Rule Submission TitleKeep Drop Serve as-is. Remove Provisional status
USAP Board Voting StatusApproved
USAP Rules Committee Voting StatusPass
IFP Voting StatusAverage: 8.0 Detail:7,8,9,7,7,9,9 Note: This was voting to accept the Drop Serve Committee recommendations
Existing Rule #4.8.A
Proposed Rule Change (edited)

USA Pickleball Rules Committee

Keep the original 2021 rule as-is. Remove Provisional from the rule.

IFP Rules Committee

Voted to pass the suggested changes from the Drop Serve committee with no edits.

Proposed Rule Change

NOTE: This is the recommendation from the Drop Serve Committee. It was approved by the IFP rules committee but rejected by USAP rules committee. The Proposed Rule Change (Edited) field shows that the existing 2021 rule is kept as-is but has the Provisional word removed.

Drop Serve Committee Recommendation:

4.A. The Serve.
4.A.1 The entire score must be called before the ball is served.

4.A.1.a. The ball may be struck either before it bounces on the playing surface (volley serve) or after it bounces on the playing surface (bounce serve).</mark?

4.A.1.b. Once the ball has been released, no additional force can be applied to the ball except the strike of the paddle to serve.

4.A.2. At the moment the ball is served:

4.A.2.a. At least one foot must be on the playing surface behind the baseline.

4.A.2.b. Neither of the server’s feet may touch the court on or inside the baseline.

4.A.2.c. Neither of the server’s feet may touch outside the imaginary extensions of the sideline or centerline.

4.A.2.d. (Wheelchair) Both rear wheels must be on the playing surface behind the baseline and may not touch the court on or inside the baseline or outside the imaginary extensions of the sideline or centerline

4.A.3. The server’s arm must be moving in an upward arc at the time the ball is struck and may be made with either a forehand or backhand motion. (See Figure 4-3)

4.A.4. The highest point of the paddle head must not be above the highest part of the wrist (where the wrist joint bends) when it strikes the ball. (See Figures 4-1 and 4-2)

Figure 4-1 (legal serve)
Figure 4-2 (illegal serve)
Figure 4-3 (legal serve)

4.A.5. Contact with the ball must not be made above the waist. (See Figures 4-1 and 4-3)

4.A.6. Placement. The server must serve to the correct service court (the court diagonally opposite the server). The serve may clear or touch the net and must clear the NVZ and the NVZ lines. The serve may land on any other service court line.

4.A.7. If the serve clears the net or hits the net and then touches the receiver or the receiver’s partner, it is a point for the serving team.

4.A.8. Provisional Drop Serve. ......(deleted)

4.M. Service Faults.

4.M.9. The server uses an illegal serve (Rules 4.A.3, 4.A.4, 4.A.5) when not performing the Provisional Drop Serve. (Rule 4.A.8) (deleted)

Original Rule Text

4.A (see rulebook)

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

Extracted from the official report of the Drop Serve Committee:


1. Retain a key feature of the Drop Serve by allowing the ball to be struck before or after it is bounced on the playing service

2. Apply the same contact (or serving motion) criteria of a) ball contact below the waist, b) paddle head below the wrist, and c) swinging in an upward motion, to the Drop Serve, making it common to the Traditional Serve

3. Remove all restriction on how the ball is released to start the Drop Serve. It can be tossed upward, pushed downward, or dropped from any natural height, making it common to the Traditional Serve

4. As soon as it is approved by the Rules Committee, publish an advance public announcement that a modified version of the Drop Serve will be implemented starting 2022

5. To distinguish the key difference between a serve struck before a bounce, and a serve struck after a bounce, change the nomenclature to “Volley Serve” and “Bounce Serve” respectively. These terms will be used for clarity in the remainder of this document.

Findings of the Bounce Serve

1. Overwhelming acceptance of the Bounce Serve by all levels of players and coaches. Usage of the Bounce Serve is still relatively low, but starting to pick up at the novice level, and beginning to migrate to higher levels, including the pro level.

2. Coaches responded with a high approval rating due to the fact that a substantial number of new players find it easier to execute a Bounce Serve than the Volley Serve.

3. Most players who are having difficulty with the Volley Serve find the Bounce Serve a solution to hit the ball into the target area.

4. Lower skill level players benefit from the Bounce Serve primarily because a bounce is allowed, which results in the inclusion of those players who cannot master the Volley Serve.

5. Reluctance to use the Bounce Serve on a regular basis because of the provisional rule should disappear with the adoption of the new rule in 2022.

6. It is widely recognized that the 3 serving motion criteria of the Volley Serve (Rules 4.A.3., 4.A.4. and 4.A.5) are subjective. Recent feedback from tournament referees express that the release criteria of a Bounce Serve (Rules 4.A.8.a., 4.A.8.b. and 4.A.8.c.) are also subjective, difficult to judge and difficult to enforce. Removing the release criteria results in uniform application of one set of rules to all serves.

7. When players are mixing both the Volley and the Bounce serves in a game, there are restrictions on how the ball is released for a Bounce Serve, but none for a Volley Serve. There are restrictions on how the ball is struck for a Volley Serve, but none for a Bounce Serve. In order to make the correct call, the way the ball is released and the way the ball is struck must be accurately determined as the ball is served. A comment from a certified referee: “I just don’t know what I should have been watching until after the fact”, indicating the need for one uniform set of rules to be applied to all serves.

Rationale for the Modification

1. Simplify the serving rules by having one common set of serving motion criteria and no restriction on how the ball is released for both the Volley Serve and the Bounce Serve.

2. Retain the primary benefit of the Bounce Serve of making it easier to get the serve in play for many of the beginners, novice players and other players who are having difficulty with the Volley Serve. Allow for the inclusion of some players who may leave the game because they cannot master the volley serve.

3. Eliminate the concern (debate) that some advanced players and professionals have with the rules of the provisional Bounce Serve, that over time, skilled players will take advantage of the absence of restrictions on the serving motion, develop serves that have more power and spin, making them harder to return, therefore giving the serving team a higher probability of winning a point, ultimately altering how the game is played at the higher skill levels.

4. Any future changes to the serving rules would uniformly apply to both the Volley Serve and the Bounce Serve, making it easier to teach, learn and enforce

Recommended Changes for the 2022 Rulebook

Rule Book Year2022
Rule Change ID20
Date CreatedMay 28, 2021
View Comments View Comments