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.
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.
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