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Understanding pickleball's 10-second serve rule

Understanding pickleball's 10-second serve rule


By Jaclyn Brandt

On: 03/06/2024

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What is the pickleball 10-second rule and how will this affect your next pickleball game?
What is the pickleball 10-second rule and how will this affect your next pickleball game?

When you are learning your pickleball serve rules, the 10-second rule is an important piece of that. So, what is the 10-second rule and how will this affect your next pickleball game?

4.E. Pickleball 10-second rule

The 10-second rule under USA Pickleball says that, once the score has been called by the server, the server has 10 seconds to serve the ball.

This is true even if the receiving team is not yet in the correct position. However, the server should wait until the receiving team is ready to receive the ball.

The server should not start their serve until they have completed their score calling.

4.E.1. 10-second rules faults

If a server exceeds 10 seconds between calling the score and serving, it will be a fault. This means the server will lose their serve.

4.E.2. Re-starting the 10 seconds

If the server calls the score, and then realized they are on the wrong side of their serving court, then they are allowed to reposition and then the 10 second count will re-start.

What if you swing and miss the ball?

Previously, if you swung at the ball and missed it, it would be considered a fault and you would lose your serve. However, now you are allowed to do a few things in that 10 seconds without it being a fault:

  • If you swing and miss the ball.

  • If you toss to the ball or let the ball drop without attempting to swing at it.

You may do those two things but for it to not be considered a fault, you still need to get your actual serve off within that 10-second window.

Pickleball 10-second serve rule

The pickleball 10-second rule can be controversial on the court simply because the official rule from USA Pickleball is so short and does not go into much detail. But it is a simple rule, so don’t overthink it too much: You just need to remember that in pickleball, you have 10 seconds to serve after you call the score.


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