Rule Submission TitleReplay Instead of Fault for Service Motion Violation
USAP Board Voting StatusPassed
USAP Rules Committee Voting StatusPassed:
Existing Rule #4.A.5; 4.A.6
Proposed Rule Change (edited)

4.A.5. The Volley Serve. A proper volley serve includes the following elements:

4.A.5.a. 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.5.b. 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 Fig 4-1 & 4-2)

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

4.A.5.d. The serve must be made without bouncing the ball off the court and hitting it.

4.A.5.e The serve shall be made with only one hand releasing the ball. While some natural rotation of the ball is expected during any release of the ball from the hand, the server shall not impart manipulation or spin on the ball with the hand immediately prior to the serve. Exception: A player who has the use of only one hand may use their hand or paddle to release the ball to perform the serve.

4.A.5.f In officiated matches, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and the receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver.

4.A.6 Replay or Fault In officiated matches, the referee may call for a replay if the referee is not certain that one or more of the requirements of Rules 4.A.5.a through 4.A.5.f are met. The replay must be called before the return of serve. The referee shall call a fault if they are certain that one or more of the requirements of Rules 4.A.5.a through 4.A.5.f are not met. In non-officiated matches, if the receiver determines that manipulation or spin has been imparted prior to the serve, or the release of the ball is not visible, the receiver may call for a replay before the return of serve.

4.A.7 The Drop Serve A proper drop serve includes the following elements:

4.A.7.a. Servers must release the ball from one of the server’s hands or drop it off the server's paddle face from any natural (unaided) height and hit the ball after the ball bounces. There is no restriction how many times the ball can bounce nor where the ball can bounce on the playing surface.

4.A.7.b. The ball shall not be propelled (thrown) downward or tossed or hit upward with the paddle.

4.A.7.c. The serve shall be made with only one hand releasing the ball. While some natural rotation of the ball is expected during any release of the ball from the hand, the server shall not impart manipulation or spin on the ball with the hand immediately prior to the serve. Exception: A player who has the use of only one hand may use their hand or paddle to release the ball to perform the serve.

4.A.7.d. The server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and the receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver.

4.A.7.e. The ball may be struck with either a forehand or backhand motion without any other restriction, i.e., the location restrictions of the ball and paddle in Rules 4.A.5.a, 4.A.5.b and 4.A.5.c do not apply.

4.A.8 Replay or Fault In officiated matches, the referee may call for a replay if the referee is not certain that one or more of the requirements of Rules 4.A.7.a through 4.A.7.d are met. The replay will be called before the return of serve. The referee shall call a fault if they are certain that one or more of the requirements of Rules 4.A.7.a through 4.A.7.c are not met. In non-officiated matches, if the receiver determines that manipulation or spin has been imparted prior to the serve, or the release of the ball is not visible, the receiver may call for a replay before the return of serve.

Proposed Rule Change

4.A.5. The Volley Serve.

4.A.5.a. The server shall use only one hand to release the ball to perform the serve. Exception: A player who has the use of only one hand may use their hand or paddle to release the ball to perform the serve.

4.A.5.b. If the ball is visibly spun by the server during the release, the part(s) of the hand contacting the ball must be bare.

4.A.5.c The server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and the receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. A replay shall be called before the return of serve if the release of the ball is not visible or if the referee (or receiver in non-officiated matches) cannot discern whether an item on the hand contacted a visibly spun ball.

4.A.5.a. 4.A.5.d The server’s arm must be moving in an upward arc … (no change)

4.A.5.b. 4.A.5.e The highest point of the paddle head must not be above the highest part of the wrist … (no change)

4.A.5.c. 4.A.5.f Contact with the ball must not be made above the waist ... (no change)

4.A.5.d. 4.A.5.g The serve must be made without bouncing the ball … (no change)

4.A.5.h  Replay: Violation of Rules 4.A.5.a through 4.A.5.g shall result in a replay. All replays shall be called by the referee, except that the receiver may also call for a replay if the receiver cannot discern that an item on the hand contacted a visibly spun ball in a non-officiated match (Rule 4.A.5.b) or if the release of the ball is not visible to the receiver (Rule 4.A.5.c). The replay must be called before the return of serve.

 

4.A.6. The Drop Serve.

4.A.6.a. Servers must release the ball from one of the server’s hands or dropped off the server's paddle face from any natural (unaided) height and hit the ball after the ball bounces. There is no restriction how many times the ball can bounce nor where the ball can bounce on the playing surface. (no change)

4.A.6.b The server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and the receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. A replay shall be called before the return of serve if the release of the ball is not visible. The rules for feet placement (4.A.4) still apply.

4.A.6.c 4.A.6.b. The ball shall not be propelled (thrown) … (no change)

4.A.6.d 4.A.6.c. If the drop serve is used, the ball may be struck with either a forehand or backhand motion … (no change)

4.A.6.e Replay: Violation of Rules 4.A.6.a through 4.A.6.c shall result in a replay. All replays shall be called by the referee, except that the receiver may also call for a replay if the release of the ball is not visible to the receiver (Rule 4.A.6.b). The replay must be called before the return of serve.

4.L Service Foot Faults. (No change. These remain as faults.)

4.M.9. The server uses an illegal serve (Rules 4.A.5.a, 4.A.5.b, 4.A.5.c) when performing the Volley Serve. (Rules 4.A – 4.A.5.d) (Deleted.)

Original Rule Text

See below. The existing and proposed text is shown in legislative (i.e., strikeout/underline) format. Underlined text or section numbers are added. Liined through text is deleted or relocated).

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

 

  1. A replay is an adequate and more reasonable consequence for a violation of the service motion and ball release rules.
  2. Many referees are reluctant to call service faults on serves that are close but actually illegal because of the harshness of the penalty. While referees will still be expected to be certain that a service rule has been violated, this change may result in more questionable serves being called. These calls will be far less controversial and confrontational when the consequence is a replay instead of a fault. Eventually, players whose serves are borderline, and therefore likely illegal at times, will eventually modify their technique to be more clearly legal. That, in the long run, will be good for the game.
  3. This change also clarifies that the receiver is only allowed to call for a replay in two situations (release is not visible and when unable to discern if an item on the hand contacted a spun ball). In all other cases, only a referee can call for a replay. This is consistent with the current nature of the game where receivers who suspect other service actions are illegal can summon the Head Referee or Tournament Director and request that serves be observed for legality.
  4. Players and referees may have to be watchful for players who attempt to “game the system” by calling for repeated, inappropriate replays as a tactic to disrupt their opponent. The referee has the ability to assess verbal or technical warnings to address this type of inappropriate behavior when warranted.
  5. In proposed 4.A.6.b, the last sentence regarding rules for foot placement is unnecessary. Rule 4.A.4 applies regardless.
  6. Note that Rule 4.L is not changed by this proposal. Service foot faults will remain as faults and are not proposed to be replays.
  7. This proposal also editorially breaks up current 4.A.5 and 4.A.6.a into multiple subsections for clarity.
Rule Book Year2023
Rule Change ID334
Date CreatedApril 21, 2022
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