Rule Submission TitlePartner Positions
USAP Board Voting StatusFailed
USAP Rules Committee Voting StatusFailed. This is not perceived to be a problem that needs a rule change to solve. Referees or players would not immediately call the score in this situation because the player is not seen to be ready.
Existing Rule #4.B.7
Proposed Rule Change

Partner Positions. In doubles, with the exception of the server (see 4.A.4) there is no restriction on the
position of any player, as long as all players are on their respective team's side of the net ON THE PLAYING SURFACE. They can be positioned on or off the court. The correct server must serve from the correct service court, and the
correct receiver must receive the serve.

Original Rule Text

Partner Positions. In doubles, with the exception of the server (see 4.A.4) there is no restriction on the
position of any player, as long as all players are on their respective team's side of the net. They can be
positioned on or off the court. The correct server must serve from the correct service court, and the
correct receiver must receive the serve.

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

Rules are made do codify and clarify.  They should define how the game should be played, and they should close any loopholes that exist that would allow a player to flaunt the rules and the spirit of the game.  4 simple words would disallow someone from flaunting a current rule.  Also, without the addition of "On the playing surface" a ref is unable to uphold their duty of checking a paddle before a rally if the player and paddle have left their view. This is specifically mentioned in the Ref's Handbook for checking the paddles after a time out, but the spirit of that rule should apply to any time the paddle leaves the ref's view.

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

A player lines up out of view of the referee, perhaps behind a backboard, tarp, or bleachers.  The score is called, and the player enters the court after the serve has been initiated and the rally started (could be the server's partner, or the receiver's partner, most likely).  They re-enter the playing area and resume the rally in progress.  However, the ref has not checked that player's paddle. Easy enough, the ref can just check the paddle after the rally is over.  And when the same thing happens on every rally?  Sure, it's very unlikely, but any disgruntled player  or jokester could take advantage of this rule with how the rules are written now.  The object of the rules is to make sure that such things never happen. And all sports have very specific rules to where players can and cannot line up.  Why does pickleball have this glaring omission?

There are so many different ref interpretations of this rule, and many refs don't think it's a problem.  There are certain refs that have said they would just make up their own rules and penalize a player for lining up outside their view, even though it is completely legal as the rule is now written.  There are certain refs that have said they would just call the player who lines up off the playing surface as not ready and fault them, even if they are ready (and how would the ref know if he can't see the player?), and they aren't even the player receiving the serve. How can a ref justifiably call a fault that doesn't exist.  Even if the correct receiver is not in place, the ref would just call the score, and the server would serve into an open court.  So how could a ref call a fault for someone lining up off the playing surface when it's allowed by the rules?  There are refs who've said that this rule is unfair because he's allowed people to be off the playing surface when they've had to go to the bathroom and they aren't back in time. Well, what if the bathroom is on the opposite side of the net? This would be a violation, since it would then be assumed that the plane of the net runs indefinitely through space for the entirety of what is not the playing surface.  This situation should be dealt with in any number of different manners, rather than just saying "on the playing surface" would make it difficult for players to go to the bathroom.  HUH?!

Other refs have said that rule books can't account for every possibility because then the rule book would be the size of an encyclopedia.  True, but we're not talking about infinite possibilities of what might cause a hinder.   Rules must close any loopholes that exist that would allow any player to take advantage of them.  Every sport has rules on where player can line up and they aren't monstrosities.  Volleyball has VERY specific rules as to where not only players can line up, but also teammates on the bench, officials, and coaches.  Golf has VERY specific rules as to where player can play their balls and where they must line up, etc. Neither of these rule books are monstrosities. and remember, it's 4 SIMPLE WORDS.  I am dumbfounded as to why there is so much resistance to 4 SIMPLE WORDS that would close a glaring loophole in the current rules.

Rule Book Year2023
Rule Change ID569
Date CreatedJune 30, 2022
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