By Mark Peifer, USA Pickleball Certified Referee; Past Chairman, USA Pickleball Rules Committee
“Some of my friends have said that the serving rules have changed, and it’s no longer okay to play a let. Is this true? What are the current rules for playing a let serve (that falls outside the NVZ)?“
The USA Pickleball rules related to serves and what happens if the serve touches the net are described in Rule 4.A.2:
4.A.2. Placement. The server must serve to the correct service court (the court diagonally opposite the server). The serve may clear or touch the net and must clear the NVZ and the NVZ lines. The serve may land on any other service court line.
Rule 4.A.2 makes it clear that ‘let serves’, which used to result in a replay, are no longer allowed. That rule came into place two years ago and has not changed. Unfortunately, one of the pro tours has, however, continued to allow replay upon a let serve for their pro players. Of note is that amateur players who play at those same tournaments play by the USA Pickleball rules; there are no ‘let serves’. Because the pro players on that tour do replay ‘let serves’, there has been some confusion for the amateur players who watch those pro tournaments.
Here is the bottom line: For amateur play everywhere, if a serve hits the top of the net but lands in the correct service court, play on. There is no longer any replay in this case.