The official rules of pickleball

The rules of pickleball are comprehensive and provide answers to the many issues that arise in a game that is played worldwide on many different types of courses by players of all abilities.

Line call in pickleball game

Your success at pickleball depends largely on your ability to hit the ball within the lines on the court. A line call is simply a verbal indication of whether the ball hit within the line or outside of it. For example, if a player shouts “out,” that means the ball has traveled beyond the line and out of fair play.

In most situations, the players are responsible for making objective judgments on line calls, each making the call on their respective sides. The code of ethics established by the USAPA says that if a call is in question, it should be “resolved in favor of the opponent.”

3.1. The ball is "in"

3.1.1. A served ball that clears the non-volley zone and lands in the correct service court or on any correct service court line is in.

3.1.2. Except the serve, any ball in play that lands in the court or touches any court line is in.

3.2. The ball is "out"

A ball contacting the playing surface completely outside of the court is “out”.

Ball in or out

3.3. Code of ethics for line calling

Pickleball is played according to specific rules. It also requires a code of ethics for line-calling responsibilities when performed by players.

The line-calling responsibilities of players are different from those assigned to referees or line judges. The officials make impartial judgment calls with all players' interests in mind. The player, when assigned line-calling duties, must strive for accuracy and operate under the principle that all questionable calls must be resolved in favor of the opponent.

The basic elements are:

3.3.1. Players will call the lines on their side of the court (excluding service foot faults and all nonvolley-zone lines, if being called by a referee).

3.3.2. Players’ only line call is the centerline on the serve in matches that have line judges.

3.3.3. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made. Any ball that cannot be called “out” will be considered “in.” A player cannot claim a “let” because the ball was not seen or there is uncertainty. A player may appeal to the referee to make the call if he or she did not clearly see the ball land. If the referee is unable to make the call, the ball is “in.”

3.3.4. Spectators should not be consulted on any line call.

3.3.5. A player should not question an opponent’s call, although any player may appeal a call to the referee before the score is called to start the next point.

3.3.6. Requesting Opponents’ Help. A player may ask the opponent’s opinion if the opponent was in a better position to make a line call on the player’s side of the court. The vision of a player looking down the line is more likely to be accurate than one looking across the line. An opponent’s opinion, if requested, must be accepted.

3.3.7. Do not call a ball “out” when you are looking across the line, unless you can clearly see a space between the line and the ball as it hits. The player’s depth-of-field judgment, based on the laws of parallax, prevents accurate judgment in these cases.

3.3.8. All “let” or “out” calls must be made “instantly”; otherwise, the ball is presumed good and still in play. “Instantly” is defined as calling “let” or “out” prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before a dead ball is declared.

3.3.9. In doubles play, if one player calls the ball “out” and the partner calls it “in,” then doubt exists and the team’s call will be “in.” Any player may appeal a call to the referee. If the referee did not see the ball, the ball is considered in.

3.3.10. “Out” line calls should be promptly signaled by voice and may include a hand signal, regardless of how obvious they may seem. Deaf (non/verbal) Mutes are allowed to use HAND SIGNALS only.

3.3.11. While the ball is in the air, if a player yells “out,” “no,” “bounce it,” or any other words to communicate to his or her partner that the ball may be out, it shall be considered player communication only and not considered a line call.

3.3.12. If an “out” call is made after the ball bounces, it will be considered a line call. The ball will be considered dead and play shall stop. If a player on the receiving team (the team that did not make the out call) or the referee upon appeal then indicates the ball was in, it is a fault against the team called the ball out. Exception: If the match has line judges, the baseline and sideline judges are responsible for the call. See 3.4.

3.4. Line judges

3.4.1. It is recommended that line judges be assigned to medal matches. The tournament director or designated representative will select line judges.

3.4.2. Line judges will call all line faults within their jurisdiction and will signify fault by loudly calling “out” and giving an accepted hand signal.

Accepted hand signals are:

  • “Out” ball – outstretched arm pointing in direction of the out-of-bounds ball path.
  • “In” ball – arms extended parallel to court with palms down.
  • Blocked/blinded – use hands to cover eyes. Note: If the line judge displays this signal, the referee can make the call immediately.