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.

Time-out rules in pickleball game

Whether you’re playing singles or doubles, only two time-outs are allowed per game for side (team). Time outs are limited to 60 seconds in length. If a server has started the serving motion, you can’t call a time-out; you can only call a time-out when the ball is not in play. Should the game rules be augmented so the winner is trying to reach 21 points, each side is allowed three total time outs.

Another exception is for injury time out; however, it must be agreed either with the referee or opposing team that an injury has taken place. Injury time outs are limited to 15 minutes. If the injured person cannot resume play, the match goes to the opponent. There are also equipment time outs. While players are expected to maintain their clothing and equipment during regular time outs and during the brief periods between games (not to exceed two minutes), fair and safe continuation of the match is also the priority. Should something occur during regular play that compromises clothing or equipment, a two-minute equipment time out can be called.

7.1. Standard time-out

7.1.1. A player or team is entitled to two time-outs per 11- or 15-point game. For games to 21 points, each team is allowed three time-outs per game.

7.1.2. Each time-out period may last up to 1 minute.

7.1.3. Play must be resumed at 1 minute or when all players are ready to resume play, whichever occurs first, unless another time-out is called by either side. Rule 10.A.6 procedures will be followed to resume play during a standard time-out.

7.1.4. Time-outs may not be called once the referee has called the score and the server has begun the service motion or the ball is in play.

7.1.5. Additional time-outs for player hydration are not allowed. Exception: See 7.3.

7.1.6. There is no penalty for calling a time-out when none is available if all other time-out rules are complied with. Play will immediately resume.

7.1.7. The referee will give the players a warning when there are 15 seconds remaining. At the end of the time-out, the referee will call “time in”, and announce the score to begin the 10-Second Rule even if all players are not on the court and/or not ready to play. If the server does not serve within 10 seconds after the score is called, and no additional time-outs are called or available, a fault will be called.

7.2. Medical time-out

7.2.1. If a player is accidentally injured during a match, that player may take a medical timeout. On-site medical staff should be summoned to assess the situation and render appropriate first aid. There are no medical time-outs for muscle cramping unless deemed necessary by the on-site medical team or the tournament director.

7.2.2. Medical personnel, or the tournament director if no medical personnel are present, must agree that there is a valid reason for a medical time-out to take place and that the player is not just stalling to rest or recuperate.

  • If medical personnel, or the tournament director if no medical personnel are present, determine that there is a valid medical condition, then that player will be allowed no more than 15 minutes for the medical time-out. If the player cannot resume play after the 15-minute medical time-out period, the match shall be awarded to the opponents. Rule 7.1.7 procedures will be followed to resume play during a medical time-out.
  • If medical personnel, or the tournament director if no medical personnel are present, determine that there is not a valid medical condition, the player or team will be assessed a regular time-out, if available, and issued a technical warning. If a technical warning has already been issued, then a technical foul will be called. The medical time-out is no longer available to that player for that match.

7.2.3. A player may take only one medical timeout per match.

7.2.4. The time used must be continuous and may be up to 15 minutes. If less than 15 minutes is used, no additional medical time is available to the player during that match.

7.2.5. If blood is present, play may not resume until the bleeding has been controlled and any blood on clothing and the court has been cleaned up.

  • All issues relating to blood cleanup or control will be considered a referee time-out, unless the injury is intentionally self-inflicted.

7.3. Hydration break

The tournament director may authorize referees to allow players to quickly drink water or other hydration as long as it does not impact the flow of the game. During this time, partner communication is not allowed.

7.4. Equipment time-outs

7.4.1. Players are expected to keep all apparel and equipment in good playable condition and are expected to use regular time-outs and time between games for adjustments and replacement of equipment. If a player or team is out of time-outs and the referee determines that an equipment change or adjustment is necessary for fair and safe continuation of the match, the referee may award an equipment time-out not to exceed 2 minutes. Rule 7.1.7. procedures will be followed to resume play during an equipment time-out.

7.4.2. Apparel and equipment adjustments that can be accomplished quickly are allowed between points (e.g., tying shoelaces, cleaning glasses, adjusting hat).

7.5. Time between games

The period between each game in a match shall not exceed 2 minutes. Rule 7.1.7. procedures will be followed to resume play.

7.6. Time between matches

7.6.1. The minimum time between matches shall be 10 minutes. If all players are ready to play prior to 10 minutes, the match may be called early.

7.6.2. In a championship match with a tiebreaker match: If the winner of the losers bracket defeats the winner of the winners bracket, then a tie-breaker match to 15 points must be played. Maximum time between the championship match and the tie-breaker match is 10 minutes. Rule 7.1.7. procedures will be followed to begin play for the tie-breaker match.

7.7. Suspended games

A game suspended due to extenuating circumstances shall be resumed with the same server, score, and remaining time-outs as when interrupted.

7.8. Other time-out rules

7.8.1. No time-outs may be taken before a match starts. A match begins when all players are present and the starting score is called. Failure to be present on time shall result in match forfeiture.

7.8.2. A time-out may be called at the start of the second or third game in a two-out-ofthree-game match.