If you recall from a recent blog (Pickleball Rules to Know – Pickleball Equipment Malfunction), if you have a pickleball equipment malfunction (e.g. broken paddle or lost item) during a point, stay focused and keep playing, unless a fault has occurred.
Now, let’s say you avoided the fault and the rally continues, as your lost item (e.g. a hat or a towel) fell on to your side of the pickleball court, but outside of the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen. However, your opponents now return the pickleball back to your side of the court and the pickleball coincidentally hits your hat or towel on your side of the court. What happens? Is the rally over? Did your opponents win the point?
Rule 11.H of the 2020 Official Rulebook for USA Pickleball provides that the pickleball remains in play and the rally stays alive even if the pickleball strikes the lost item that landed on a pickleball player’s own respective side of the court.
With that said, remember that a fault occurs if the item lands in the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen in connection with a volley (i.e. the pickleball does not bounce and a player strikes the pickleball in the air). This would be a Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen fault similar to a foot fault. However, if the lost item lands in the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen other than as a result of a volley, then no fault occurs.
In summary, if the pickleball hits an item that fell on to your side of the pickleball court that does not result in a fault, keep playing and keep the rally going!