UPDATE TO THIS POST: ANOTHER RULES UPDATE EFFECTIVE FEB 1, 2019. Please click here for an updated post.
Click the image to view the rulebook on the IFP website.
I just returned from the USAPA Ambassador Retreat at Club Med in Port St. Lucie, Florida. One of the most anticipated sessions was with Christine Barksdale, USAPA Managing Director of Competition and Athletic Programs regarding the new rules changes.
The rule change that clearly caused the most aggravated discussion since the rule book was released in January has to do with the definition of the underhand motion of the serve. The specific rule is as follows:
Rule 3.A.36. Underhand – The player’s arm must be moving in a forward and upward arc with the palm turned upward or downward.
This rule is not a rule change. I repeat, in the words of Christine Barksdale, “There is no change.” This definition was added in order to clarify that a backhand serve, which would cause the back of the hand to be up (or palm down) is also legal. It does not mean that you cannot put spin on the ball when you serve, as long as all the other rules governing the serve are upheld. There’s nothing else to be read into this rule! See IFP Rulebook – Section 4.1
Another rule change that stands out, and IS different from the original rule, has to do with portable nets. If a hit ball crosses the net, then drops and hits the horizontal bar or the center base or gets caught in the net before hitting the floor, the new rule states that it shall be called a let and replayed. See IFP rulebook Rule 11.L.5
The last rule change I’ll point out today is clearly a new rule. This is Rule 4.A.9. “If the serve clears the net or hits the net and then touches the receiver or the receiver’s partner, it is a point for the serving team.” The prior rule that referenced this situation stated that if a served ball hit the net and then hit the receiver or receiver’s partner, it was a let and would be replayed. This change is more consistent with any other situation where if a ball hits a player, advantage goes to the team who hit the ball.
There are other changes, many of which are simple clarifications or things we don’t encounter everyday. For our convenience, the USAPA compiled a document called USAPA/IFP Major Rule Revisions which summarizes the rules that were notably changed. Check it out!
If you want a quick read that summarizes the game of pickleball, the IFP website has one! Take a look! Pickleball Rule Summary You might find this a useful piece to provide to your new players.
Lastly, consider joining USAPA. This is the organization that supports and guides our sport. Membership benefits and how to join can be found here. It’s only $20/year (less for multiple year memberships).
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