Rules Questions, Teaching and helping others

Rules question – what if the ball hits the net post? RULE REVISED 2/15/19

POST REVISED (AGAIN) February 18, 2019 – rule change

I was recently asked this question.  “If a ball hits one of the net posts, and then bounces in, is it legal?”  The answer is, NO.

The IFP Rules book states the following:

  • Rule 11.K.  The Net Posts:   The net posts (including connected wheels, arms, or other support construction) are positioned out of bounds. If a ball or player contacts the net post, it is a fault and a dead ball is declared.
    • 11.K.1  A ball contacting the net, net cable, or rope between the net posts remains in play.

Understand that the ball may not travel between the top and bottom net wires.

I know for some, that brings up a further question.  “What if the ball hits the horizontal support bar of a temporary net, or the center foot?”

Note: the IFP/USAPA Rules book was revised again and put into effect FEBRUARY 15, 2019.  The rule regarding a ball hitting the horizontal support bar of a temporary net, or the center foot was changed once again.  For the new rule book click here.  The specific rule for this situation follows:

  • 11.L.5   When net systems have a horizontal bar that includes a center base:
    • 11.L.5.a.  If the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base before going over the net, it is a fault.  If the ball goes over the net
    • 11.L.5.b  If the ball goes over the net and hits the center base or any part of the horizontal bar, or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar before touching the court, it is a let and will be replayed. See rule 11.L.5.c for an exception.
    • 11.L.5.c  On the serve, if the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base after going over the net, it is a fault.

You may also have heard about shots that are hit “around the post.” (See rule 11.L.3.) Perhaps your opponent hit a shot that caused you to run far outside of the court to either side.  Your return shot does not have to cross over the net.  As long as it lands in your opponents court, it can travel around or to the side of the post, and can even be below the height of the net!  Those shots are very exciting to watch, and even more exciting when you’re the one who just hit it!

Check out this video from Pickleball Channel  which is a great shot of an around the post shot!

around the post
Click for a great video of an around the post shot!

As always, when in doubt of a rule, refer to the IFP rules book!

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17 thoughts on “Rules question – what if the ball hits the net post? RULE REVISED 2/15/19”

    1. John, If for example you hit an Erne where you jump over the end of the kitchen to the area outside of the court, it is possible and legal for your momentum to carry you past the net to your opponents side. As long as you don’t touch any part of the net or it’s structure, it is legal.


  1. Are there any rules about the ball hitting the vertical center post on a temporary net? Is it part of the net system? Is it part of the support base? Is it part of the net?


    1. Yes there are! You will find the rules regarding the net in the IFP rules book. (
      The rules involving the net are in Section 11, specifically Rule 11.L.
      Rule 11.L.5 states,
      “For net systems with a horizontal bar that includes a center base:
      11.L.5.a. Before going over the net, if the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base, it is a fault.
      11.L.5.b. Except on the serve, if the ball goes over the net and hits the center base, or any part of the horizontal bar, or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar, a replay will be called. Other than on the serve, if the ball goes over the net and bounces on the court and then performs any of the 3 above listed actions, a replay shall occur.
      11.L.5.c. On the serve, if the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base or gets caught between the net and horizontal bar after going over the net, it is a fault.

      I hope this helps! Save the link I provided above for the complete, official rules book!


      1. Thank you for a prompt reply.
        So, is the vertical plastic stanchion in the fabric sleeve in the middle of the net part of the net system, part of the net, or part of the support base?
        What rule(s) apply when the ball strikes this piece of equipment?


      2. That would actually be part of the net, not the support system and would remain in play. If you could actually see that the ball hits the metal part that holds the holds the stick on the base it would be considered hitting the base. Any other part of the stick is part of the net.


  2. Betsy,
    I had an odd situation happen in a game this weekend: My opponent hit a shot with a lot of back spin that went over the net without contacting it, but after bouncing in the kitchen it spun back into the net and hit the bar (for a temporary net) before bouncing the 2nd time. I was in position to hit the ball before bouncing the 2nd time, but was unable to before it hit the net on our side. There was significant wind that day, which helped back the ball up into the net. I understand the official rules address the ball spinning back over the net without being touch, and that a player can reach over the net in this instance; I also understand that if the ball trickles over the net and hits the net bar before bouncing, the point gets replayed. I haven’t found anything regarding this specific instance, and was wondering if this point should also be replayed, or if the point is awarded to the player/team that hit the ball with a lot of spin. Please let me know if you are aware of anything.



    1. Chris,
      Reliable certified referee, Bob Unetich said, “It has been decided a couple years ago that it is only fair if a ball hits the horizontal bar and a player can’t then make a shot, a replay is in order. The bar is at fault so the player should not suffer!”

      Hope that’s helpful!
      Thanks for reading!Betsy


    2. What is the ruling on the following…. a ball is returned with enough back spin so that it hits in the kitchen and spins back over the net again without being hit by the opponent. It that a good return or a fault against the original hitter?


      1. Hello Ambrose! Congrats to the player who hit the ball with that much spin! Once it hit the floor on the opposite side, that team MUST hit it to return it, otherwise, the team to last hit it wins the rally!


  3. What if a temporary net does not extend outside the sidelines and a return strikes the side post of the net support structure and lands in on the opponents side of the court?


    1. HI Rick, Am I understanding that the net you describe is not of regulation size? If so, your game already doesn’t comply with the official rules to start with. This is understandable and probably happens often in fun, recreational play. Sometimes we play with what we have available! However, we can’t apply official rules to non-official situations, other than to say and agree that if the return hits the net post, it’s a fault. Period.


  4. Hi.
    My partner returned a serve into play, but mistakenly called the serve out. I overruled her, and although the other team did not hit a winner and we did not miss a shot, she said the opponent gets the point, instead of replaying the point as we would in tennis. True? I know if she missed the shot, or maybe even if the opponents hit a winner that we did not try for, they would get the point. I cannot find anything about this specifically online.
    Dan Thomas


    1. Hi Dan,
      I will get back to you on this. The IPF site where the rulebook is online is not loading this morning, and my paper rulebook is in my guestroom…where a guest is sleeping! So I’m off to play golf this morning and hope to get to it later today.
      In the meantime, what I can tell you is that when there is a disagreement between partners as to whether the ball was out or not, the judgement goes to the opponents. I’m guessing you know this. Your partner is correct that you do not replay the shot. A decision has to be made. In your description, if your opponents stopped play because she called the serve out (after the ball touched the ground), they could argue that they stopped play because of it. Now if she called it out before it touched the ground (which it doesn’t seem like she did because she hit it back) it would have been player communication, but that would likely occur if she was telling YOU it was out.
      I guess a further question would be to ask you……at what point did you overrule her call…..immediately, or after the ball was dead, and did the opponent claim that they stopped play when she called the ball out? If so, it would be theirs.

      I know there is a rule that discusses player calls. When I get home, I’ll see if I can get to the site, and if not, I’ll go to my print copy!
      Thanks for the question!



    2. Hi Dan,
      I’m back home and was able to get to the IFP rulebook. There is a rule that will answer your question.
      Section 6 Line Call Rules
      In doubles play, if one player calls the ball “out” and the partner calls it “in,” then doubt
      exists, and the ball must be declared “in” (except that any player may appeal a call to the
      referee in an officiated match).

      Hope this answers your question!
      CPL- Betsy


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