9 Pickleball Rules 2022 – Changes – Summarized For Easy Reading
USA Pickleball has just released the new pickleball rules for 2022. These changes are effective on January 1, 2022.
The purpose of this article is to help pickleball players understand the changes.
In this article, we will outline the primary changes and explain how they will impact gameplay.
Spin Serve (Rule 4.A.5)
The first pickleball rule change begins with the spin serve (Rule 4.A.5) and states:
In 2022, the server shall use only one hand to release the ball to perform the serve. If the ball is visibly spun by the server during the release, the part(s) of the hand contacting the ball must be bare.
This means that the famous chainsaw serve that became common in 2021, is no longer allowed.
In other words, a player may only toss the pickleball with his or her non-paddle hand. If he or she does not have use of their non-paddle hand, the paddle can be used to fling the pickleball to serve.
Keep in mind that the server can still apply spin to the ball using their non-paddle hand.
The Drop Serve Rule (Rule 4.A.6)
The drop serve rule was provisional but it’s now an official rule.
The drop serve rule is:
Rule 4.A.6.a – Servers must release the ball from one of server’s paddle face from any natural (unaided) height and hit the ball after the ball bounces. There is no restriction how many times the ball can bounce nor where the ball can bounce on the playing surface. The server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and the receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. A replay shall be called before the return of the serve if the release of the ball is not visible. The rules for feet placement (4.A.4) still apply.
Rule 4.A.6.b – The ball shall not be propelled (thrown) downward or tossed or hit upward with the paddle.
Rule 4.A.6.c – If the drop serve is used, the ball may be struck with either a forehand or backhand motion without any other restriction i.e., the location restrictions of the ball and paddle in Rules 4.A.5.a, 4.A.5.b and 4.A.5.c do not apply.
Wrong Score Called (Rule 4.K)
The rules concerning what happens if the wrong score is called by a player or a referee have changed.
If a player thinks a wrong score has been called, a player may stop play to ask for a correction before the ball is served. If it has been served, the rally is to be played out and the score correction (if any) is made before the next serve occurs.
This is an interesting one, that’s for sure, especially in recreational play where it’s not uncommon for the wrong score to be called. What the wrong score rule means is that the serving team/serving side can’t be interrupted by the receiving team after they’ve started their serve. No more stopping play to correct the score or question it because now the official rulebook states that you’ll need to wait until play stops (until the rally ends).
A Dropped Ball (Rule 7.N)
I personally haven’t seen players carrying extra balls onto a court during a recreational game but apparently this must be common since there is a rule in the official rulebook to address the problem. I mean, where are pickleball players storing spare balls?
Here is the Dropped Ball Rule:
In non-officiated matches, it is not uncommon for a player to carry an extra ball. If an extra ball is carried, it must not be visible to the opponent. If a player accidentally drops an extra ball during a rally, it will result in a fault. This does not apply in an officiated match because the referee is responsible for removing any extra pickleballs from play.
Medical Time-outs Called by a Referee (Rule 10.H.2.a)
I’m not sure how often a medical time-out is called during tournament play but clearly it’s used often enough that this rule has been included in the official rulebook. I like the idea. I understand that if officiators feel the need to call a medical time-out, before the pickleball player does, then the player should still have the option to call a medical time-out at another point, should they determine they need it.
Here’s the Medical Time-Out Called By a Referee Rule:
If a referee, in the interest of player safety, determines that either medical personnel or the Tournament Director should be consulted for a player health issue, that time to the player as a medical time– out is not chargeable out. The player retains the right to call their own medical time out later in the match, if needed.
Verbal Warnings (Rule 13.G.1)
A referee may now issue verbal warnings for more than just profanity. Any situation that could result in a Technical Warning may instead be addressed by the referee as a verbal warning. Only one verbal warning per match, no matter what the infraction, may be issued to a team, or player in singles.
It’s difficult to imagine that verbal warning rules need to be in the official rulebook but we’ve all seen profanity and interesting behavior on the court, not just in pickleball but in most sports. There are nine specific situations outlined by the USA Pickleball official rulebook ranging from the use of profanity to using a medical time-out without reason.
Calling the Score After a 15 Second Warning (Rule 10.A.5)
This rule applies in tournament play:
Instead of a referee calling the score immediately after the 15 second warning expires, the referee will call the score after the players are ready, or should be ready.
When to Assess a Technical Warning or Foul (Rule 1 3.G.3.e)
Referees are empowered to issue Technical Warnings or Technical Fouls for various reasons but it has been unclear exactly when a technical should be announced.
The 2022 rules now make it clear that a referee will not stop a rally to call a technical warning or foul on an offending team. Any technical warnings or fouls will be assessed after the rally is over.
To me, this rule only makes sense. Interuppting play to address a technical warning or foul only penalizes the non-offending team.
Earbuds (Rule 11.P)
The earbuds (11.p rule) is:
While some sports allow coaching during active play, pickleball does not. Since it is possible that a player could receive coaching via earbuds, earbuds will not be permitted on the court during tournaments with the exception of hearing aids.
Wow, ya, another rule that’s so hard to believe that it even exists and it’s for tournament play. It must be needed if it exists but I personally have not witnessed anyone wearing earbuds in rec play or tournament play.
Tournament Score for a Retirement (Rule 12.F.6.a)
The score recorded for a player or a team that elects to retire from a match has been revised to allow the actual score of the match for that team to be recorded. A team retiring may play additional matches in their bracket if any are warranted.
2022 Pickleball Rule Changes
The USA Pickleball Rules committee takes recommended rule changes from members of the USA Pickleball Association. They evaluate, along with the IFP and then determine which pickleball rules will be changed.