September 16, 2022
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By Bob Unetich
Q. If a player steps outside of the sideline to attempt an Erne, is it a fault if their shoe contacts the support arm on a temporary net?
A. The net post supports are part of most temporary net systems, and under Rule 7.G, touching any part of the net system when the ball is “live” is a fault.
Q. At a recent tournament, I noticed that center court had a net with a substantial horizontal bar between the net posts. The bottom of the net was touching this bar, and a ball that rolled over the net hit the bottom of the net as it fell but it did not touch the bar itself. Should that result in a replay since the bar may have influenced the ability of a player to return the ball back over the net?
A. A horizontal bar of any type can influence the flight of a ball that trickles over a net. Rule 11.L.5.b. specifically says, “If the ball goes over the net and hits the center base, or any part of the horizontal bar, or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar, a replay will be called.” It is “fair” to consider hitting the bar through the net as another way that ball flight may be impacted by a metal bar. Therefore, a replay would be in order.
Q. Does a ball have to bounce in the non-volley zone before a player enters the zone, or can the ball bounce anywhere in the court?
A. It is a common misconception that the ball must first bounce in the NVZ before entering the NVZ. In fact, the ball can bounce anywhere on the court. Rules 9.E through 9.H are the appropriate references. Interestingly, the ball doesn’t even have to bounce. For example, Player A can be standing in the NVZ while their partner, Player B, volleys the ball from outside the NVZ. There are, of course, several restrictions with the NVZ related to volleying the ball. Those are provided in Rules 9.B through 9.D. •
As we get closer to the new year, some readers have asked what rule changes are being considered by USA Pickleball for 2023. The reality is that the process is very transparent these days and you may wish to find and read all the proposals for rule changes yourself.
USA Pickleball publishes a database on its web site called the New Rulebook Database or NRD. You can easily find it at rules.usapickleball.org and it will provide you with the current status of the rule changes pending.
At this time, there are 78 proposed changes and the window for making comments on these proposed changes closed July 15. During July, the Rules Committee reviewed the proposed rule changes and as of this writing they are making their way through the approval process.
The editing process is expected to be completed by Sept. 15 and the final recommended rule changes are forwarded to the USA Pickleball Board of Directors for final approval in October. Once again, the NRD is updated, and anyone can check the web pages to read the changes approved by the board.
Next, the Rulebook is edited and proofed and published by Dec. 1. This provides players a month to become familiar with the changes that will happen on Jan. 1. Revised Rulebooks are usually available within two weeks of the new year.