Knowing the rules regarding line calls is a very important element of the game. Occasionally I see frustration/tension on the court regarding line calls. The IFP (International Federation of Pickleball) Tournament Rule book is the best place to turn to help elevate any confusion, frustration or tension that occurs over line calls. We all have to do our best to give the “benefit of the doubt” to our opponent when calling the lines. You are responsible to call the lines on “your” side of the court and your opponent is responsible to call “theirs”. When we forget our roles, that is when the tension increases. I hope the following will help those of you who are new to the game or those that just want to know “What is the rule?”
SECTION 6 – LINE CALL RULES (Rulebook pages 23-25)
6.A. Served balls that clear the non-volley line and land on any other service court line are good.
6.B. Balls in play (except on serve, see 6.A) that land on any court line are good.
6.C. 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. (revised
April 1, 2011)
6.D. Code of Ethics for Line-Calling
Pickleball is played according to specific rules. It also requires a code of ethics for line-calling responsibilities when performed by players. The line-calling responsibilities of players are different from those assigned to referees or line judges. The officials make impartial judgment calls with all players’ interests in mind. The player, when assigned line- calling duties, operates under the principle that all questionable calls must be resolved in favor of the opponent.
The basic elements are:
6.D.1. Players will call the lines on their side of the court (excluding the non-volley line, if being called by a referee).
6.D.2. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on
line calls made.
6.D.3. Spectators should not be consulted on any line calls. Spectators may be prejudiced, unqualified, or not in position to see the call, and therefore cannot participate.
6.D.4. All participants should strive for accuracy in making line calls.
6.D.5. No player should question an opponent’s call unless asked (except that any player may appeal a call to the referee in an officiated match). A player should ask the opponent’s opinion if the opponent was in a better position to see the call. An opponent’s opinion, if requested, should be accepted. The opinion of a player looking down the line is more likely to be accurate than one looking across the line.
6.D.6. Don’t call a ball “out” when you are looking across the line unless you can clearly see the space between the line and the ball as it hits. The player’s depth of field judgment, based on the laws of parallax, prevent accurate judgment in these cases.
6.D.7. All “let” or “out” calls must be made “instantly”; otherwise the ball is presumed good and still in play. “Instantly” is defined as calling “let” or “out” prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before it has gone out of play.
6.D.8. Any ball that cannot be called “out” is presumed to be “in.” The player cannot claim a“let” (replay) because the ball was not seen. The opponent’s opinion can be requested, and, if the opponent says the ball was “in” or the opponent could not see it, the ball must be declared “in.”
6.D.9. Players should not request a “let” (replay) because they were not sure the ball was “out” or “in.” In this case, benefit of the doubt goes to the opponent.
6.D.10. In doubles play, if one player calls the ball “out” and the partner calls it “in,” then doubt exists, and the ball must be declared “in” (except that any player may appeal a call to the referee in an officiated match).
6.D.11. Line calls should be promptly signaled by hand or voice, regardless of how obvious they may
6.D.12. If, while the ball is in the air, a player yells “out,” “no,” “bounce it,” or any other word to communicate to his or her partner that the ball may be out, it shall be considered player communication. If the ball lands in, play will continue. If the out call is made after the ball has hit the playing surface, it shall be considered a line call and play shall stop.
(revised April 1, 2011)
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See you on the courts!