Rule Submission Title3rd and 4th shot Rule
USAP Board Voting StatusFailed
USAP Rules Committee Voting StatusFailed: 1) Unenforceable 2) Impractical to expect all players to have complete control over where their shot goes. 3) There are many trainers who teach effective, safe ways to respond to lobs
Existing Rule #None
Proposed Rule Change

Players that lob the ball over the heads of the opposing players on the 3rd and 4th shot immediately lose the rally .

Original Rule Text


Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

Just as there are rules for the 1st and 2nd shot , adding the proposed rule for the 3rd and 4th shot will diminish serious injuries . Injuries from lobbing can occur when players who are aggressively moving towards the net have to suddenly stop and back pedal precariously while attempting to engage a lobbed ball . Lobbing on the ensuing shots is safer because the players are less likely to be moving forward aggressively at that time and back pedaling can be done more safely .
The other benefit from the rule is it will force also "lobsters" to develop their net game rather than rely on constantly lobbing thereby improving the quality of the game for all the players .

Related Email conversation between the Director of Officiating and the submitter:

Thank you for being a USA Pickleball member.

We can appreciate your sense of safety inherent in your proposal. If I may, however, I'd like to ask some clarifying questions regarding your suggestion. I'm not trying to be an obstructionist here, but after doing this for 3 years, I know the kinds of questions the Rules Committee will ask. Your proposal, if I may say so, introduces more questions than you answer in your proposal. So, please take this as it is intended; to help your proposal get looked at seriously.

While we all agree that backpedaling is something to be avoided, why wouldn't a better approach to this be to just avoid back peddling? I don't know of any pickleball instructor that teaches how to backpedal. In fact, they teach just the opposite; turn sideways, make a short loop, and run with your back to the net, find the ball, let it bounce, and then hit it.

But, let's forget that idea for a moment. How would you define a lob? You wrote, "Players that lob the ball over the heads of the opposing players on the 3rd or 4th shot immediately lose the rally." How far over the head on the 3rd or 4th shot would result in a fault? When we look at suggested rules, we have to see how easy they would be to enforce. I need some help in understanding how you see this rule suggestion being enforceable.

For example, I can hit a ball that is "over the head" - a lob - of one partner by, say, two inches. That is an easy put away shot for most people, but the way you have your rule worded, that would be a rally ending 'lob'. I don't think that is what you meant, but that is how it reads. Furthermore, what if I hit a lob that is over one partner's head - someone who is 5'8", but their partner is 6'6" and the ball isn't over their head? It's not clear what happens in that case. If I hit the ball over the 5'8" person's head, that is the person most likely to backpedal. But, why would that be a fault if their partner can track down that lob without backpedaling?

Lastly, for some reason, you wrote this applies to the 3rd or 4th shot. What happens if the lob occurs on the 5th shot? Or 8th? Why just the 3rd or 4th?

I hope my questions are seen as helpful. I worry that without addressing these in your write up that this idea will not have much of a chance.


Thank you for the considered reply to my proposed rule change of disallowing lobs on the 3rd and 4th shots .

In the context of this rule I would define a lob as a lofted shot above the out stretched hand and paddle of the grounded player whom the ball predominantly travels above , as shown in the following illustration.

The fact of the matter is that most players do not lob on the 3rd and 4th shot as this is typically when both teams are attempting to establish themselves at the NVL . This rule would force "lobster" players to develop their skills and would be doing them and everyone else a big favour.

I am suggesting this rule apply only on the 3rd and 4th shots when players are typically not established and lobs often lead to dangerous back pedallling . Lobs on the ensuing shots when the players are typically established can often be safely tracked down by turning sideways, making a short loop, and running with your back to the net, finding the ball, letting it bounce, and then hitting it back . Two completely different scenarios , one dangerous , one safe .

I hope this sufficiently clarifies the rationale for the rule change . Please run with this if you feel the rule change has merit and warrants a trial project perhaps .

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

On the USAPA website , it says to avoid back pedaling . . This proposed rule change will remove the most dangerous type of back pedaling .

There are numerous instances of players , particularly older players, hurting themselves backing up. .

"It turns out that most falls in pickleball happen when you run backward to try and return a lob.",too%20quickly%20and%20risk%20falling.

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Rule Book Year2023
Rule Change ID372
Date CreatedMay 11, 2022
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