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Who Can Call Kitchen Foot Faults?

Who Can Call Kitchen Foot Faults?

Calling a foot fault may seem pretty basic, but actually quite a few questions have been raised with a little controversy. With help from the USAPA Rules Chair, we wanted to help clarify the issue. This information is only needed when you’re playing without a referee, but it will get you into better shape for when you do play in a tournament or in league play where referees are present.

Just to be clear, we’re only going to go over who calls foot faults and why it’s helpful. We’re not going to get into the details of the non-volley zone rules itself. So, let’s break it down one step at a time.

Many people think the non-volley zone, or the kitchen as it’s commonly called, includes the 3-D space, or the air space, above the court. Actually, the non-volley zone is only the 2-D, flat surface on the court itself, which includes the lines all the way to their very edges. Kitchen faults are only related to making physical contact with the surface itself.

In the USAPA rule book, when there are no referees or line judges present, each player makes his or her own line calls. This has led some people to believe that only you are allowed to make a call on anything on your side of the court. However, a foot fault is not a line call, and it falls under a separate category. Therefore, kitchen foot faults are open so that either team can make the call. And, if we’re honest, the opponent may have a better view of whether or not I committed a foot fault because I’m concentrating on the ball.

Even though the opponent can call the foot fault, we have to remember that pickleball is a sport of integrity and good sportsmanship. We want to focus on playing the game and improving everyone’s level of play and not just calling foot faults in order to win. If there is a disagreement, be polite. Don’t get into a big argument. Just agree to replay the point. You can either call a foot fault as it happens, or let the point finish and then call it. Also, be sensitive to throwing off someone’s game play by continuously calling foot faults. The purpose for calling foot faults in recreational play is to improve the game for everyone.

How does calling foot faults help improve your game? Well, when we call each other’s foot faults, we learn better body position and muscle memory. We learn how far forward we can go on the court and where to place our feet. Then, when it really counts, as in a tournament or league play, we are already practiced and prepared to not commit foot faults. Also, if you need help, ask somebody who is waiting to play to be a kitchen judge. If we help each other in practice, then we all help elevate the sport itself.

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