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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Answers to Rules Quiz - Serve

1. Jimmy has an extremely successful service game. He has mastered the art of hitting his serve deep into his opponent's court. This typically is sufficient since it keeps his opponent on the defensive. But that isn't enough for Jimmy. He wants to win the point outright on his serve, so he has been practicing a new power serve. The power serve requires changing his service motion to hit the ball with a sidearm style in order to the ball harder. In a game with John and Margy, he hits a serve so hard that John cannot react in time and the ball blows right by him for a service winner. Jimmy is pleased with himself...until Margy claims that Jimmy used an illegal serve with his sidearm motion. Who is right?

Answer: It depends. Sidearm style alone is not against the rules. The rule in question is the position of the paddle head relative to the wrist. The pictured serve, while sidearm, is within the rules. See the below Pickleball Channel video called The Power Serve with Slow Motion for a serve that looks questionable at full speed but is allowable when viewed in slow motion.

Rule 4.A.1 - The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball (paddle head is that part of the paddle excluding handle. The highest point of the paddle head cannot be above any part of line formed where the wrist joint bends).

Comment: The reality is that this is a call that is not allowed to be made by an opposing team. The rule is clear and is intended to prevent an unfair advantage being created by an illegal serve. But the sidearm motion of a power serve is too quick to determine the exact position of the paddle head relative to the wrist. An opponent should mention it to the server when an obvious violation occurs but no change of results would occur. It becomes more a question of etiquette than a point-changing ruling. The friendly nature of he game means players should make every effort to abide by the rules and not to create unfair advantages.


2. Jimmy's power serve is effective, but can be a little wild. Jimmy's opponents sometimes try to intimidate Jimmy by having the non-returner stand near the front inside corner of the service court to force Jimmy to hit his serve wide. Other teams use the opposite approach by having the non-returner stand outside the court. That is the strategy used by John and Margy. John, a big man who is a little slow-footed, stands 3 feet outside the sideline. Jimmy cranks up one of his hardest and wildest serves ever...and promptly hits John right in his forehead. While not the way he expected to win, Jimmy is jubilant that he won the point because he hit an opponent with his serve. John claims that Jimmy can't possibly win on a serve that hits anywhere out of bounds. Who is right?

Answer: Jimmy is right and wins the point.  Two separate rules could cover the situation but the specific rule on service interference is most appropriate.

Rule 4.C.2 - Interference. If the serve clears the net and the receiver or the receiver’s partner interferes with the flight of the ball on the serve, it is a point for the serving team.


3. After he saw the success of his power serve, Jimmy wanted to add to his repertoire with a soft short serve. Jimmy was effectively mixing his regular serve, power serve, and and short serve against Margy and John. He was winning his serve with outright winners and return faults. Then Jimmy hit a short serve to John that landed on John's kitchen line. John could not get to the ball and Jimmy thought he had yet another winner. But Margy claimed the serve was out. Jimmy said all lines are considered in-bounds. Was Jimmy right?

Answer: No, Jimmy is wrong. Margy and John win the rally.

Rule 6.A - Served balls that clear the non-volley line and land on any other service court line are good.

1 comment:

  1. I paused the slow motion video when the paddle hits the ball. It appears to me that the paddle head is above the wrist when contacting the ball.