SUGGESTED USA PICKLEBALL RULE CHANGES FOR 2025

Rule Submission Title6.C.7 "Out" Calls Clarification
Existing Rule #6.C.7, 6.C.8, 6.C.9
Proposed Rule Change

6.C.7

6.C.7. All “out” calls must be promptly signaled by voice and/or hand signal (as described in Rule 13.E.2).

6.C.7.a. If a player/team returns the ball, the “out” call shall be made before the opponent hits the ball or the ball becomes dead.

6.C.7.b. If a player/team does not return the ball, they may make an “out" call, appeal the call to the referee, or defer to their opponents to make the line call up until the next serve occurs.

6.C.8. In doubles play, if one player calls the ball “out” and the partner calls it “in”, then doubt exists and the team’s call will be “in”.  Any player may defer a line call to their opponent or appeal to the referee up until the next serve occurs. If the referee or opponent did not see the ball, the ball is considered “in”.

6.C.9.  “Out” line calls must be promptly signaled by voice and/or hand signal (as described in Rule 13.E.2).

The Players (from page 1 of the Rulebook)

  • Players should not question or comment on an opponent’s call. , although any player may appeal a rally-ending line call to the referee before the next serve occurs.
Original Rule Text

6.C.7.  All “out” calls must be made prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before the ball becomes dead.

6.C.8. In doubles play, if one player calls the ball “out” and the partner calls it “in”, then doubt exists and the team’s call will be “in”.  Any player may appeal a line call to the referee. If the referee did not see the ball, the ball is considered “in”.

6.C.9.  “Out” line calls must be promptly signaled by voice and/or hand signal (as described in Rule 13.E.2).

The Players

  • Players should not question or comment on an opponent’s call, although any player may appeal a rally-ending line call to the referee before the next serve occurs.
Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

These are somewhat minor, but important, changes to clear up player confusion. Therefore, these meet Rule Writing Priority #2 in the Rulebook Appendix.

These also put all “out” call guidance in the same rule set, by eliminating a separate Rule 6.C.9 and some, but not all the guidance in The Player section on page 1 of the Rulebook.

Rule 6.C.7 is an important rule. While the original rule text has been in place in various forms since at least 2016, its origination was ostensibly to prevent the ‘two chance option’ for balls that were returned.  The objective in existing 6.C.7 is to prevent a player from making a play on the ball, seeing the result of their shot, and then calling the ball hit to them ‘out’ if they didn’t like the outcome of their own shot.  They also cannot appeal (to the referee) that line call after the opponent hits the ball or the ball becomes dead. For that reason, Rule 6.C.7 serves an important purpose in the game.

Some players, however, have applied Rule 6.C.7 to all balls that land on their side of the net, even those balls that are not returned by the receiving team.

There is at least one place in the Rulebook where we find evidence that Rule 6.C.7 applies to only balls that are returned.

The most direct indication is on Page 1 of the Rulebook, under the heading of ‘The Players’, the fourth bullet down the list:

“Players should not question or comment on an opponent’s call, although any player may appeal a rally-ending line call to the referee before the next serve occurs.” 

Current Rule 6.C.9 is also an important rule.  It provides guidance on how one makes an “out” call, but the use of the word “promptly” is not particularly helpful, is not defined, and therefore leads one to question its relationship to Rule 6.C.7.:

“6.C.9  “Out” line calls must be promptly signaled by voice and/or hand signal (as described in Rule 13.E.2).”

These rule changes clear up the “out” call guidance for players in officiated and non-officiated play and place them in the same Rule set.  These also bring the appeal guidance in 'The Players' section on page 1 into Rule 6.C.8.

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies
  • A player hits a steeply angled cross-court dink shot.  The ball bounces ‘out’ and immediately hits the side fence (or bounces twice, etc.).  By rule, the ball is dead when it hits the permanent object (fence). The receiving team, in this scenario, does not return the ball. Per Rule 6.C.11, however, the receiving team can’t make an “out” line call until the ball bounces. Should the ball be considered 'in' because the receiving team didn’t make an “out” call before it hit the fence?  That is what current Rule 6.C.7 implies and how some players apply the rule. Recall, however, from page 1, under The Players, that the receiving team may appeal that same line call until the next serve occurs.  Herein lies the issue with the way 6.C.7 is currently constructed.

  • Similarly, an opponent hits a lob that flies past the receiving team, lands on the playing surface one foot from the back fence, and bounces up and hits the fence before the receiving team can call “out." Just like above, per Rule 6.C.11, they can’t make an “out” line call until the ball bounces, but in this case, just as in (1) above, they have virtually no reasonable chance to make that call.

  • Also similarly, a receiving player has one foot standing out of bounds, a ball hits outside the court lines and immediately bounces up and hits their leg. This situation also results in a dead ball.  It’s unreasonable for players to mentally register that the ball was “out” and signal it is “out” before the ball is dead.

Rule 6.C.7 appears to be in place to prevent the ‘two-chance option’, which is not the case in either scenario above. The suggested revisions above therefore provide the general principle for making “out” calls (old Rule 6.C.9), then two conditions for making “out” calls; one where the receiving team returns the ball (6.C.7.a) and one where they do not (6.C.7.b).

As a point of interest and completeness, the guidance on Page 1 of the Rulebook, under the heading of ‘The Players’, the fourth bullet down the list, should remain.  It still provides valuable sportsmanship insight for players even with the recommended relocation of the appeal guidance into Rule 6.C.8.

Rule Book Year2025
Rule Change ID1492
Date CreatedMarch 27, 2024
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