How To Deal With Cheaters In Pickleball

Pickleball is a fantastic sport known for its friendly competition and welcoming atmosphere. But like any competitive activity, there’s a chance you might encounter someone who bends the rules and cheats on you during the match. Here’s a guide on handling cheaters in pickleball while maintaining your composure and sportsmanship.

Dealing With Rule Breakers

Stay Calm and Assess: Getting flustered won’t help. Take a deep breath and consider the situation. Was it a genuine mistake or something more intentional?

Communicate Clearly:

  • Address the Issue: If you suspect a rule violation, politely point it out. Sometimes, it might be an honest mistake, and a friendly reminder can clarify things.
  • Focus on the Rule: Instead of accusing someone of cheating, explain the specific rule you think they might be breaking.

Escalating the Issue:

  • Seek Mediation: In organized play (leagues, tournaments), if the issue persists, call a timeout and talk to an official or event organizer. They are there to enforce the rules.
  • Line Judges: If cheating continues, request a line judge to make calls for both sides, removing the pressure of self-officiating.

Record Keeping: If the cheating is blatant and continues, consider having someone record the game (with permission from everyone playing). This footage can be used as evidence if you need to file a formal complaint.

Involve Others: If the situation becomes tense or the player is belligerent, don’t be afraid to involve others. Talk to your partner or call the referee (if there is one) to mediate.

Remember Sportsmanship: It’s important to be respectful even when dealing with a rule breaker. Focus on the game and avoid getting into a personal argument.

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Player Experiences With Cheating

Player experiences with cheating in games can be incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. It undermines the sense of fair play and achievement that’s core to the enjoyment of many games. Here’s a breakdown of the two main sides of the coin

Frustration In League Games

A player expressed frustration about opponents consistently making unfair calls and conveniently overlooking points during matches. They proposed a solution by implementing line judges and suggested leaving the court when faced with intolerable situations.

What we suggest 

Instead of leaving the court when opponents make unfair calls or skip points, I suggest a different approach. Let’s organize a meeting with both teams and a neutral mediator. We can calmly discuss the issues and try to understand each other’s perspectives. This way, we can clarify misunderstandings and agree on following the rules together. It’s about creating a respectful conversation instead of abruptly ending the game.

Involving League Administrators

Another player recommends involving league administrators right away when disputes happen. This way, distractions are minimized, and everyone can stay focused on the game.

What we suggest 

Instead of just depending on league administrators to step in when there are disputes, I like the idea of initiating a pre-game agreement on rule enforcement. Both teams can talk about how they’ll handle disagreements, like agreeing to use a third-party line judge if there’s a dispute over a call. This way, we set clear rules upfront and cut down on the need for interruptions during the game.

3. Refusing To Play

Some people suggest not playing against those known to cheat in future matches to avoid drama and have a better time playing.

What we suggest 

Instead of refusing to play against known cheaters, another option is to organize a training session on rules and sportsmanship for all players. This could help reform those who have played unfairly in the past rather than excluding them.

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What If The Cheating Persists?

If certain players consistently cheat and it ruins your enjoyment of the game, it might be best to stop playing with them as a last resort. It’s not about excluding them but about spending your recreational time in a positive environment.


Dealing with cheating in pickleball can be frustrating, but it’s crucial to maintain fairness and enjoyment in the game, right? Most people you’ll encounter on the court just want to have a good time and play by the rules. So, let’s not allow a few bad experiences to sour our love for the game.

Remember to cherish every game, stick to the rules, and if things get complicated, remember why you started playing pickleball for the first time—to have fun and stay active.

By focusing on preventive measures like clear communication before the game and establishing ground rules, we can all contribute to keeping the spirit of sportsmanship alive. So, let’s hit the court, keep it light, and play the game the way it was meant to be played!