I’m writing this just in case there is still one person out there that has not yet heard of the Rule Changes for 2024, and has been waiting for this article to appear in the January edition of SCOOP! There were 27 changes approved for 2024, most of which are minor edits and changes. We will discuss the more significant changes in this article.
I feel I must start with one of more significant rule changes that has come into effect, but not in 2024, this was introduced in August of 2023. While it is unusual for USA Pickleball to put a rule change into effect mid-year it is not unheard of.
Most people will now be aware of this change but, let’s review it for that one person!
Player Position 4.B.9
“The Referee will confirm and correct, if necessary, that all players are in the correct position and the correct server has the ball before calling the score.”
- If the Referee or a player stops play to correctly identify a player position or wrong server issue a REPLAY shall be called.
- Players can call this at any point during the rally, as long as they are correct, and a REPLAY will be given.
- If a Player incorrectly stops play to correct a player position error, it is a FAULT.
- If the Referee incorrectly stops play to correct an error, a REPLAY will be called.
- If a Player/Position error is identified after the rally has completed, the rally will stand as played.
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 the 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.
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.
There has been considerable discussion and questioning on this issue since coming into effect. I have been asked to explain what a catch or carry is and when should it be called.
We have all probably played a ball that has been a carry but may not have identified it as such. It is when the ball stays on the paddle for an extended period and all in one motion the paddle quickly comes forward with the ball staying on the paddle face to be sling-shotted across the net. The other example is when the opposition hits a lob to the back of the court and a player returns the ball over their shoulders by scooping the ball back to the other end of the court. Both FAULTS! Note: In recreational games, player’s should be calling FAULT on themselves or their partner! This is no different than seeing your foot on or in the NVZ when volleying the ball… Make the FAULT call.
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.
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.
NOTE: Related to medical time-outs; Case 5-23 in the USA P Casebook established how and when a player can rescind a requested medical time-out, and that the medical time-out would NOT be charged to the player. The ruling has been revised to require that the requested medical time-out be charged to the player, if a player rescinds the requested MTO after requesting it, but before medical personnel arrive… the MTO will now be charged against that player.
Paddle Specifications (2.E.2/2.E.5.a/2.E.5.c)
Paddle specifications have been updated to address new and emerging paddle technology and features and to clarify the alterations that players are allowed to make to certified paddles.
2.E.2 – Surface shall not contain, delamination, holes, cracks rough textures or indentations that break the skin or surface, allowing players to impart excessive spin on the ball.
2.E.5.a – Alterations or additions to paddles may include; edge guard tape/replacements, weighted tape, weights for an OEM integrated weight system, changes to grip size via inserts, grip wraps, OEM interchangeable grips, OEM replacement paddle faces, and name decals and/or other identification marking on the paddle face.
2.E.5.c – The only permissible handwritten pen markings allowed on the paddle’s playing surface must be for identification purposes only (name, signature, phone #, email address.) No aftermarket graphics are allowed on a commercially made paddle.
Mini-singles is currently an approved format. The specific rules governing mini-singles are now incorporated in the Rulebook.
While there are a lot of words, there is not a lot of change, but a few details that Referees certainly need to be aware of. Good luck and good skills on the courts in 2024!
PC National Leader of Officiating