Rule Refresher – Line Call Rules & Etiquette

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
seem.
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)

Become a member of the USAPA today and receive a free rule book – http://www.usapa.org/usapa-membership/  or purchase one at the USAPA store – https://usapa.org/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=50

See you on the courts!

Marsha

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8 thoughts on “Rule Refresher – Line Call Rules & Etiquette

  1. Question on the following rule

    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

    So a ball only has to be half out to be out ? Touching the line is out ????

    Totally different then paddle and tennis

    Thanks Karla

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Hi Karla,
    “Touching” is the key word. If you notice in the rule it states “overlaps”. If a Pickleball hits and the axis of the ball is outside the line the side of the ball could be “overlapping” the line, however the ball is out. So technically the ball is not “touching” the line but rather overlaps the line. Does that make sense? Any ball touching the line is in. Hope that helps! Miss seeing you on the courts.

  3. Hi Marsha,

    6B and 6C seem to conflict. What does overlap mean…..is it touching the line??? See I do read your emails.

    thanks, Don

    On Sat, Mar 1, 2014 at 7:24 AM, Toledo Pickleball wrote:

    > Pickleball Club of Greater Toledo posted: “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 “

  4. Hi Don,
    So honored to hear you take the time to read my ramblings. I was ask this same question by another reader. Overlap means the axis of the ball has landed outside the line, making the ball out. However because the ball in Pickleball is hard, the ball doesn’t flatten out like a tennis ball would. So in some cases the ball could be called out but the side of the ball is actually overlapping the line making the ball appear to be in from certain angles, however the axis of the ball is outside the line. It makes it super hard to call the ball out and that is why the benefit of doubt goes to the opponent and also why it can be difficult for a player/partner to call any line accurately. When in doubt and unless you see clear space between the ball and the line, the call should be in. Hope that helps! When are you coming down to Toledo again! Miss seeing you.

  5. Marsha….wished you to know how I/We appreciate these Rule Refresher blurbs and that they are forwarded to PB ers here in the central Virginia area. Keep up the great devotion and work!
    Roger in Virginia

  6. Hi Roger, So glad my posts are beneficial to your group! Thanks for the kind words and hope to see you up in Toledo again this year. Take care
    Marsha

  7. I was playing that other day and a ball was clearly out, but play continued, then after the point was decided, it was then called out, and someone stated that after it is played twice, the call can not be reversed. Is this played twice mentioned in the rule book? Rick Rowland Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2014 12:24:13 +0000 To: rick5385@hotmail.com

  8. Hi Rick,
    No I am not aware of any “after it is played twice” statement in the rule book. Here is what I would base my answer on. 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.

    Hope that helps!

    Good question!

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