We get it… the rules of pickleball can sometimes be confusing. One rule that has confused us all this year is the let serve – not because the actual rule is complicated, but because who follows the rule is complicated. Let’s break it down…
Beginning in 2021, USA Pickleball changed the rule regarding the let serve. Before the beginning of 2021, any serve that touched the pickleball net, and landed in the correct service box (but not on the Non-Volley Zone line), resulted in a replay of the serve. In other words, a let serve resulted in a replay.
However, beginning in 2021, this rule has been changed to remove service lets in an effort to (1) preserve the integrity of the sport and prevent receiving teams from calling “phantom lets” on “ace serves”; (2) reduce conflicts between players or between referees and players over a let call; and (3) stop referees from performing a referee technique that some players found distracting, which was holding the pickleball net on the serve to detect lets and then stepping back out of bounds. So, now, if a serve touches the pickleball net, and lands in the correct service box (but not on the Kitchen line), the rally plays on – there is no replay of the serve.
Generally speaking, this is an easy rule change. However, with certain tournaments refusing to follow this rule for professional players (e.g., the PPA Tour events and the US Open Pickleball Championships), while others do follow the rule (e.g., USA Pickleball tournaments and the APP Tour events), it can be confusing to know which rules to follow for those that watch the pros play and those that play at that level. Halfway through the calendar year, we still find ourselves pausing every time the serve hits the net. Not because we do not know the rule, but what rules do our partner and our opponents want to play by.
When you step onto the pickleball court, it may be a good idea to ask your foursome which rules apply. And, if you forget, be sure to play the let serve just in case there are no replays!
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.