Stay ahead of the game! Get the scoop on the latest pickleball rule changes for 2024. Learn about carries, double hits, medical timeouts, and more. Play by the updated rules and keep your pickleball skills sharp.
Discover the latest changes in pickleball for 2024 with the newly released USA Pickleball rulebook! This year, 27 out of 92 suggested modifications have been approved, making the game even more exciting. The process started in March when any USA Pickleball member could share ideas, and by May, the suggestions were reviewed and accepted. The updates mainly focus on clarifying the rules and incorporating useful cases for referees.
Behind the scenes, the USA Pickleball (USAP) Rules Committee carefully evaluates suggestions involving the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) Rules Committee. Following the impactful ban on the spin serve in 2023, the 2024 Rulebook promises around 4-5 significant changes. Get ready for a better pickleball experience with these simple yet impactful rule updates, designed to enhance your play in the upcoming year!
Table of Contents
Pickleball Rule Changes for 2024
Conceding a Rally (13.E.4/13.E.5)
Rule 13.E.5 calls for a replay when a player overrules to their detriment a line judge’s ‘out’ call as ‘in.’ The player or team may now choose to concede the rally to their opponent if they determine they would have been unable to return the ‘in’ ball.
Similarly, Rule 13.E.4 calls for a replay when the referee overturns a line judge’s out call as in. The player or team who benefitted from the referee’s ruling may now choose to concede the rally to their opponent if they determine they would have been unable to return the ‘in’ ball.
Ready for a game-changing twist? Fairness and sportsmanship just got a major boost with two rule updates that put players in the driver’s seat!
1. Calling Your Own Shots (Rule 13.E.5):
- Spot a ball that’s actually ‘in’ despite a line judge’s ‘out’ call? Now you can overrule it! But if you know you couldn’t have returned that fiery shot, you have the power to concede the rally to your opponent. It’s all about keeping it real, even if it means sacrificing a point.
2. Referee’s Rewind (Rule 13.E.4):
- If the ref steps in and reverses a line judge’s ‘out’ call to ‘in’, you’re still in control! Were you mentally celebrating that ‘out’? If you honestly feel you couldn’t have handled that ‘in’ ball, you can gracefully concede the rally. It’s a true testament to the spirit of the game.
These rule changes are a game-changer, elevating honesty and integrity to a whole new level. Players now have the freedom to make decisions that align with their conscience and respect for their opponents. So remember, even in the heat of the match, true victory lies in playing with heart and fairness. Let’s raise the bar for sportsmanship together!
Correcting Server, Receiver, and Player Position Errors (4.B.9)
Faults for incorrect server, incorrect receiver, and player position errors are eliminated. The referee will now correct any such player errors before calling the score. Rule 4.B.9 is the primary rule text. Several other rules have been modified or deleted to correlate with this change.
Last year, players were told to ask, “Am I good?” to avoid mistakes in serving or positioning. Now, there’s a positive change – errors for serving, receiving, or being in the wrong spot are gone. The referee will fix any player mistakes before announcing the score. It makes things simpler and helps everyone play better!
If a point is played, and it turns out later that the server or returner was in the wrong position, what happens?
Before the rally:
- Referee takes charge: The referee will now check and correct any player errors related to serving, receiving, or positioning before calling the score. Players no longer need to ask, “Am I good?” to avoid faults.
During a rally:
- Rally replay for correctly identified errors: If either a player or the referee stops a rally in progress to correctly identify a player position error, the rally will be replayed.
- Fault for incorrectly identified errors: If a player stops a rally and incorrectly identifies a player position error, they will be faulted.
After a rally:
- Rally stands: If a player position error is identified only after a rally has finished, the result of the rally will remain as played.
- Rule 4.B.9 is the primary rule text governing these changes.
- Focus on playing, not positioning! The referee is there to ensure correct positioning, allowing you to concentrate on the game.
Catch or Carry Ball on the Paddle (7.L)
Rule 7.L now makes catching or carrying a ball on the paddle a fault without having to determine that the catch or carry was deliberately done.
By removing the words “deliberately” and “unintentional” from the old rulebook, this update shifts the burden from the referee. Hence, referees no longer need to judge a player’s intent when a carry occurs.“Any instance of a player catching or carrying the ball on their paddle will now be considered a fault, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.” Now, if a carry happens, it’s automatically considered a fault.
