Rule Submission TitleServing Sequence in Pickleball
USAP Board Vote ReasonFailed
USAP Rules Committee Vote ReasonFailed. There are already expectations the server has to wait for the receiver to be ready and call the score so that they can hear. Also, that players will accommodate hearing impaired players. It is not appropriate to require this for all play.
Existing Rule #Serving Section 4A and 4C
Proposed Rule Change

1. Hold the ball overhead before serving.
2. Call out the score loudly, slowly, and clearly
3. Announce the score twice.


Original Rule Text

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

and 4.C

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

There are many coordination issues regarding the timing of the serve. It’s reassuring to discover that there are other players that are aware of this, and attempting to addressing these issues.
When a player serves the ball it’s important that everybody recognizes that the service is coming. One very simple way of ensuring this is to include a visual cue. Holding the ball overhead visually signals that the ball is going to be served shortly. Get ready. The second signal, which is calling out the score, is auditory. Two signals as opposed to one. Using our most developed and utilized senses-sight and hearing.
Calling out the score also presents a number of issues. Some people don’t project their voice very well, some people whisper, sometimes a jet flies overhead, or a chopped Harley goes by, or the public works crew is nearby trimming trees with chainsaws. In addition, some players speak to quickly, rendering the score indiscernible. For numerous reasons some people just aren’t very good at getting the score across. The receiver would have the same problems if they were to call out the score. If the server does not speak loudly, use good diction (enunciate their words)) and speak deliberately (slowly, as opposed to abruptly) the remaining players will not get the score. The solution is threefold, yet fairly simple.

1. Hold the ball up overhead (to visually indicate that the serve is coming)

2. Call out the score a) LOUDLY, b) using GOOD DICTION (which means to enunciate), and c) DELIBERATELY (meaning slowly, as opposed to quickly or abruptly)

There is still a third issue when someone calls out the score. It is imperative that there be a slight PAUSE between the time the score is announced and the time that a person actually makes contact with the ball. Why? Because it is important that everyone (not just the receiver) has the TIME to hear the score, the TIME to comprehend what was said, the TIME to process that information, the TIME to utilize the score to formulate a final strategy, and also allow the TIME it takes to ensure that everyone heard the score, has the opportunity to challenge the score, and ask any relevant questions. In other words, it takes TIME to process this information and ready one’s self for the serve. Not much time. Just a short, yet sufficient pause (exactly like one does in a normal conversation). And of course, it is preferable and more appropriate to do these things before the ball is put into play, as opposed to after. A slight pause also eliminates the common problem of calling out the score while serving simultaneously.

3. Call out the score TWICE.

This naturally provides the pause which is critical and necessary before serving the ball. It doesn’t take long, but is time well spent. Just as in baseball, this serves (pun intended) to introduce a “quick pitch” rule into the game of pickleball. Calling out the score twice will eliminate quick pitches, thereby rendering discipline or consequences (balks) a mute point. There won’t be any.
I am hearing that there’s some discussion about having the receiver call out the score or lift their paddle to indicate that they got the score. I believe there are a number of reasons why that would be ineffective. We get the score most of the time, so it doesn’t seem logical to raise our paddles 98 times to indicate that we have successfully received the score when 2 times should be sufficient to demonstrate that we didn’t. If the server does not hear back from anyone everything is good to go. It’s understood. Play Ball!!!
Consider the alternative. Raising a paddle every point, every game, for the rest of your life would not only be unnecessary, but cumbersome, laborious, and extremely time consuming. Much longer than simply calling out the score twice. It would also be irritating and frustrating. This would unwittingly serve to become a “slow-up rule,” significantly slowing down the game (as opposed to a speed-up rule). Players will find such a rule disagreeable and it would quickly fall into disfavor.

If this all sounds too complicated then let’s just simplify things.

1. Hold the ball overhead before serving.
2. Call out the score loudly, slowly, and clearly
3. Announce the score twice.

The inclusion of these three simple rules will standardize the process of serving and promote the smooth transition and enjoyment of the game of pickleball.

Scenarios In Which the Rules Applies

Stated above

Rule Book Year2023
Rule Change ID320
Date CreatedApril 19, 2022
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