Pickleball Technical Warnings, Fouls, and Match Forfeit

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

Pickleball is known for being one of the friendliest sports, with players just there to enjoy the game. However, some players occasionally succumb to their emotions and do the unthinkable - committing a technical foul. 

When such an incident arises, the referee has to take action. Although we hope this will not happen, below is the complete list of technical warnings and fouls and the corresponding penalties.

Technical Warning vs Technical Foul: What’s the Difference?

In pickleball, a technical warning is a verbal warning issued by the referee to a player in response to a rule or behavioral violation. It is important to note that no points are deducted or awarded in connection with a technical warning. However, if a second technical warning is called to the same player or team in the same game for any reason, the referee will then call a technical foul on that player or team.

Meanwhile, a technical foul signifies a more severe behavioral transgression of a player or team. According to Section 13.G.3.c of the 2024 USA Pickleball Rulebook, a technical foul results in a one-point deduction from the offending team. If their score is zero, a point will be added to the opposing team. Afterward, the game shall continue, and the technical warning (or technical foul) will not affect the server change or side out.

Player’s Actions That Lead to a Technical Warning

Below is the summarized list of actions that can lead to a technical warning, according to Section 13.G.1.

  • Objectionable or inappropriate language directed at another person inside the court. It includes the officiating team, other players, referees, and spectators.
  • Profanity, whether vocal or hand gestures. Note, however, that the referee can decide whether the profanity should result in a technical warning.
  • Disrupting the play by aggressively arguing with anyone inside the court or excessive questioning against the referee’s decision
  • Pickleball abuse, including breaking the pickleball ball intentionally by stepping on it or throwing it between rallies
  • Delaying the game by calling a medical time-out without a valid reason and still with a remaining time-out
  • Challenging a referee’s ruling and losing the challenge, despite the correct ruling and with a remaining time-out
  • Receiving coaching from anyone except his partner during a live ball
  • Other minor unsportsmanlike behaviors, such as repeated questioning of overruled calls.

Player’s Actions That Result in a Technical Foul

Below is the summarized list of actions that can result in a technical foul, according to Section 13.G.2.

  • Aggressively throwing a paddle with negligence, regardless of the reason, even if it did not hit any person or property
  • Aggressively throwing a pickleball ball with negligence, irrespective of the reason, and eventually hitting a person
  • Extreme profanity or objectionable language, regardless of whether it is directed at another person, an object, or an event
  • Threatening or challenging another person in a fight
  • Calling a medical time-out without a valid reason and without a time-out remaining
  • Challenging a referee’s ruling and losing the challenge, with no more available time-out
  • Other extreme unsportsmanlike behaviors

Reasons for Referee to Declare a Match Forfeit

Below is the summarized list of incidents when a pickleball referee can declare a match forfeit, according to Sections 13.H and I.

  • When a player or team has a technical warning and then receives a technical foul
  • When a player or team has a technical foul and then receives another technical foul or a technical warning.
  • When a player or team fails to report to the pickleball court 15 minutes after the match is called
  • If a match is one game to 15 or 21, and when a player or team fails to report to the pickleball court within 10 minutes after the play is called
  • If a match is 2-out-of-3 or 3-out-of-5, and when a player or team fails to report to the pickleball court within 10 minutes after the play is called
  • When a player intentionally makes aggressive physical contact with an opponent, tournament official, or spectator
  • When a player aggressively throws a paddle or hits a ball, and it endangers any person or property

Note: The Tournament Director may allow a longer delay, depending on the difficulty level to decide.

Reasons for Tournament Director to Impose a Match Forfeit

The pickleball tournament director may impose a match forfeit if a player or team shows misconduct or fails to comply with the tournament or host facility’s rules. They also have the power to eject a player for excessive misbehavior, which includes the following:

  • Insulting a person’s physical appearance, race, religion, and sexual orientation
  • Coughing or spitting on another person
  • Deliberately causing physical Injury to any person
  • Showing intentional poor performance for whatever reason

Related Post: Pickleball Rules on Match Retirement, Withdrawal, and Forfeit

Final Thoughts

Generally speaking, camaraderie and sportsmanship prevail in pickleball. Nonetheless, technical warnings and fouls, with their corresponding penalties, are necessary to maintain the integrity of the sport. As a player, you should always keep calm in every situation. After all, these rules not only uphold the spirit of the game but also allow everyone to enjoy pickleball to the fullest. At the end of the day, respect is the key.

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