Pickleball Rules FAQ: 12 Common Pickleball Rules Questions Answered

If you are new to the game and want a comprehensive understanding of the most common pickle ball rules, then you should definitely check out this article.   

However, if you have a question you're looking for an answer to, you'll most likely find it below.  

How do you approach rules in a casual game environment?  

Some of the questions about pickles have to do with niche rules that don't come up very often.  I've included some of them in this list, but omitted many.  

The reason is that certain rules that are absolutely applicable in a tournament environment are applied much less frequently in a casual game environment.  

For example, a common tournament rule that you often see is one that revolves around faulty receivers or servers.  The referee will track who the correct server or receiver is.  

But in casual games, no one usually cares, and that's fine.  As long as you make a conscious effort to keep things in line, you'll be fine.  

So keep in mind that as we go through this list, some of the rules listed here may not be enforced in an entertainment environment because, frankly, most players don't care.  

What happens when the serve hits the net and goes over?  

Compared to other shots in pickleball, the position where the serve can and cannot land is different.  But fortunately, it's easy to understand.  

If the ball hits the net on your serve, bounces into your opponent's court and lands on the service box, this is what we call a "let."  It just means you can serve again.  This can happen an infinite number of times.  

Remember that the service box includes centerlines, baselines, and edges.  But it doesn't include kitchen line!  Also, if it lands outside your opponent's tee box, it will be a mistake, just like you didn't hit the ball.  

So the next question is: what happens if it does hit the kitchen or the kitchen production line?  As you might have guessed, this is an error.  The serve must not fall into the kitchen or hit the kitchen line, whether or not the ball is in the net.

 

How do line call rules work in pickleball?  

Line calls are one of the most common areas of debate in Pickleball.  There is more debate about this topic on the court than about anything else in the sport.  

Here's what you need to know.  The physical material used to make the ball must come into contact with the paint that makes up the line.  Both elements have to be in contact to take the ball into account.  

It doesn't matter if the ball hovers over the line without touching the paint.  

This is a huge topic and I have more information here, but let me give you a shortlist.  

If a ball lands near one of your lines and it is close, you must call it in.  

The ball must be wired quickly after landing.  

Do I have to score before serving?  

Oh boy, this is one of my personal pet peeves.  Technically, yes, you have to calculate the score before serving.  However, as I said in the rules of entertainment, some people don't, or they talk so quietly that you can't hear them.  

That's why it's a good idea to know fractions at all times.  If you're a beginner, this will take some getting used to.  But it is a useful thing to be good at.  

If you are in a tournament, you must wait until the referee has counted all the scores before serving.  

Can you use both OARS at the same time?  

No, but it would be fun if we could!  

You cannot use the paddle with every hand, however, you can change hands.  Some dexterous players will switch the paddle to the other hand to shoot.  I personally don't recommend this, but it does work for some people.  

You only call the shots on the pitch where you are.  

If you disagree with your opponent's call, you can ask them or the referee.  

If you call a shot, but your partner calls it in, call it in.  

If you have any questions about whether the ball is in or out, call automatic entry.  

Can you hit the ball with your hands?  

In short, no.  Suppose you put down your paddle and hit the ball with your hand in a panic.  Funny, to say the least, but a mistake.  

 

However, if your swing is inaccurate and you end up hitting the ball with your hand while holding the paddle, then this is legal.  

Imagine you're holding your paddle and it's pointing straight at the ground.  Any ball that hits you on the wrist and below near the end of the racket is legal.  But you have to hold on to the OARS to do that.  

What happens if a ball bounces around you and spins back?  

If a ball with a lot of spin bounces off your side of the court and comes back, the ball is still in play and you can still hit it.  Yes, you can hit the ball even if it's on the other side of the court.  

You can run to the net and hit the ball.  The most popular strategy is to knock it back into the network, which is legal.  

But remember, if the ball bounces on their side, it's a mistake, because the first bounce happens next to you.  As it crosses the network, you need to hit it quickly.  

The other rule to keep in mind here is the rule about the net plane.  You can't go over the plane of the net unless you're hitting the ball.  If you decide for any reason that you need to pass to the other side, you better hit the ball, otherwise it's a mistake!  

What do you mean dead ball?  

Simply put, a dead ball simply means the ball is no longer in play.  Once an error is declared in any way due to a kitchen violation or the ball being dropped outside the court, the ball becomes dead at the moment the error occurs.  

That means whatever happens to the ball doesn't matter anymore.  But remember, this applies only to the ball itself, not to any other rule.  If a dead ball is declared, but you made a kitchen error, the kitchen error still applies!  

What happens if you hit your opponent with your serve?  

That's your point!  I know this rule seems a little crazy.  But in general, if you get hit by a ball outside the wrist and below the end of the racket, it's a mistake.

 Can you spin the ball before serving?  

There are no rules on how the server should throw the ball.  

You can throw it high, low, spin, no spin, or not throw it at all.  There are no rules on this, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw some in the future.  

It doesn't matter if they just mind their own business and wait for the serve to happen.  If anyone on their team gets hit by a serve, it's a point for you.  

Can you hit a bouncing ball in the kitchen?
This is a myth I hear all the time. Some people think you can't even drink balls in the kitchen. That's not true. Let me take a quick look at how kitchen rules come into play in pickle balls.

Because of the momentum of the kitchen, you can't tackle in the past, now or ever. A volley is a shot that has not yet bounced off the ground.
If the ball bounces, kitchen rules no longer apply.
As we'll talk about later, the kitchen is the physical surface on the floor, not the space above.

Is there a difference in scoring in singles?  

There are only two things you need to know about the rules when playing singles.  

You are the only server, so the third number in the score is taken out.  

Your service location depends only on your score.  

The second rule tends to be a little confusing.  Look at it this way: When your scores are even, you start serving from the right side of the court.  When your score is odd, you start serving from the left.  

Is it illegal to intentionally hit a player with a ball?  

Intentionally hitting a player is not illegal.  However, points can be awarded to the other team if a player maliciously tries to hurt a player if the referee thinks so.  However, it is entirely up to the referee and it is very rare for such a shoot-based decision to happen.  

For clarity's sake, I've never seen or heard anything like this before.  

In pickleball it is easy to understand that being hit by a ball is a normal part of the game.  It happens.  The player will deliberately try to hit a part of the player near it.  Some common areas are on the side of the waist or near the shoulders.  Although players rarely attempt to hit someone, sometimes inaccurately peek at its ugly head and hit someone.  

It happened and got an apology.  It's part of the game and you have to get used to it.