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2024 Pickleball Rules Changes and Updates You Need to Know

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The 2024 USA Pickleball Rulebook is now available! Just in time for the new year.

Out of the 92 rule change suggestions, 27 of them were approved. The new changes and updates are mainly for clarification and reformatting and don't impact significant gameplay.

As the governing body of pickleball, USA Pickleball allows its members to submit their suggestions to change the sport's official rules. The USA Pickleball Rules Committee and the USAP Board of Directors are in charge of voting, which will be approved or declined.

Pickleball Rules Changes for 2024

Here are the most significant changes and updates in the pickleball rules for 2024. As you read them, you'll notice that USA Pickleball is doing its best to avoid disputes and protect its players and the integrity of the sport.

#1 Correcting Server, Receiver, and Player Position Errors (4.B.9)

2023 Rules: Section 4.B.8 allows players to ask the referee if they are in the correct position.

2024 Rules: The referee is now responsible for correcting player position errors before calling the score. If a player is realized to be in the wrong position once the rally is played, Sections 4.B.9.a and 4.B.9.b will be applied.

Section 4.B.9.a. If the referee or a player stops a rally in progress to correctly identify a player/position error, the rally shall be replayed. If a player stops a rally and incorrectly identifies a player/position error, it is the fault of the player who stopped the rally. If the referee stops a rally in progress and incorrectly identifies a player/position error, the rally shall be replayed.

Section 4.B.9.b. If a player/position error is identified after the rally has played out, the rally shall stand.

Note: Rule 4.B.9 is the main rule text, but other related rules have been modified or deleted to correlate with this change.

Effect: Since players in the wrong position will now be corrected, faults for such actions are eliminated.

#2 Catch or Carry Ball on the Paddle (7.L)

2023 Rules: Section 7.L states that there is a fault if "A player deliberately carrying or catching the ball on the paddle while performing the serve or during a rally." 

Section 11.A states that "Balls can be hit twice, but this must occur during an unintentional, continuous, single-direction stroke by one player. If the stroke made while performing the serve or during a rally is deliberately not continuous, or not in a single direction, or the ball is struck by a second player, it is a fault."

2024 Rules: Sections 7.L and 11.A now do not include the words "deliberately" and "unintentional."

Effect: The deciding factor of whether these actions are deliberate or not is now removed. Therefore, carrying a ball on the paddle is now automatically a fault, whether intentional or not. On the other hand, a double hit is still legal, provided that it's done continuously and in a single-direction stroke, whether intentionally or not.

#3 Medical Time-Outs (10.B.2.c)

2023 Rules: Section 10.B.2.a states that "The time-out must be continuous and may be up to 15 minutes. If the player uses fewer than 15 minutes, the remaining time is lost, and no additional medical time will be available to the player during the match."

Section 10.B.2.b states that "If the player cannot resume play after the 15-minute medical time-out period, the match will be declared a retirement."

2024 Rules: Section 10.B.2.a now states that "The time-out must be continuous and shall not exceed 15 minutes. If medical treatment is rendered off-court at another location at the venue, the time to transport the player to and from the off-court location shall be excluded from the 15-minute time period."

Section 10.B.2.c is added to combine some parts of 10.B.a and 10.B.2.b and added that "The player may use their available regular timeouts after the medical timeout has expired to allow more time before the match must be retired."

Effect: Players who need medical attention will have more time to rest before deciding whether the match will continue or be retired.

#4 Paddle Specifications (2.E.2/2.E.5.a/2.E.5.c)

2023 Rules: Section 2.E.2 states "The paddle's hitting surface shall not contain delamination, holes, cracks or indentations that break the paddle skin or surface."

2024 Rules: Add "or any objects or features that allow a player to impart excessive spin on the ball" on the last part of Section 2.E.2.

Section 2.E.5.a now states that "Player alterations or additions to a commercially produced paddle as certified, may include items such as edge guard tape/replacements, weighted tape, weights for an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) integrated weight system, changes to the grip size via inserts, grip wraps, OEM interchangeable grips, OEM replacement paddle faces, and name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face."

Section 2.E.5.c now states that "The only permissible handwritten pen markings allowed on the paddle's playing surface must be for identification purposes only (name, signature, phone, email address). No aftermarket graphics are allowed on a commercially made paddle."

For the prohibited alterations, Section 2.E.6.e of the 2023 rules was removed. It states that there should be "No removable parts except for paddle grip adjustments and/or grip wraps and lead tape on the paddle edge."

Effect: The paddle specifications are now aligned with the latest technology.

#5 Use Approved Paddles Only (2.F.1)

2023 Rules: Section 2.F.1.a.1 states that "If the violation is identified prior to the match starting, the player may switch to a paddle listed as Pass on the USA PICKLEBALL Approved Paddle List without penalty."

2024 Rules: "may" was replaced with "shall."

Effect: The use of unauthorized paddles will be prevented.

#6 Broken, Cracked, Degraded, or Soft Ball (11.E)

2023 Rules: Section 11.E states that

"If any player suspects the ball is or becomes cracked after the serve, play must continue until the end of the rally.

2024 Rules: Section 11.E now states that

"If any player suspects the ball is or becomes broken, cracked, degraded, or soft after the serve, play must continue until the end of the rally."

For non-officiated matches, the rule now states that "In only the case of a broken or cracked ball, if the players agree the cracked ball impacted the prior rally, a replay occurs."

Add "If both teams agree that the ball is degraded or soft, the ball will be replaced, but there is no replay of the prior rally" on the last part of the rule.

The title Broken or Cracked Ball was also changed to Broken, Cracked, Degraded, or Soft Ball.

Effect: Additional clarification of criteria in non-officiated matches.

