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Pickleball Rules to Know – Quick Serve? Not So Fast

News Stacie Townsend 04-28-2020

Do you know someone that is always trying to quick serve you on the pickleball court – in other words, he or she starts the service motion as they are saying the score, or says the score very quickly and then serves the pickleball very quickly to try to catch you off guard? If so, and you do not have a referee officiating your match to police any rule violations, try these tips to combat the quick server!

  1. As discussed in Pickler’s blog Pickleball Rules to Know – Server Beware! You Have 10 Seconds, a server cannot start his or her service motion until the entire score has been called (in other words, all three digits during doubles play, or both two digits during singles play). If the quick server is starting his or her serve before the entire score is called, the server has committed a fault. Gently remind the server that starting the service motion before the entire score is called is a fault. 
  2. The score should not be called until the receiver is (or should be) in the correct position and the receiving team is (or should be) ready to play (see Rule 4.D of the 2020 Official Rulebook for USA Pickleball). Gently remind the server to be conscious of calling the score until you and your partner, as the receiving team, is (or should be) in the correct position and ready to play. To help indicate that you are “not ready” for the score to be called or the quick server to serve the pickleball, either (a) raise your pickleball paddle, or non-paddle hand, above your head, or (b) turn your back to the net. However, be aware that any “not ready” signals will be ignored if they are triggered after the start of the score being called. Also, be aware that “not ready” signals cannot be used to delay the game. (See Rule 4.C of the 2020 Official Rulebook for USA Pickleball for more on readiness and “not ready” signals.)
  3. If the quick server intentionally continues to quick serve you – especially in violation of the rules, whether by committing a fault or intentionally serving while you have signaled that you are “not ready” – then:
    1. For recreational settings, either (a) up your own readiness and anticipate the serve immediately when the server touches the pickleball, or (b) avoid situations where you are on the pickleball court with the quick server.
    2. For tournament or other organized competition settings, either (a) up your own readiness and anticipate the serve immediately when the server touches the pickleball, or (b) consider requesting a referee or the tournament director/organizer to help resolve the dispute (see Rule 13.K of the 2020 Official Rulebook for USA Pickleball).

Beware, however, that a server can, without committing a fault, serve the pickleball quickly if he or she waits until you are ready, calls (or allows the referee to call) the score completely, and then quickly serves.

Do you know someone that likes to quick serve? What do you do when someone quick serves you?


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