Rule Submission TitleDrop Serve Clarification
USAP Board VotePassed
USAP Rules Committee VotePassed with modification
USAP Rules Committee Vote ReasonFor the reasons indicated in the proposal. Modify the opening phrase by deleting 'from the hand or paddle'. It is not necessary to spell out from where the ball is released. Players without the use of their non-paddle hand do not always release the ball from the paddle.
Existing Rule #4.A.8.b
Proposed Rule Change (edited)

4.A.8.b When releasing the ball, the ball shall not be propelled in any direction (thrown) downward or tossed or hit upward with the paddle or in any manner prior to striking the ball to make the serve.

Proposed Rule Change

4.A.8.b When releasing the ball from the hand or the paddle, the ball shall not be propelled in any direction (thrown) downward or tossed or hit upward with the paddle or in any manner prior to striking the ball to make the serve.

Original Rule Text

4.A.8.b The ball shall not be propelled (thrown) downward or tossed or hit upward with the paddle.

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

There are two reasons for the change.

  1. To clarify the intent of the requirement. The compound sentence structure with two “or”s leaves unclear what the phrase “with the paddle” applies to. Grammatically, it could be incorrectly claimed to mean that “with the paddle” applies to both “tossing or hitting upward” (i.e., you cannot use the paddle to toss or hit the ball upward). While that is true, it would mean that there is no restriction on tossing the ball upward with the hand. The true intent of the rule has three parts: a) do not propel (throw) the ball downward with the hand, b) do not toss the ball upward from the hand, and c) do not use the paddle to hit the ball upward or toss the ball upward. The proposed language applies the restrictions to both releases (hand and paddle). It will prohibit propelling the ball upward from either release, and will prohibit propelling the ball downward from either release. In reality, it is not possible to propel the ball downward when simply dropping it off the paddle face but it is not necessary to complicate the language by trying to make that distinction. NOTE: Some may try to claim that the proposed language prohibits dropping it from the paddle face because dropping it “puts the ball in motion” which means it was propelled. That claim would be factually incorrect. Gravity, not the paddle, causes the ball to accelerate downward.
  2. To close a perceived loophole in the rule. Clever minds out there are constantly probing to find loopholes in the rules. It has been suggested that because the three paddle motion rules do not apply to the drop serve, the current rule would allow the ball to be legally dropped and, after it bounces, kicking the ball upward high enough to execute an overhead smash serve. While that could be ruled a fault under Rule 5.A.4, that rule is intended to prohibit spinning the ball when released. The proposed language here, “in any manner prior to striking the ball to make the serve,” will also cover any and all actions that propel the ball after the release.
Rule Book Year2024
Rule Change ID970
Date CreatedMarch 20, 2023
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