General, My Pickleball Thoughts, Rules Questions, Teaching and helping others, Uncategorized

Does “friendly play” mean bending the rules?

We all know that when we play in a tournament, playing by the rules is required.  But, in recreational or “friendly play” is it necessary to stick to every, single rule?

Boy, that’s a question that could spark quite a debate, and actually recently did on another pickleball blog.  It also brings up a series of questions…..such as:

  • What constitutes a “friendly” game?
  • Which rules should be allowed to be overlooked?
  • Which rules should not be allowed to be overlooked?
  • What circumstances would  allow a rule to be broken…in other words, why would we play the game without following the rules?
  • Who are we playing with/against that might necessitate easing of the rules?

For now, I’d like to hear from you.  What are your thoughts?

Leave a Reply below to share your thoughts with other readers!

Scroll to the bottom (underneath any ads) to see reader comments.

I’ll share my thoughts in another post!

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.




11 thoughts on “Does “friendly play” mean bending the rules?”

  1. In our indoor grade school gym, we have close contact between 2 nets. The ideal situation is that no balls cross courts, but that is not manageable. I feel that during play, folks sitting in chairs waiting to rotate in should not make calls, comment on calls, or attempt to correct calls made by either team on either court. Protocol definitions seems to cover how 4 active players should deal with any close calls.

    During intense net rally, if a ball from the adjacent court enters the play area – my thinking is that the active players on that court have the only say in calling “BALL” or something like that – to stop play, pick up the loose ball and then replay that point. I do not favor someone from the bench or the adjacent court making calls on another’s court.

    Is there a rule or written protocol that covers these 2 typical events – for friendly or tournament play?


    1. Hi Lewie! Indoor play is often less desirable (due to limited space) but aren’t we all thankful for any space to set up a court!

      To answer your questions, first regarding others who are sitting on the sidelines making calls, in tournament play this is not allowed. Players are to make their own calls. In recreational play the same should be true, but good luck with that! I would be calling the kettle black if I said I never made a sideline call!

      As for your second question regarding balls rolling onto another court, I do believe anyone (player of bystander) should call a ball on court if someone risks getting hurt. Sometimes it’s frustrating when someone calls a “ball” when it’s simply rolling through the back court, but it can be distracting to the teM facing that way and really, better safe than sorry.

      Hope that helps!


  2. Definitely apply the rules strictly. Otherwise, where do you draw the line? Start overlooking marginal kitchen foot faults, service violations? Imagine playing chess like that and occasionally letting a bishop move like a rook?! The rules are an integral part of every game IMO.


  3. Great discussion. What about the Rossford rule during all open play that striking the opposing net player when attempting to serve to his/her partner in the back court results in a fault as opposed to a point for the server? Rossford defends that rule-bend on the grounds that otherwise overly competitive players would purposely attempt that shot. Those opposed to that rule bend say nobody does that because it’s too risky –you’re more likely to fault attempting that kind of strategy. In addition, it’s important to learn where to stand as a net player, which is affected by your ability to avoid zippy, wild serves. Some like the rule bend because it is social pball and it’s ok to be goofing around on the court a bit and not be penalized if you’re not paying attention occasionally–in other words, why reward a clearly wild serve just because somebody is maybe having a laugh as the Brits like to say? Others like the rule bend because we are playing with many seniors (like me!) who aren’t so quick to react–jerking your body out of the way of a wild serve could cause an annoying small injury or, worst case, a fall.
    And by the way, Rossford isn’t dictatorial on this I assume. If you’re over there at open play and the four people on the court prefer to stick to the rulebook, that’s fine. You just want to be on the same page as the game begins.


  4. Sometimes someone catches a ball that is obviously out. That would be bending the rules in friendly play. If that bothered you , I would remind the player that you must let the ball hit the floor and just move on to the next serve. Sometimes happens with an errant serve which I might not be inclined to allow, but a friendly reminder not to do again.


  5. I’ve played in several places where the fence or rear wall of a gym was too close to the court. Generally there was a mutual agreement a “one foot in the court rule” on the serve seemed fair. Also where the divider curtain in a gym impedes a service return we repeat the serve. I see that as a safety issue.


  6. A friendly game might be when people of varying skill levels are playing against each other. When the higher skilled player uses the game to teach the lesser skilled player the rules and the strategies of the game. When the higher skilled player doesn’t use every opportunity for a winning shot presented to them but continues play for the benefit of practice for the lesser skilled player. Using that definition of friendly play … ‘a learning opportunity’ … all rules should be followed. That’s a big part of the learning process. IMHO.


  7. Sorry this has nothing to do with this subject!
    When playing indoor and my opponent tries to hit a lob and the ball hits the ceiling, does play stop then?


    1. Under faults rule section 7. J. A ball in play strikes any permanent object before
      bouncing on the court. This is the rule that applies, although I have played where in house rules dictate to play it.


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