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Presented by:
Dereck R. Prince, USA Pickleball Association Certified Referee 303-807-0798 | dereck@PickleballGameStats.com


  • move all timing faults to a consistent point in time: the actual serve of the ball

  • removed the "chess match" between referees and players and lets the game be decided

    on the skill of the players only

    Applying to both Recreational and Competitive/Tournament Play

  1. LetServeReplays:

    • no longer valid
    • why? To prevent possible conflict between referees and players (or among players

    when no referee is present) when a let is called as well as possible cheating • ball MUST be played as normal
    • if play is stopped or the ball is not returned, it is a fault

  2. TheDropServe:

    • provisional: on a one-year trial and may/may not be removed after the year • the ball:

     can be held and dropped from as high as the player can reach

    •   CANNOT be thrown down (i.e., downward force cannot be applied)

    •   CANNOT be tossed upward either

    •   can land ANYWHERE inside or outside of the baseline

    •   can be dropped or re-dropped again and again (if, for example, it hits an

      imperfection on the court and takes a weird bounce) as long as it happens

      within the 10 seconds
       can bounce more than once

      • after the ball bounces, NOTHING MATTERS (e.g., contact point, upward motion, etc.) except the feet

      • receiver must see the release or else the serve MUST be replayed
      • player can impart any type of spin as the ball is hit
      • serve can be with either a forehand or backhand motion
      • server CAN be in motion as long as the serve happens within the 10 seconds • server may switch styles during a game without penalty

  3. TheCOVIDServe:

    • slinging the ball up into the air before/to initiate the serve is NOT a fault • ball MUST be hit by the paddle before it touches the ground
    • all the rules of a normal serve apply


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4. CallingtheScore:

• can be done while the server's arm is in motion
• MUST be completed before the ball is actually struck
• can be called by either teammate, not only the server; however, that person MUST

continue calling the score for the entire duration of the game, else it is a fault
• if an inadvertent score is called by the original server, the rally MUST be replayed

with no penalty

5. WrongScoreCalled:

• no fault/penalty!
• players have until the Third Shot to ask for a correction
• ball must be served again
• after the Third Shot, play must continue until the end of the rally and a correction

must be made on the next serve, otherwise it is a fault if play is stopped

6. LineCalls:

  • players should not call the ball “out” unless they can CLEARLY see a space between the line and the ball as it hits the ground

  • no replay simply because the receiving player did not clearly see the ball out

  • a player may overrule the opponent(s) TO THEIR OWN DISADVANTAGE


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Applying to Competitive/Tournament Play, Refereed or Not

1. LineCalls:

• may be appealed to the referee: if he/she did not see it CLEARLY, the ball is IN • may also be appealed to the opponent(s) if the referee also did not see it

• the verdict of the last person(s) to whom the appeal was made will stand

2. AppealsandOverrules:

• players can overrule a line judge's call to their own disadvantage
• players can also overrule a referee's call to their own disadvantage
• players can appeal ANYTHING done by the referee to the Head Referee or the

Tournament Director

3. QuestionsfortheReferee:

  • when a question is asked, the referee MUST stop play, answer the question, and

    recall the score (right now, the 10-second count continues even though the referee

    is answering a question)

  • a player may now also ask “Am I in the correct position?” and receive a “Yes, you

    are” or “No, you’re not” answer

    4. ErrorsofOmission:

    • referee can correct an error at the end of a game BEFORE THE NEXT SERVE!
    • referee can recall the players to the court to correct an error at the end of a match

    (e.g., an out-of-position player or the incorrect server/receiver) BEFORE THE SCORESHEET IS TURNED IN!

    5. Timeouts:

    • players may request one/all of their upcoming timeout(s) between games ahead of time

    • they don't have to be on the court to call them

    • if not used, they are rescinded without penalty

      6. ChangeofEnds:

      • is now a one-minute referee timeout • coaching is permitted

      7. ChangeofStartingServerBetweenGames:

      • no penalty, even if the referee or opposing team was NOT notified
      • only if the starting server/receiver is NOT wearing the proper identification will a

      fault be called

      8. ServingBEFOREtheRefereeCallstheScore:

      • ball is dead, therefore no fault/penalty
      • player will be advised to wait for the score to be called • ball must be served again


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9. Penalties:
A. Verbal Warning (for profanity):

• issued to ALL teams
• only one per game
• establishes the threshold for that referee
• does not HAVE to be given before a Technical Warning or a Technical Foul

B. Technical Warnings:

• a Technical Warning can be given for unsportsmanlike conduct due to paddle- throwing issues

C. Technical Fouls (recommended by the pro player committee):

• a point is DEDUCTED from the offending team
• if the offending team has 0 points, a point is ADDED to the score of the other team • puts the burden of correcting player positions on the offending team
• when teams change ends, if the serving team gets a Technical Foul and a point is

deducted, the teams do NOT go back to their original positions

  1. Game/Match Forfeit:

    • three strikes (a combination of Technical Warnings and Technical Fouls) = a Game Forfeit

    • score recorded as {GameWinningPoints}-0

    • in games to 15 or 21 points = an immediate Match Forfeit!

    • four strikes = a Match Forfeit

    • if a player cannot continue due to a medical issue, this is ruled a "Retirement" as

      opposed to a "Forfeit"

  2. Egregious Behavior Accountability (recommended by the pro player committee):

    • the sole domain of the Tournament Director • Tournament Ejection:

     can be done for injurious behavior anytime during the tournament

     player may stay at the venue but may not play in any more events • Venue Expulsion:

     player must leave the venue IMMEDIATELY!

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