One of the most common rules questions that we get here at Pickler is whether a specific situation constitutes a distraction. At the recent APP Punta Gorda Open (see the video below), a distraction was called on the court in a pro men’s doubles game between Hunter Johnson-Yates Johnson and Joey Farias-Andreas Siljestrom.
The rules of pickleball define a “distraction” as “[p]hysical actions by a player that are ‘not common to the game’ that, in the judgment of the referee, may interfere with the opponent’s ability or concentration to hit the ball. Examples include, but are not limited to, making loud noises, stomping feet, waving the paddle in a distracting manner or otherwise interfering with the opponent’s concentration or ability to hit the ball.” Further, as a reminder, the general rule in pickleball is that you may not distract an opponent when the opposing team is about to play the pickleball. If you distract an opponent that is about to play the pickleball, then you would have committed a fault.
Whether something rises to the level of a distraction is ultimately a “facts and circumstances” analysis. In the examples above, the scream by one of the Johnson twins was deemed a distraction because he yelled as Andreas Siljestrom was making a play on the pickleball (albeit a tough ATP shot). As a result, the Johnsons committed a fault and lost the rally.
Do you agree with this call?