ball falls to the playing surface during the rally?

Although it may be convenient to carry an extra ball when playing, doing so does entail some inherent risk if the ball is not secure. Not only does one risk losing the rally if the ball falls to the playing surface during the rally (see USA Pickleball Official Rulebook citation below), but you also risk injury if you happen to sustain a fall and land awkwardly on that ball.

USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)

Here is the applicable rule that addresses carrying an extra ball and what happens should the ball fall to the playing surface during a rally.

Rule #7.N.

In non-officiated matches, players may carry an additional pickleball(s) as long as the ball(s) is carried in a way that the ball(s) is not visible to their opponent(s) during play.

If an additional ball that a player was carrying falls on the playing surface during play, a fault shall be declared.

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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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