What is a pickleball let serve? What happens when the ball hits the net

Can the pickleball ball hit the net, during a serve or during regular play?

Jaclyn Brandt

serves

04/11/2024

April 11, 2024

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A pickleball let is one of the most questioned rules in the sport. But what is a let in pickleball, and what is a let serve? Can the pickleball ball hit the net, during a serve or during regular play?

What is a let?

A serve let in tennis is when a service ball hits the net before bouncing into the other side of the net.

In tennis:

  • If the serve hits the net and then lands into the correct service box, it is a replay.

  • If the serve hits the net and then lands outside of the correct service box, it is a fault.

  • If the serve hits the net and then hits the post, it is a fault.

In pickleball, the let rules are slightly different, and exist both during the serve and regular play. But the pickleball let rule again has to do with the ball hitting the net.

USA Pickleball let rules

USA Pickleball’s official rules never mention the word “let.” Their official rule for whether the ball can hit the net says:

4.A.2. Placement. The server must serve to the correct service court (the court diagonally opposite the server). The serve may clear or touch the net and must clear the NVZ and the NVZ lines. The serve may land on any other service court line. 

Pickleball let serve rules

A pickleball let serve is when the ball is served and hits the net. Contrary to tennis, a let serve in pickleball will never cause a replay, but is allowed in some cases.

In pickleball, during the serve:

  • If the serve hits the net and then lands in the correct service box (crosscourt from the server), it is a live ball.

  • If the serve hits the net and then lands in the kitchen (or NVZ zone), including on the kitchen line, it is a fault.

  • If the serve hits the net and then lands outside of the correct service box, it is a fault.

  • If the serve hits the net and then hits the post, it is a fault.

Pickleball let rules

A pickleball let during regular play is when the ball hits the net and then lands on your opponent's side of the net.

In pickleball, during regular play (any time except during the serve):

  • If the ball hits the net and then lands anywhere within your opponent’s court, including the kitchen, it is a live ball.

  • If the ball hits the net and then lands outside of your opponent’s side of the court, it is a fault.

  • If the ball hits the net and then hits the post, it is a fault.