Wheelchair Pickleball Rules: Court Size and How to Play

Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Pickleball is a sport for everyone, regardless of age, race, belief, and ability. Being the country’s governing body, USA Pickleball does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. With this, the pickleball wheelchair is an approved format.

To make pickleball adaptable to people on wheelchairs, USA Pickleball slightly modified the playing rules and court size. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the history and rules of wheelchair pickleball.

What is Wheelchair Pickleball?

As the name implies, wheelchair pickleball is a division in the sport specifically designed for players in wheelchairs. It is played where one or more players on the pickleball court are in a wheelchair. Thanks to the effort of Myrtle Beach Pickleball Club president Jim Loving, USA Pickleball decided to approve it as a sanctioned format. Most of the rules in standing pickleball are used in wheelchair pickleball.

Wheelchair Pickleball History

In the 2021 Pickleball Fireball podcast, pickleball tournament director Jim Loving shared how wheelchair pickleball started. According to him, he was playing pickleball in Myrtle Beach, South Atlanta, sometime in 2018 when he first met a wheelchair pickleball player from Canada. Jim said he was amazed at the player, who happened to be a tennis player, before he got injured.

Loving worked hard to have a separate division for pickleball players in wheelchairs. Along the way, he met several wheelchair pickleball players, including Joe Dowling, who eventually became the wheelchair pickleball ambassador. The first sanctioned wheelchair pickleball event was held during the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Myrtle Beach.

How Big is a Wheelchair Pickleball Court?

According to Section 2.A.4 of the 2024 USA Pickleball Official Rulebook, the recommended dimensions for a wheelchair pickleball court are 44 x 74 feet (13.41 x 22.55 m). It is longer than a standard pickleball court, which has dimensions of 20 feet (6.10 m) wide by 44 feet (13.41 m) long. For a stadium court, the recommended size for wheelchair play is 50 x 80 feet (15.24 x 24.38 m).

Wheelchair Pickleball Rules

There are a few differences between wheelchair pickleball and standard pickleball regarding the rules. As expected, these adaptive rules are designed to make the sport comfortable and fair to players in wheelchairs. Here they are:

Serve Rule

During the serve in standing pickleball, at least one foot of the server must be on the playing surface behind the baseline. Neither foot should touch the court on or inside the baseline. For players in wheelchairs, the rear wheels should be on the playing surface behind the baseline while serving. They must not also touch the court on or inside the baseline or outside the imaginary extensions of the sideline or centerline.

Double Bounce Rule

In standing pickleball, the double-bounce rule means that players (serving and receiving side) should allow the ball to bounce once before returning it to the other side of the court. But in wheelchair pickleball, players may allow the ball to bounce twice on the same side before returning it. The second bounce can also land anywhere on the playing surface.

Kitchen Rules

In standing pickleball, volleying is not allowed in the non-volley zone (NVZ). A player’s momentum (continued motion) should also not bring the player into the kitchen during a volley. It includes any item that touches the player, such as apparel and the paddle. Otherwise, the player commits a fault.

In wheelchair pickleball, the back wheels of a player’s wheelchair must not be in the NVZ while volleying. Otherwise, that wheelchair player will commit a fault. Hence, that player can only volley if the back wheels are outside the kitchen. The front wheels may touch the kitchen during a volley, though.

Sanctioned Tournament Policies

In wheelchair pickleball, tournaments are played in singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. Players using wheelchairs may play with or against standing partners or wheelchair doubles. In such cases, the players in wheelchairs should abide by the wheelchair pickleball rules. At the same time, the standing players should follow the rules of standing pickleball.

Final Thoughts

Wheelchair pickleball has its own special space in the sport, and several clubs are dedicated to players in wheelchairs. Every year, this division is also included in major pickleball events, such as the US Open. In fact, the upcoming 2024 Minto US Open Pickleball Championships added wheelchair pickleball singles events for (4.0 and above and 3.5 and below). No wonder pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Reading

Go To Blog
About Us
Picklepow started when a group of friends came together over a shared bond – Pickleball! After playing for years, they created a resource to teach others and connect them to courts across the country. Need a new hobby? You might've just found it!
© 2024 Picklepow – All Rights Reserved
Affiliate Disclaimer
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram