Everything to know about pickleball ball rules

Some of the top pickleball ball rules from USA Pickleball.

Jaclyn Brandt

ball

04/22/2024

April 22, 2024

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The ball is a crucial piece of equipment for the game of pickleball. But what are you allowed to do with it? And what are you not allowed to do? Here are some of the top pickleball ball rules from USA Pickleball.

The pickleball ball (Rule 2.D)

USA Pickleball has specific rules for the dimensions and composition of the ball in pickleball. Read all the specifications of both indoor and outdoor pickleball balls here.

Catching or carrying the ball (Rule 7.L)

A new change in 2024 has to do with catching or carrying the ball on your paddle. Previously, if you were to catch or carry the ball on your paddle, it was only a fault if it was determined that the player did so intentionally.

As of 2024, catching or carrying the ball on your paddle is a fault no matter what the intent was.

Color of the ball (Rule 2.G.1)

The rule about the color of the pickleball ball has less to do with the ball itself and more to do with anything else on the court that may match the ball.

The rule Safety and Distraction says that a player may be required to change their clothing or other equipment (including their paddle) if it is determined to be similar to the color of the pickleball ball.

Can the pickleball hit your hand? (Rule 7.H)

The pickleball ball is allowed to hit your paddle hand below the wrist without it being considered a fault. However, you do have to return that hit in order for it to remain a live ball.

Pickleball rules for when a ball hits a player (Rule 7.H)

If the pickleball ball hits a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying (except the player’s pickleball paddle or paddle hand below the wrist), it is considered a fault on the player who was hit.

Rule for calling the ball “in” or “out” (Rule 6)

Line call rules

Any part of the ball landing on any part of the line is considered “in” that section.

  • A ball is considered “in” during a serve if it is served crosscourt from the server: between the outer edges of the sideline and the center line, and is not touching the kitchen or kitchen line.

  • A ball is considered “in” during a rally (except the serve) if it is between the net and the outer edges of the sidelines and baseline.

Line call etiquette

Recreational pickleball generally has no refs, which means it’s up the players to call the ball “in” or “out.”

  • Players are responsible for calling the lines on their end of the court.

  • Players should only call a ball “out” if they clearly see a space between the line and ball as it hits the ground.

  • A player is allowed to ask their opponent for their opinion on an “in” or “out” ball. But if the opinion is requested, the opponent’s answer must be accepted.

  • If the player makes the initial call, and then asks for the opinion of their partner or opponent, but they cannot agree or disagree with the call, then the original line call stands.

  • Any balls that cannot be called “out” will be considered “in.”

    • There will be no replays if no one saw or can confirm an “out” ball.

  • Spectators should not have a say on a line call.

  • You must call a ball “out” before it is hit by your opponent.

  • If one player calls the ball “out” but their partner calls “in,” the ball shall be considered “in.”

Read more about line calls here.

The pickleball ball during the serve (Rule 4)

The ball affects the rules of the serve in many ways, including USA Pickleball rule 4.A.5, which says that:

  • The serve has to be made with only one hand releasing the ball.

  • The serve can not manipulate or the ball prior to the serve (although some natural rotation is expected).

    • An exception to this rule is that any player may use their paddle to perform the drop serve (4.A.8.a).

  • If a player has only one hand, they may use their paddle to release the ball to perform the volley serve.

There are many more serving rules that have to do with the ball. Read all the pickleball serve rules here.


If you are looking for specifications for indoor vs. outdoor pickleball balls, you can learn more in this story.