Pickleball Serving & Scoring Rules-USAPA & IFP Official Tournament Rulebook- 2018
THE SERVE, SERVICE SEQUENCE, & SCORING RULES
4.A. The Serve.
4.A.1. The entire score must be called before the server begins his or her service motion.
4.A.2. The service motion begins with the server’s arm movement initiating the swing, backward
or forward, to contact the ball.
4.A.3. At the beginning of the serve, both feet must be behind the baseline. At the time the ball is
struck, at least one foot must be on the playing surface or ground behind the baseline, and the
server’s feet may not touch the playing surface in an area outside the confines of the serving
4.A.4. The ball must be struck without bouncing it. A person with a disability, such as having the use of only one arm, may bounce the ball before making the service motion.
4.A.5. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke whereby the server’s arm must be moving in an upward arc
4.A.6. The paddle head must be below the server’s wrist when it strikes the ball. The highest point of the paddle head cannot be above the highest part of the wrist (where the wrist joint bends)
4.A.7. Contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level)
4.A.8. Placement. The server must serve to the correct service court (the court diagonally
opposite the server). The serve must clear the net and the NVZ. The serve may land on any
service court line.
4.A.9. If the serve clears the net or hits the net and then touches the receiver or the receiver’s
partner, it is a point for the serving team.
4.B. Player Positions.
4.B.1. Server and Receiver. The correct server & receiver and their positions are determined by
the score and the players’ starting positions in the game.
4.B.2. At the start of each game, the starting first server begins the serve from the right/even side of the court.
4.B.3. Each player will serve until a rally is lost or a fault is declared against the player or team.
4.B.4. As long as the server holds serve, after each point, the server will alternate serving from the right/even and left/odd sides of the court.
4.B.5.a. If the player’s score is even (0, 2, 4 ...), the serve must be made from the
right/even serving area and be received in the right/even service court by the opponent.
4.B.5.b. If the player’s score is odd (1, 3, 5 ...), the serve must be made from the
left/odd serving area and be received in the left/odd service court by the opponent.
4.B.5.c. After the server loses the rally or faults, a side -out occurs and service is awarded
to the opponent.
4.B.6. Doubles. Both players on a team will serve before a side out is declared, except at the start
of each game, when only the starting first server will serve. The starting first server of
each game is therefore designated as “Server 2” for scoring purposes since a side-out will
occur once a fault is committed by the team & service is awarded to the opposing team.
4.B.6.a. At the start of each side out, service begins in the right/even serving area.
4.B.6.b. When the team’s score is even (0, 2, 4 ...), the team’s starting first server’s
correct position is at the right/even serving area. When the team’s score is
odd (1, 3, 5 ...), the starting first server’s correct position is at the left/odd court.
4.B.6.c. After each side out, service begins with the player correctly positioned on the
right/even side of the court according to the team’s score. This player is referred
to as “Server 1” and his or her partner is“Server 2.”
4.B.6.d. Server 1 will serve, alternating service sides after each point is won, until a
rally is lost or fault is called on the server’s team.
4.B.6.e. After Server 1’s team loses a rally or faults, Server 2 will serve from the correct position and will alternate serving positions as long as the serving team continues to win points.
The Serve, Service Sequence, and Scoring Rules
4.B.6.f. The receiving team does not alternate positions when a point is scored by the
serving team. The receiving team may switch positions after the return of serve, but after the rally is over, the receiver must return back to the correct position, which corresponds to the team’s score and the players’ starting positions.
4.B.7. Partner Positions. In doubles, there is no restriction on the position of the partners of the
server and receiver as long as they are on their respective team’s side of the net. They can be
positioned on or off the court.
4.B.8. Prior to the start of the service motion, to determine the correct server and correct service
court, the serving team may ask the referee the score and “Am I the correct server?” Players
may not ask if they are in the correct position.
