LIST OF SUGGESTED PICKLEBALL RULE CHANGES FOR PREVIOUS YEARS

Rule Change Process

Rule Submission TitleReferee authority to replace damaged ball.
USAP Board VoteFailure Confirmed
USAP Rules Committee VoteFailed
USAP Rules Committee Vote ReasonThe rules provide players the opportunity to address a damaged ball. It should remain in the player's hands.
Existing Rule #11.E
Proposed Rule Change

11.E. Broken or Cracked Ball. If any player suspects the ball is or becomes cracked after the serve, play must continue until the end of the rally. In officiated matches, players may appeal to the referee before the next serve occurs to determine if a ball is degraded, soft, broken or cracked. If, in the judgment of the referee, a broken or cracked ball impacted the outcome of a rally, the referee will call for a replay with a replacement ball. If both teams agree that the ball is degraded or soft, the ball will be replaced, but there is no replay of the prior rally. If in the opinion of the referee the ball is degraded, soft, or broken, the referee will remove the irregular ball and introduce a replacement ball. In non-officiated matches, if both teams agree, players may replace a degraded, soft, broken, or cracked ball before the next serve occurs. In only the case of a cracked ball, if the players agree the cracked ball impacted the prior rally, a replay occurs. If the players do not agree that a cracked ball impacted the outcome of the prior rally, the prior rally stands as played.

Original Rule Text

11.E. Broken or Cracked Ball. If any player suspects the ball is or becomes cracked after the serve, play must continue until the end of the rally. In officiated matches, players may appeal to the referee before the next serve occurs to determine if a ball is degraded, soft, broken or cracked. If, in the judgment of the referee, a broken or cracked ball impacted the outcome of a rally, the referee will call for a replay with a replacement ball. If both teams agree that the ball is degraded or soft, the ball will be replaced, but there is no replay of the prior rally. In non-officiated matches, if both teams agree, players may replace a degraded, soft, broken,
or cracked ball before the next serve occurs. In only the case of a cracked ball, if the players agree the cracked ball impacted the prior rally, a replay occurs. If the players do not agree that a cracked ball impacted the outcome of the prior rally, the prior rally stands as played.

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

One of the paramount duties of the referee is to assure level and fair play for both sides. The current rule on "damaged" game balls unfairly allows one team to force gameplay with a ball that is not structurally valid.  If Team A says the ball is soft, flattened or otherwise "damaged", Team B can insist that play continue with that same ball. Take this to the extreme; Team A says this ball has become a CUBE, Team B says, too bad, lets play with it.  And currently the referee has no authority to replace the ball in this situation, because it is not "broken or cracked".  Adding this sentence to the current rule simply allows the referee to use his/her judgment to examine the ball and if the ball is not structurally sound, replace the ball regardless of one teams' objection.

 

If in the opinion of the referee the ball is degraded, soft, or broken, the referee will remove the irregular ball and introduce a replacement ball.

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

Player holding ball announces that the ball is "damaged" in some way.  (Note, there is no change necessary for the case of the broken or cracked ball, and referee has full autonomy to replace said ball.)  Referee examines ball and determines ball to be irregular in some other way (flat edge, softened, etc).  Referee asks other side if they agree to replace ball.  Currently, that side can insist that the irregular ball stay in play.

With this addition to the rule, the referee above could replace a ball that is in the opinion of the referee damaged in some way other than cracked or broken.  This assures fair play for both sides.

 

Rule Book Year2024
Rule Change ID1175
Date CreatedMay 9, 2023
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