Pickleball rule changes for 2024

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Brandon Mackie

Updated on: Jan 8, 2024

Graphic showing the USA Pickleball logo with the words 'Pickleball Rule Changes 2024'

2024 is upon us and with the new year comes an update to the official USA Pickleball rulebook, reflecting a number of pickleball rule changes. Last year's updates saw the banning of the pre-spun serve, as well as new rules on what players can wear on court.

This year sees 27 suggestions for rule changes being implemented, most of which are minor clarifications to existing rules. In this article, I'll just be looking at the headlines—the main pickleball rule changes that you need to know going forward.

Pickleball rule changes for 2024

In 2024, seven noteworthy rule changes were approved.

Correcting server, receiver & player position errors (4.B.9)

To prevent play from being interrupted by error calls during a rally, it's now the referee's duty to correct any position errors before play begins.

This means if any player is out of place, such as with their foot on the line, it's the referee's responsibility to highlight and correct this before the serve is taken.

Previously, players could call a position error mid-rally, which would result in a fault for the offending player, if confirmed. Now, such faults (incorrect server, incorrect receiver, player position errors) no longer count as faults, and no calls can be made mid-rally.

Brandon Mackie preparing to serve in a game of pickleball
Brandon Mackie preparing to serve in a game of pickleball

In fact, if a player calls out an error mid-rally, they themselves now receive a fault.

If a position error is identified mid-rally, then the referee can call for a rally replay. Any position errors identified after a rally has finished are inconsequential, meaning it's too late and play continues with no fault.

This rule was actually implemented early in August 2023, and allows play to flow better without interruptions.

Draping net (2.C.6/11.L.5.b)

Sometimes a pickleball net hangs awkwardly and part of it lays on the playing surface. This happens more commonly with portable pickleball nets, but can also occur occasionally with permanent nets too.

This is known as a "draping net" and it causes a frustrating situation when a ball hits it and play is affected.

Previously, when this situation occurred, it was up to a referee to decide if play had really been affected or not. The 2024 rule update states that any time a ball touches a draping net, it's a replay—no questions asked.

Catch or carry ball on the paddle (7.L)

In pickleball, the ball cannot be caught or carried on the paddle for any duration of time. A "carry" is when the ball doesn't bounce away from the paddle but instead sticks to it and carries along the paddle face. The ball must bounce off the paddle face, no matter how well controlled or soft.

Up until 2024, it was up to the referee to determine if a player had caught or carried a pickleball on their paddle deliberately. If they decided it was a genuine mistake, then no fault was given.

Brandon Mackie swinging to hit the ball in a game of pickleball
Brandon Mackie swinging to hit the ball in a game of pickleball

The new rule states that catching or carrying the ball on your paddle is always a fault, whether you mean to do it or not. Note that a carry is different from a double-hit. A "double-hit" occurs when you hit the ball twice in a continuous, single-direction stroke. That is still legal.

Conceding a rally (13.E.4/13.E.5)

In the heat of play, it can be hard to tell if a call lands in or out, without the use of action-replay cameras, or electronic line call systems. Even the machines can get it wrong, as famously happened in an Australian Open tennis match in 2023.

In pickleball, if a player thinks a line judge has called a ball "out" incorrectly in their favor, they can speak up and say they think it was "in".

This means they're being honest, and even though the line judge's decision would have benefited their team, they want it to be known that they think the ball was "in". In this situation, the serve is replayed.

The amendment to section 13.E.5 simply states that the player who was honest can now choose to concede the point, instead of allowing a replay. This happens when the player knows that they wouldn't have been able to return the ball anyway, so would have lost the point regardless.

Section 13.E.4 is almost identical. If a referee believes a line judge got the "out" call wrong, they can allow the team who benefitted from that incorrect call to simply concede the point and admit they wouldn't have been able to return the "in" ball anyway.

This one is a small, technical change that promotes fair play and honesty in the game.

Medical time-outs (10.B.2.c)

In the official pickleball rules, a player or team is entitled to two 1-minute time-outs for an 11- or 15-point game. Then, for a 21-point game, they get three 1 minute time-outs. If a player needs medical attention, they are also entitled to a 15 minute time-out.

The new rules in 2024 state that players needing medical attention can now add their standard time-outs to a medical time-out. This means that in a 21-point game, they can take a total of 18 minutes before they are forced to retire from the match.

Paddle specifications (2.E.2/2.E.5.a/2.E.5.c)

With paddle tech advancing every year, rulemakers are struggling to keep up with new innovations. I know how they feel—I tested over 50 paddles last year for my paddle reviews, and it's not easy to keep up with all the new features and designs that paddle makers dream up.

For 2024, USA Pickleball updated the allowable paddle specifications to "address new and emerging paddle technology and features and to clarify the alterations that players are allowed to make to certified paddles".

For example, section 2.E.2 had a clause added to the end, shown in bold here: "The paddle's hitting surface shall not contain delamination, holes, cracks, rough textures, or indentations that break the paddle skin or surface, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart excessive spin on the ball."

USA Pickleball are being extra careful to keep up with trends in paddle modifications. They specify that decals and lead tape added to the grip or paddle edge cannot extend onto the playing surface (1" from the grip, or ½" in from the edge).

They also clarify that adding any after-market anti-skid paints or extra surfaces to your paddle will make them illegal. They even specify that no moving parts can be added to a paddle that will increase its momentum and power.

They’re clearly trying to preempt any trickery that players might come up with to give them an advantage on the courts.

Mini-singles (12.O)

Often known as "skinny singles" in pickleball, mini-singles is a two-player variation of the game that uses only half the court. USA Pickleball made this format official in 2024, incorporating mini-singles rules into the official Rulebook.

How are pickleball rule changes decided?

First, let's take a look at how the rules get changed each year.

How are rule changes submitted?

One of the great things about pickleball is that rule changes begin with suggestions from real players in the pickleball community.

All USA Pickleball members can submit their suggestions for rule changes on the USA Pickleball website. Going into 2024, there were 92 suggested change submissions, of which 27 were accepted.

How are changes evaluated and reviewed?

Once the suggested rule changes are listed on the USA Pickleball website, the pickleball community has a chance to submit their comments.

At the end of the comment period, the USA Pickleball Rules Committee reviews these new pickleball rule suggestions. At this point, proposed changes are either approved to continue in the process, rejected, or revised.

Who is on the USA Pickleball Rules Committee?

The rule change process for pickleball is democratic and community-oriented, but the final word on official rules comes from the USA Pickleball Rules Committee.

USA Pickleball ultimately decides who to put on this committee. Nominations are made by existing Rules Committee members, the National Certified Referee Evaluator Committee (NCREC), and USA Pickleball Regional Directors.

Once rules changes are approved by the committee, a final decision is made by the USA Pickleball Board of Directors.

Bottom line

That just about wraps up my highlights of 2024's pickleball rules changes. Whether you're a serious competitor or just play for fun at your local courts, it's a good idea to keep up to date with the rules of the game.

If you have any questions or comments for me about the 2024 pickleball rule updates, reach out on the Pickleheads socials. We always love hearing from you. In the meantime, check out some sessions on your nearest courts.

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Recent updates

January 2024

With the new pickleball rules for 2024 released, I revisited this article and updated it with all the new information about what each of the rule changes means for your game.


About the author
Brandon Mackie
Brandon is an avid writer and co-founder of Pickleheads™. Once a competitive tennis player, Brandon can now be found these days honing his dinks on pickleball courts near Phoenix, Arizona.
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