4.B.9. Prior to the start of the service motion, to determine the correct receiver and his or her
position, the receiving team may ask the referee to confirm the score. Players may not
ask if they are in the correct position.
4.B.10. The referee will not correct players’ positions. When an incorrect player serves or receives, or a player serves from an incorrect position, the referee will immediately stop play and identify the fault.
4.B.11. Incorrect Server or Player Position. When an incorrect server or player position is discovered after a rally, the offending team can be faulted until the next serve occurs. A point scored during the rally will not count. Any previous points scored by the incorrect server or with
players in the incorrect positions will stand.
4.C. Readiness. The service motion will not start until the score has been called in its entirety.
4.C.1. Not-Ready Signals. The server and receiver must use one of the following signals to
indicate that he or she is not ready to serve or receive the serve, respectively:
- Raising the paddle above his or her head,
- Raising the non-paddle hand above his or her head, or
- Completely turning his or her back to the server. These signals are not valid if used by the server’s or receiver’s partner.
4.C.2. Once the score has been called, the receiver cannot become “not ready” unless there is a valid hinder.
4.D. Calling the Score. The referee shall call the score when he or she determines that the receiver is in position or should be ready to play. In doubles, when calling the score, the referee does not have to wait for the receiver’s partner or the server’s partner to be ready.
4.D.1. If it appears the server or receiver is delaying the game, the referee will call the score to start the 10-Second Rule. See 4.E.
The Serve, Service Sequence, and Scoring Rules
4.D.2. Any player may call a time-out once the score has been called but not after the service motion has begun.
4.E. The 10-Second Rule. Once the referee determines the receiver is in position and ready or should be in position and ready and the score has been called, the server is allowed 10 seconds to serve the ball.
4.E.1. If the server exceeds 10 seconds to serve, a fault will be declared.
4.E.2. A fault will be called against a receiver who signals “not ready” after the score has been called unless there is a hinder. A player or team out of position is not a valid hinder.
4.E.3. A receiver who attempts to return a serve shall be considered to have been ready, whether or
not contact with the ball was made.
4.E.3.a. If no attempt was made, the referee will determine if the receiver had a valid reason.
4.E.3.b. A valid reason will result in a service replay. Some valid reasons are court
safety issues or hinders that occur as the ball is served.
4.F. Scoring. A singles player or doubles team scores points only when serving.
4.G. Points. A point is scored by serving the ball & winning the rally. Points may also be scored when technical fouls are called against the opposing side.
4.H. Winning the Game. The first side scoring the winning point wins.
4.I. Calling the Score in Singles Matches. The proper sequence for calling the score is server score then receiver score as two numbers; e.g., “one – zero.”
4.J. Calling the Score in Doubles Matches. The score is called as three numbers in doubles matches. The proper sequence for calling the score is: serving team’s score –
receiving team’s score – the server number (one or two), (e.g., “zero – one – one”). To start each game, the score will be called as “zero – zero – two.”
4.K. Wrong Score Called. If the server or referee calls the wrong score, any player may stop play before the return of serve to ask for a correction.
4.K.1. If the score was incorrect, the player or referee will call the correct score and the ball will be
re-served with no penalty.
4.K.2. A player who stops play after the serve when there is no error in the score will have
committed a fault and shall lose the rally.
4.K.3. A player who stops play after the return of serve will have committed a fault and shall lose
4.L. Service Foot Faults. During the serve, when the ball is struck, the server’s feet shall:
- Not touch the area outside the imaginary extension of the sideline.
- Not touch the area outside the imaginary extension of the centerline.
- Not touch the court, including the baseline.
4.M. Service Faults. During the service, it is a fault against the server resulting in loss of serve if:
- The server serves from the incorrect serving area.
- In doubles, the incorrect player serves the ball.
- The server misses the ball when trying to hit it.
- If the ball lands on the ground without the server swinging at the ball, it is not a fault.
- The served ball touches any permanent object other than the net, the receiver, or the receiver’s partner before it hits the ground.
