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Q&A – PLAY OR REPLAY

Rules Refresh Mark Peifer 03-13-2024

By Mark Peifer, USA Pickleball Certified Referee; Past Chairman, USA Pickleball Rules Committee

QUESTION:  A ball landed on the receiver’s side of the net with enough backspin that it went back over the net before the receiver could make a play on the ball. Let’s call this Player A. After the ball went back over the net, Player A reached over the net and hit the ball back towards the net, but it hit the large crossbar that runs from net post to net post. The referee immediately called for a replay. Why is this smart play by the player considered a replay?

ANSWER:  To fully understand this situation, we have to look at three rules. The first one, which you have described very well, is Rule 11.I.1. Just as you described, as long as the back-spinning ball crosses back over the net, Player A may reach over the net and play the ball. To understand the hitting of the crossbar, however, we look to a different rule. 

All the rules in the Rulebook are referenced to a standard net system. The standard net system is described in Section 2.C of the Rulebook. Essentially, it includes two permanent net posts, anchored in the court, with a net strung between them. What you described, however, was not a standard net system, so separate rules were written to cover those, which are commonly referred to as ‘temporary nets’. 

Please see Rule 11.L.5.b. In your scenario, Player A made a legal play, but the ball hit the horizontal bar before bouncing on the court. Player B must be allowed to play the ball. Because that crossbar isn’t there on a standard net system, we have to account for that difference in your scenario by giving Player B a replay. It’s the fair and just thing to do. Now, if it was a standard net system, then Player B would have had a chance to play the ball off the net. 

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