Rules Questions, Teaching and helping others

Rules question from the courts……

Often, players will ask rules questions of me.  Here’s a good one.  This question was posed as a result of circumstances that sometimes occur in recreational play due to the friendliness of a game.

“Is there a rule, or is it just player courtesy for the server to wait for the receiving team to be ready before serving the ball?” 

There’s are several rules that refer to this the IFP rulebook.

IFP Rule Book
Click for the IFP rulebook

Section 4 – Service Rules.

  • Rule 4.I. Readiness.  Serves shall not be made until the receiver is ready and the score has been called.  Serving before the score is called shall result in a fault, and loss of serve.  The referee shall call the score when he or she determines that the players should be in position to resume play. (Revised March 1, 2015).

Further down the page…..

  • Rule 4.I.1  Not ready signals.  The receiver must use one of the following to signal that he or she is not ready to receive the serve: 1) raising the paddle above his or her head, 2) raising the non paddle hand above his or her head, or 3) completely turning his or her back to the server.

However, be aware of this rule!

  • Rule 4.I.2    When calling the score in doubles, the referee does not have to wait for the receiver’s partner or the server’s partner to be ready.  It is the receiver’s responsibility to signal not ready for his or her partner.

These rules are written to be applicable to games with referees and without.  In a game with a referee, he/she would only look to the serve receiver for readiness, and would then call the score.  The server would then have 10 seconds to serve the ball.

The moral of the story is, if you are receiving the serve and your partner is not ready, indicate so by holding your paddle or hand up.  If you are serving, be sure to look at the receiver to be sure they are ready before serving the ball!

In recreational play without a referee, it is important that the server always look to the receiver and then call the score.  Calling the score in an indication of readiness.  Often, I see players excited about winning the last rally call out the score as they are walking back to the service line.  Then they serve before announcing the score again to indicate readiness.

If you teach beginners, make sure you stress how important it is to call the correct score and at the correct time!

The rules for this circumstance go on further, but I think that answers the question posed to me.  If you are still in question or would like to read more, click on the rule book image and read for yourself.

FOLLOW CRAZY PICKLEBALL LADY!  Get an email immediately each time I make a new post!  Provide your email address and click FOLLOW at the top of the right column.  Then, share Crazy Pickleball Lady with your pickleball friends by clicking on the Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn icons below.




4 thoughts on “Rules question from the courts……”

  1. I don’t fully understand 2020 Pickleball Rule 5.A.1. Rather than me elaborating on what parts I do understand, if you can, please explain this rule to me as verbosely as you’d like. Better, add an example(s) of how it works.

    Yes, I searched quickly online for explanations, but didn’t see any. I saw your website and I figured I’d send my question to you.

    If you are unable to help, it’s not a problem; I apologize for interrupting you and I wish you the best.



    1. Hi Dom! Sorry for the delay in my reply, but I’ve been insanely busy the past few days! All things completed now, so let me answer your question.
      First, here’s the rule you are struggling with:
      5.A.1. Any fair method shall be used to determine which
      player or team has first choice of end, serve, or
      receive, (i.e., a 1 or 2 written on the back of the score
      sheet). If the winner chooses to serve or receive first,
      the loser chooses the starting end. If the winner
      chooses the starting end, the loser chooses to serve
      or receive. The winner can defer first choice to the

      So, before beginning a match in a tournament, you determine which player/team serves will serve first. This is done in any number of ways. Some examples are writing two different things on the back of a piece of paper……most commonly a 1 or a 2, however I’ve had referees say “blue or green” or “Goofy or Mickey Mouse.” So lets say the ref has asked you that questions, and you give the correct answer. You win the opportunity to make the following decision:
      Do you want to serve first?
      Do you want to choose which side you will start the game on?
      Or Do you choose to defer the decision to your opponent.

      If you choose “serve”, then your opponent will receive, and he gets to choose side.

      If you choose to select “side”, then your opponent gets to choose to serve or receive.

      If you choose to defer, then you allow your opponent to choose whether they want to serve, receive, or to choose starting side. Then you get what they don’t choose. If they choose “serve” you will receive, and then get to choose which side you will start on.

      While it might not seem to be that big of a deal, often choosing side is important first because either of wind direction, or because perhaps in an indoor tournament there is a blank wall in one direction but layers of courts with people moving when you face the other.

      I hope this helps! If not, lets discuss further!


  2. Recreational play is about having fun and enjoyment with your fellow players, so it is up to everyone playing what will or will not be allowed. Any other time the rules are the rules. 🤗😎😘 The other thing to think about is, are you teaching someone – if so follow the rules, otherwise the person being taught could have difficulties in the future, which is not fair on them.🤔


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s