LIST OF SUGGESTED PICKLEBALL RULE CHANGES FOR PREVIOUS YEARS

Rule Change Process

Rule Submission TitleSimplifying the Volley Serving Rule
USAP Board VoteFailure Confirmed
USAP Rules Committee VoteFailed
USAP Rules Committee Vote ReasonThe fact that it is difficult to determine compliance on a close serve is not a good reason to eliminate these two requirements. Comparison to the drop serve is not not persuasive since, by default, the ball will always bounce well below the waist in a drop 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 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

4.A.7.c. Contact with the ball must not be made above the waist. (See Figures 4-1 and 4-3 above)

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

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

The drop serve rule which has simplified the serving rules by eliminating 4A7a,4A7b & 4A7c as conditions of the serve. From a practical standpoint the drop serve insures that the ball is contacted below the waist.

It is almost impossible for a referee with the naked eye at the split second of contact to determine the upward movement of the arm ( 1% is legal) and similarly the highest point of the paddle above the wrist. Illegal serves are almost never called but but the perception that they are happening frequently especially at the pro level is not good optics for the sport. Eliminating these two requirements that are almost never called and do not exist with the drop serve both adds consistency and simplification to the serving rule.

The requirement to serve below the waist remains for the volley serve but the waist needs to be more clearly defined. In the case of a drop serve there is the practical fact that the ball will only bounce so high. The ball approval specs have a defined height factor. Using this information a distance from the floor could be defined as the point that a ball must be struck below. Or the waist could be redefined as the navel.

However the point that the ball must be contacted below, for tournament play I am suggesting that all players will have a serving line tape adhered to their shirt or outfit. Serves must be contacted below this line. My reason for suggesting this tape/Line is I keep hearing that it is very difficult  for a referee ( in rec play there is no recourse for calling an illegal serve above the waist) to determine a persons waist for calling an illegal serve.

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

This change should apply to all play both tournament and rec. In my six years of playing pickleball I have seen very little advantage  that anyone has gained by not following the upward movement of the arm or the paddle head higher than the wrist. Now that both of those thing are perfectly acceptable with a drop serve it no longer makes sense to continue to have them as part of the requirements for a volley serve. The only time I have found that people gain an advantage when serving is when they hit a serve above the waist and for this reason I feel this should be enforced both at a tournament level and rec play.

Rule Book Year2024
Rule Change ID1057
Date CreatedApril 22, 2023
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