Carries vs. Double Hits:
Carry: A fault occurs when the ball does not bounce off the paddle but is carried along on its face.
Double Hit: Legal if the player hits the ball twice in a continuous, single-direction stroke. A fault occurs if the player intentionally hits it twice with separate strokes.
Draping Net (2.C.6/11.L.5.b)
Rule 2.C.6 called for a replay when a ball goes over the net and hits a net that is draped on the ground (except on a serve), but only if the referee determined that the ball was affected by the draped net. This rule, and Rule 11.L.5.b for temporary nets, now call for a replay without qualification. A determination that the ball was affected by the draped net is now not required in officiated or non-officiated play.
If a ball went over the net and hit a net draped on the ground (except during a serve), a replay was called only if the referee judged the draped net affected the ball’s path.
Any time a ball goes over the net and touches a net that’s draped on the ground, it’s automatically a replay. This applies to both permanent and temporary nets and in both officiated and non-officiated games.
- Automatic Replay: Regardless of the circumstances, a replay is always granted when the ball hits a draped net.
- No Referee Judgement: The previous requirement for a referee to determine if the ball was affected has been removed.
- Applies to All Nets and Games: The rule covers permanent and temporary nets and applies to both officiated and non-officiated matches.
- Serves are Excluded: The rule only applies to balls hit during regular play, not serves.
Medical Time-Outs (10.B.2.c)
A player is now allowed to use available standard time-outs after the 15-minute medical time-out has expired to allow more time before the player must retire from the match
1. Standard Time-outs After Medical Time-out:
Good news! Players can now utilize their remaining standard time-outs after the 15-minute medical time-out has been used. This provides additional flexibility to manage fatigue, strategize, or simply take a breather without facing immediate retirement from the match.
2. Rescinding Medical Time-outs:
Previously, Case 5-23 in the USAP Casebook allowed players to revoke a requested medical time-out without it counting against their allotted breaks. This loophole is now closed. The revised ruling clarifies that any requested medical time-out, even if rescinded, will be charged to the player’s standard time-out quota.
These changes aim to strike a balance between player well-being and fair competition. While allowing standard time-outs after a medical break grants players some leeway, charging for any requested medical time-out, regardless of its duration, discourages frivolous requests and ensures fairness for both players.
Paddle Specifications (2.E.2/2.E.5.a/2.E.5.c)
Old rule (2023):
The paddle’s hitting surface should not have any delamination, holes, cracks, rough textures, or indentations that break the paddle skin or surface.
New rule (2024):
The paddle’s hitting surface should not have any delamination, holes, cracks, rough textures, indentations, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart excessive spin on the ball.
Why the change?
The new rule is intended to address concerns about the increasing use of paddles that generate excessive spin, which can make the ball difficult to control and can give some players an unfair advantage.
Maximum Height Above Grip:
- Any decals or tape should not extend beyond 1 inch (2.54 cm) above the grip’s top. This rule ensures these additions do not interfere with the player’s hand placement or swing.
Distance from Paddle Edge:
- Decals and tape must maintain a minimum distance of 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) from the outer edge of the paddle. This rule applies even when an edge guard is used, with measurements taken from the inner edge of the edge guard.
- Restrictions on spin-enhancing features: Paddles can no longer have surfaces or features that intentionally increase spin on the ball. This includes rough textures, indentations, or added objects.
- Clarification on allowed modifications: Players can add handwritten markings for identification (name, signature, contact info) but cannot apply aftermarket graphics or other alterations to the paddle’s surface.
- Prohibition of specific materials: Anti-skid paint, rubber, synthetic rubber, and sandpaper-like textures are prohibited on paddle surfaces.
- Restriction on moving parts: Paddles cannot have any moving parts that might increase head momentum.
If you want to examine the detailed proposals, including all the changes and continuities planned for 2024, you can do so by reviewing the comprehensive information provided here. If you love pickleball and have ideas for how the game should be played in 2025, you can share your suggestions! Starting in March, anyone who’s a member of USA Pickleball can submit their thoughts. A group of people called the Rules Committee and Board of Directors will look at these ideas and decide which ones to use. Your input can help shape the rules!