#7 Change of Ends (5.B)

2023 Rules: Section 5.B.3 states that "In a match with two out of three games to 11 points, in game three, the teams will switch ends when the first team reaches a score of 6. Serve remains with the player holding serve."

2024 Rules Changes: Add "Exception: If the first game of such match was forfeited due to late arrival, the teams will not switch ends during game three" on the last part.

Effect: If the first game is forfeited, both players (or teams) will now have an equal chance of playing on both sides of the court.

#8 Conceding a Rally (13.E.4/13.E.5)

2023 Rules: Section 13.E.4 states that "Upon appeal, if a referee overrules a line judge's "out" call as "in," a replay will occur."

Section 13.E.5 states that "If a player disagrees with a line judge's "out" call that benefited their team, the player may overrule the "out" call as "in" per rule 6.D.13. A replay will occur."

2024 Rules: Section 13.E.4 added, "unless the team that benefited from the referee's call chooses to concede the rally" in the last part.

Section 13.E.5 added "unless the team that made the call to their detriment chooses to concede the rally" in the last part.

Effect: This can help prevent conflicts and arguments between players and referees.

#9 Draping Net (2.C.6/11.L.5.b)

2023 Rules: Section 2.C.6 states that "If the net drapes onto the court and such a configuration is not corrected by the tournament staff prior to the start of play, and if the referee deems a ball is affected by the draping net, it shall result in a replay."

2024 Rules: There should be a replay once the ball hits the net already on the ground.

Effect: There will no longer be confusion In officiated and non-officiated plays once the ball hits a draping net.

#10 Non-Officiated Play (13.L)

2023 Rules: No existing rule for paddle inspection in non-officiated matches.

2024 Rules Changes: Add Section 13.L.2.a

"If any player believes a paddle is not USAP approved or does not otherwise comply with all paddle rules, the player is allowed to summon the Head Referee or Tournament Director to determine if the paddle is legal for play."

Effect: Paddles in non-officiated matches will now be properly inspected before being allowed.

#11 Code of Ethics (6.C.12)

2023 Rules: Section 6.D.12 states that "after the completion of a rally, players may overrule a partner's line call, an officiating team's line call, or an opponent's "in" call to their disadvantage."

2024 Rules: Include players to override their line calls.

Note: Section 6.D is now 6.C since the line call rules were reduced to sections 6.A and 6B.

Effect: Players overruling their own line calls, even if it is to their disadvantage, helps promote sportsmanship in pickleball.

#12 Mini-Singles (12.O)

2023 Rules: Mini-singles is not included as an approved format. 

2024 Rules: Mini-singles (or skinny singles) is now an approved format. The specific rules governing mini-singles have been added to the official rulebook. Most are similar to singles, except players will only use half the court.

Related Post: USA Pickleball Updates Rule Changes Process for 2025

Will Pickleball Use Rally Scoring in 2024?

For years, there has been a debate as to whether pickleball should switch to the rally scoring system or keep on using the side-out scoring system. Last May, the USA Pickleball received a suggestion to use it for singles and as a provisional rule for doubles. As a response, the USA Pickleball Rules Committee voted it as passed with modification. On the other hand, the body's Board of Directors holds it for further study.

According to the rules committee, rally scoring seems to be effective in singles and should be considered an option, depending on the decision of tournament directors. The committee added that it's better to adopt rally scoring as a provisional rule in doubles in 2024. Once it is proven effective, the rules may be applied in the mid-year revision. But again, there's nothing final yet. Let's see how USA Pickleball will decide on this in its mid-year revision.

Related Post: 2024 PPA Pickleball Serve Rules Changes vs USAP Rules

Final Thoughts

While most of the approved suggestions for the 2024 pickleball rules can be considered minor, you should still follow them. Among them, I totally agree with the changes made in the fault rules and for making sure that players will only use paddles approved by USA Pickleball. How about you? Are you in favor of the changes made? Do you have other suggestions to help improve the sport? Let me know in the comments below.

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W Dunn
W Dunn
4 months ago

Are double hits still legal? Is a double hit considered a carry. Not clear

Michael Wellington
Michael Wellington
4 months ago
Reply to  Angel Cuala

My interpretation of the double hit rule is that it has always been legal; Section 11.A states that “Balls can be hit twice, -

John O. Grimley
John O. Grimley
3 months ago

As a nationally certified pb coach for several years, I have been teaching both the regular serve and the drop serve along with rally scoring.
Concerning:

  1. Serving: As so many people learn pb from friends who learn it from friends, and so on, 90% of everyone who uses the regular serve are side-arming it (top of paddle head above the wrist) and ball contact often above the waist. A mandatory drop-serve would immediately take care of all this as a./ no bounce on the drop serve goes higher than the waist, and b./ it matters not where the paddle head is relative to the wrist.
  2. Rally Scoring: It wasn't too long ago that volleyball went from serve-only-scoring to rally scoring. What a beneficial and exciting change that was. Volleyball hasn't been the same since then and has never looked back. I can see the same for pickleball as it a./rewards good play no matter which side of the net you are on, b./keeps each and every point up-front-and-center, c./it actually makes for a greater, concentrated overall workout, and d,/ the length of each game and match is far more consistent time-wise.
  3. I have been finding out that once all of my intermediate and advance students are introduced to rally scoring, they also do not want to look back to the former but are forced to as other places and people are either uninformed or just do not want to do it as they have done it the regular way for years so why change now? That is the way volleyball players were until the rally rule went into effect and now everyone, even the fans, love it!

If I have a vote: I vote for both the permanent installation of only the drop serve and only rally scoring. Rally scoring games are far more exciting than non-rally scoring games. The drop serve would do away with close to 100% of all illegal serves.

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