- The served ball touches the server or server’s partner or anything the server or server’s
- partner is wearing or holding.
- The served ball lands in the non-volley zone.
- The served ball lands outside the service court.
- The served ball hits the net and lands inside the non-volley zone.
- The served ball hits the net and lands outside the service court.
- The server begins the service motion before the entire score is called.
- The server uses an illegal service motion.
- The server or his/her partner calls a time-out after the score has been called and the server has started the service motion.
- The serving team asks the referee to confirm the correct server and/or the team’s score after the score has been called and the server has started the service motion.
Receiver Faults. It is a fault against the receiving team resulting in a point for the server if:
- The incorrect player returns the serve.
- The receiver or the receiver’s partner is touched by or interferes with the flight of the
- ball before it bounces.
- The receiver calls time-out after the score has been called and the server has started the
- service motion.
- The receiver signals “not ready” after the score has been called.
- The receiving team asks the referee to confirm the score after the score has been called and the server has started the service motion.
4.O. Service Lets. There is no limit to the number of lets a server may serve. The serve is a let and will be replayed if:
- The serve touches the net, strap, or band and is otherwise good and lands in the service court.
- The referee calls a service let.
- Any player may call a service let. If the referee determines that a let called by a player did not
- occur, a fault will be declared against the offending player.
SECTION 5 – SERVICE AND SIDE SELECTION RULES
- Selection of Side, Service, or Receive.
- Any fair method can be used to determine which player or team has first choice of side,
- service, or receive. (Example: Write a 1 or 2 on the back of the score sheet.) If the winner
- chooses to serve or receive first, the loser picks the starting side. If the winner chooses starting side, the loser chooses to serve or receive.
- Once a selection has been made, it cannot be changed.
- In doubles, the starting first server may be changed before the start of any game with
- notice given to the referee.
- The starting first server for each doubles team must visibly wear the form of identification
- determined by the tournament director.
5.B. Change of Sides.
- Sides and initial service will be switched upon the completion of each game.
- The maximum of 2 minutes is allowed between games. The referee will announce a 15-second warning and then call the score after the full 2 minutes has elapsed and apply the 10-Second Rule even if all players are not on the court and/or not ready to play. See Rule 4.E.
- In a match with two out of three games to 11 points, in game three, sides will be switched when the first team reaches a score of 6. Serve remains with the player holding serve.
- In a game to 15 points, sides will be switched when the first team reaches a score of 8. Serve
- remains with the player holding serve.
- In a game to 21 points, sides will be switched when the first team reaches a score of 11. Serve remains with the player holding serve.
- The maximum time allowed to switch sides during a game is 60 seconds. The referee will announce a 15-second warning, then call the score after the full 60 seconds and apply the 10-Second Rule even if all players are not on the court and/or not ready to play.
SECTION 6 – LINE CALL RULES
- A served ball that clears the non-volley zone and lands in the correct service court or on any correct service court line is in.
- Except the serve, any ball in play that lands in the court or touches any court line is in.
- A ball contacting the playing surface outside of the baseline or sideline, even though the edge of the ball overlaps the line, is considered out of bounds
6.D. Code of Ethics for Line Calling.
The line-calling responsibilities of players are different from those assigned to referees or line judges. The player, when assigned line-calling duties, must strive for accuracy and operate
under the principle that all questionable calls must be resolved in favor of the opponent.
The basic elements are:
- Players will call the lines on their side of the court (excluding service foot faults and all nonvolley-zone lines, if being called by a referee).
- Players’ only line call is the centerline on the serve in matches that have line judges.
- The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made.
Any ball that cannot be called “out” will be considered “in.”
- A player cannot claim a “let” because the ball was not seen or there is uncertainty. A player may appeal to the referee to make the call if he or she did not clearly see the ball land. If the referee is unable to make the call, the ball is “in.”
- Spectators should not be consulted on any line call.
- A player should not question an opponent’s call, although a player may appeal a call to a