|Rule Submission Title||Make the drop serve the only valid serve type.|
|Existing Rule #||4.A.7|
|Proposed Rule Change|
Remove 4.A.7, making the volley serve illegal and the drop serve the only option for a legal serve. In addition, add the following language (or something similar) to 4.A.8b. (addition in bold)
4.A.8.b. The ball shall not be propelled (thrown) downward or tossed or hit upward with the paddle or any part of the server's body
|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.c. Contact with the ball must not be made above the waist. (See Figures 4-1 and 4-3 above)
|Reasoning Behind Suggested Change|
As pickleball continues to evolve, players at every level, but especially at the highest levels of play, continue to look for ways they can take advantage and push the limits of the existing rulebook to gain an edge over their opponents. One of the more commonly seen instances of this is the volley serve, as players get closer and closer to the line of what is legal and illegal according to the three elements of the volley serve (i.e. upward motion, paddle head height, ball contact point). Whether or not these requirements are being violated can be extremely difficult to discern using still images or slow motion replays, much less in real time by an opponent or referee.
Because of this, players have been serving higher and higher, and moving closer and closer to a forehand motion where the arm moves in a flatter plane instead of an upward arc. The 2023 edition of the referee handbook acknowledges how difficult it is to make this call live, adding a provision for a referee to call for a re-serve if a service motion is questionable, rather than having to decide whether or not to call on a fault on a potentially illegal service motion. For players, it is hard to know which side of questionable they are on, and for a player trying to gain every advantage, they have no reason not to hit a borderline serve if the consequence is a re-serve. It's not difficult to see the potential implications of this including:
The history of pickleball and recent rule changes have set a precedent that the governing body does not want the serve to be an overly offensive shot. Removing the volley serve from the rulebook entirely supports this by taking away an avenue players currently have to hit serves more aggressively than they should, as well as one of the most difficult and subjective calls that referees currently have to make.
Drop serves are a legitimate and suitable alternative, with well-defined and easily observed restrictions. The additional comment in this proposed rule change closes a potential loophole wherein a player could kick or otherwise propel the ball upwards after the initial drop, dramatically raising the contact point of their "drop" serve.
|Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies|
|Rule Book Year||2024|
|Rule Change ID||872|
|Date Created||March 1, 2023|
|View Comments||View Comments|