SUGGESTED USA PICKLEBALL RULE CHANGES FOR 2025

Rule change submissions will close on May 15th, 2024, at 11:59 PM. Comments on the existing rule change submissions will remain open until May 31st, 2024, at 11:59 PM.

Rule Submission TitleThe Volley Serve
Existing Rule #4.A.7.
Proposed Rule Change

4.A.7. The Volley Serve. The volley serve is made by striking the ball without bouncing the ball off the playing surface and can be made with either a forehand or backhand motion. A proper volley serve includes the following elements:

4.A.7.a. The ball must be dropped from the hand with the palm facing downwards at a starting height no higher than the waist.

4.A.7.b. Contact with the ball must not be made above the waist.

4.A.7.c. The ball will be re-served if the referee or receiver determines that the ball was struck above the waist by the server.</u?

4.A.7.a. The server’s arm must be moving in an upward arc at the time the ball is struck with the paddle. (See Figure 4-3.)
4.A.7.b. The highest point of the paddle head must not be above the highest part of the wrist (where the wrist joint bends) when the paddle strikes the ball. (See Figures 4-1 and 4-2)

Original Rule Text

4.A.7. The Volley Serve. The volley serve is made by striking the ball without bouncing the ball off the playing surface and can be made with either a forehand or backhand motion. A proper volley serve includes the following elements:
4.A.7.a. The server’s arm must be moving in an upward arc at the time the ball is struck with the paddle. (See Figure 4-3.)
4.A.7.b. The highest point of the paddle head must not be above the highest part of the wrist (where the wrist joint bends) when the paddle strikes the ball. (See Figures 4-1 and 4-2)

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

Consider what is written in the Priorities section of the rulebook starting on page 70:

"Priorities
The following three priorities should be considered “tests” for any
suggested rule change. Any suggested rule change should satisfy
at least one of these three priorities, listed in order of importance:
1. The first priority is preserving the integrity of the sport, one
that incorporates the elements of fun, cooperation,
courtesy, and competition. This priority pays homage to
those who developed the sport in 1965 and those who
have written and approved rule changes over the years.
2. The second priority is what is collectively best for the
players. This priority examines rule changes for improving
the player experience. It “tests” suggested rule changes
from the standpoint of minimizing player disagreements,
making it easier to learn the sport, teach the sport, and
play the sport, while also allowing for moderate innovation
as player skills and equipment develop and evolve.
3. The third priority is what’s best for officiating. It “tests” rule
changes to make it less likely conflicts will occur between
players as well as between players and officials."

Eliminating all of the mechanical requirements of the volley serve so that it is almost identical to the drop serve will make the game significantly easier to teach, learn, and play. It also eliminates the need for referees to scrutinize the serving motion of a player to determine the paddle head position in relation to the wrist in the split second that it takes to strike the ball. All they would need to observe is whether or not the ball is dropped from waist level and below. It is very rare for referees to call service motion violations in real time. It is only when the serve is viewed in slow motion or stop motion that definitive violations are spotted.

In unofficiated play, a player has no recourse if the server violates any rules of the serve, other than the ball toss not being visible. Why have a rule in place if no one can enforce it and there are no penalties for its violation? The server can literally serve overhead like in tennis and the receiver can do nothing about it, according to the rules.

Now consider paragraph 7 under Guiding Principles on page 72:

"7. Allow for an appropriate degree of player innovation. Such
innovation should maintain a healthy balance between
historical rules that have been instrumental to the sport’s
growth and appeal."

Eliminating the motion and paddle position restrictions from the volley serve will allow players to start serving with backspin, slices, and curves, which are really available to only players using the drop serve. This innovation will allow it to more closely mirror the variety of serves used in tennis and table tennis. While still disallowing the chainsaw type serves or using pre-spin on the ball to make the ball more unpredictable when it bounces, allowing the player to create spin with the paddle only will make for more variety and skill in reading the spin of the serve from the motion of the paddle. Why not give players more room to be creative?

In any case, 4.A.6. still remains in force, where the ball drop must be visible to the receiver and referee.

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

All players from beginners in rec play to amateurs and professionals in tournament play would be able to do the volley serve in the same fashion as the drop serve without any paddle motion or position restrictions.

Rule Book Year2025
Rule Change ID1855
Date CreatedMay 15, 2024
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