Let’s say you have mastered the art of hitting your opponent’s chicken wing. You hit a beautiful spot, but your opponent is able to return the pickleball with a very lucky fling of the paddle. However, instead of hitting your opponent’s paddle, the pickleball actually hits the back of your opponent’s hand. Is this considered a fault, as the pickleball hit your opponent’s body? Or, is this back of the hand considered part of the paddle, so that the point plays on?
The rules of pickleball have clearly answered this question. After the serve, you may only contact the pickleball with your paddle or your hand in contact with your paddle below your wrist. If you contact the pickleball with any other part of your body (including your hand in contact with your paddle above your wrist), or anything that you are wearing, then you would have committed a fault.
If you are a pickleball player that either changes hands that holds the paddle, or hits a two-handed backhand or other shot, then, as long as both hands are in contact with the paddle, the pickleball may hit either hand below the wrist and still be considered in play. For this exception to apply, both hands must be in contact with your paddle.
Further, to note, if you drop the pickleball before you hit the serve, and the pickleball hits your shoe or other body part, then this is not a fault. This rule only applies after the serve is hit.
Although this rule is easy to understand, it can be difficult to discern exactly where the pickleball hits a player in a fast-paced game. Use your best judgment and be honest out on the pickleball court.
For a deeper breakdown on the rules of pickleball, check out Pickler’s Ultimate Guide to the Rules of Pickleball.
Have you had an interesting rules issue on the pickleball court? Send it to us at email@example.com, so we can share with the rest of the pickleball community in a future newsletter.