SUGGESTED USA PICKLEBALL RULE CHANGES FOR 2025

Rule Submission TitleServer providing an unobstructed view of ball release
Existing Rule #4.A.6
Proposed Rule Change

4.A.6. In officiated matches, the server'sthe server must provide an unobstructed view of the release of the ball to the referee and receiver. In matches without a referee, the server'sthe server must provide an unobstructed view of the release of the ball to the receiver. The ball will be re-served if the view of the release of the ball from the server to the referee or receiver is obstructed.

Original Rule Text

4.A.6. In officiated matches, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. There is no fault if the release is not visible to the referee or receiver.

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

Under the original wording, if the receiver happens to be looking at something other than the ball when it is released, he can claim that he didn't see the release of the ball and request a re-serve. A dishonest player can also claim he didn't see the ball release if it's a serve that he can't return. These are things that the server has no control of and he shouldn't be penalized when making an unreturnable serve (ace), if he's made every effort to make the ball release visible to the referee and/or receiver. The new wording makes the server responsible only for providing an unobstructed view of the ball release. He's no longer responsible if the receiver gets distracted or sneezes at the wrong time, or any nefarious claims by a dishonest receiver.

The only things that can conceivably obstruct the view of the ball release is the server's body or paddle, or the server's partner. So it shouldn't take a great amount of effort by the server to provide an unobstructed view of the ball release. The referee and server can also easily determine if there was a clear line of sight between the ball and the receiver.

This will require a change to the diagram on page 21 of the 2024 Rulebook, especially whether or not the receiver should determine if the view of the release is obstructed when the server has made every effort to provide an unobstructed view of the ball release.

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

Scenario 1: Referee determines all players are ready and calls the score. Server serves the ball, making sure the referee and receiver have an unobstructed view of the ball release. The receiver happens to notice a cute girl in the crowd and isn't watching the server when the ball is released. He catches the ball and tells the referee that he didn't see the release of the ball. Referee denies his claim because the server provided an unobstructed view of the ball release and the receiver should have been reasonably ready. The point is awarded to the server.

Scenario 2: Referee determines all players are ready and calls the score. Server serves the ball, making sure the referee and receiver have an unobstructed view of the ball release. The receiver sneezes at the same time the ball is released and subsequently has his eyes closed when the ball is released. He misses the ball, resulting in an ace, but tells the referee that he didn't see the release of the ball. Referee denies his claim because the server provided an unobstructed view of the ball release. The point is awarded to the server. (Not sure if an ill-timed sneeze is covered elsewhere under hinder or distraction.)

Scenario 3: Unofficiated play. Not sure how enforcement or denial would be done if a receiver claims his view is obstructed when the server clearly sees there are no obstructions between the ball and the receiver during the ball release.

Rule Book Year2025
Rule Change ID1487
Date CreatedMarch 26, 2024
Add Comment Add Comment
View Comments View Comments