Imagine your opponent attempts an Erne. However, you hit the pickleball just out of reach, so that your opponent cannot hit the pickleball. In the Erne attempt, your opponent’s momentum carries him or her out of bounds just passed the pickleball net. FAULT!
Now, why was this a fault? The rules of pickleball state that a pickleball player may not cross the plane of the pickleball net (or the imaginary extension line of the pickleball net beyond the net posts) until after that pickleball player has hit the pickleball. This includes anything that the pickleball player is wearing or carrying, such as a pickleball paddle. So, your opponent committed a fault in this example because your opponent did not hit the pickleball before passing the imaginary extension of the pickleball net. Again, your opponent may only cross the plane of the pickleball net after he or she strikes the pickleball (which he or she did not hit the pickleball in this example).
There is one exception to this general rule in that a pickleball player may cross the plane of the pickleball net before striking the pickleball if and only if the pickleball bounces and has enough backspin or wind to cause the pickleball to return to the other side untouched (i.e., the over-and-back pickleball). In this case, the player may reach across the plane of the net to strike the pickleball.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can share with the rest of the pickleball community in a future newsletter.