What happens if a pickleball ball bounces back over the net (without being touched)?

A breakdown of the official rule (sometimes called the Over and Back Rule).

Jaclyn Brandt

how to play pickleball

06/19/2024

June 19, 2024

What happens if a pickleball ball lands on your side of the net and then bounces back over the net, without ever being touched by someone on your team? Here is a breakdown of the official rule to follow when this happens (sometimes called the Over and Back Rule).

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In pickleball, you will run into some weird situations, including those you never would have guessed were possible. One of those situations that causes a lot of questions is: What happens if a pickleball ball lands on your side of the net and then bounces back over the net, without ever being touched by someone on your team? Here is a breakdown of the official rule to follow when this happens (sometimes called the Over and Back Rule):

USA Pickleball Rule 11.L.4

Although a ball that bounces back over the net without being hit may seem like it would be rare, it actually happens quite often. Because of this, there is an actual rule for it in USA Pickleball that says:

“If a player hits the ball over the net into the opponent’s court, and then the ball bounces back over the net and bounces a second time without being touched by the opponent, the striking player wins the rally.”

This means that, if a ball lands in your court and you fail to touch it, and then it spins back to your opponent’s court, you have committed a fault and your opponent wins the rally.


However, there is a way you can still claim the rally if this happens, and that is if you can hit the ball before it lands in your opponent’s court. Learn more about this exception:

When can you cross the plane of the pickleball net? (Rule 11.I)

A related rule to the Over and Back rule is related to the plane of the pickleball net. According to the official pickleball rules, if you cross the plane of the net before you hit a ball, it is considered a fault.

After you hit the ball, you (or anything you are wearing or holding) may cross the plane of the net. However, no player is ever allowed to touch any part of the net system (net, posts, etc.), the opponent’s court, or the opponent at any time during live play.

But there is an exception to this rule, specifically when the ball lands in your court and bounces back to your opponents court without ever being touched:

Over and back rule exception (Rule 11.I.1)

The exception to the Plane of the Net rule is USA Pickleball Rule 11.I.1, which says that if the ball bounces into the receiving player’s court with enough backspin or wind to allow it to return to the other side of the net without being hit, the receiving player is allowed to cross the plane of the net to hit the ball (over, under, or around the post).

If you see the ball has landed in your court and is on its way to bounce back to the other side without being hit, you must wait until the ball crosses the plane of the net (back to your opponent’s side) before you hit that ball. But, if you are able to hit it and your opponent cannot hit it back, you will win the rally.