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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rules Clarification - Player Positioning and Serve

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius...

I recently wrote about my first experience refereeing a match at the Connestee Falls tournament. After that article, I wanted to highlight some of the situations that arose during my games as a referee. One of those situations was confusion about player positioning after a mid-game end change. In the article Rules Clarification - Player Positioning, I discussed the key to player positioning as:
The simple key is to remember that players will be positioned on their starting side when their score is an even number and positioned on their non-starting side when their score is an odd number.
But that scenario answers only half of the questions for a serving team. The second question is about which player is the proper server.

The above key tells us which court should be the proper position for each player when their score is even and the proper position when their score is odd. But a player can be either server #1 or server #2 from both courts. The player's server number is dependent on the team's score to start the service rotation. Let's look at some examples based on the following positions to start the game.

Player 1 is server 2 to start the game and will start in the right court for each new service rotation when the team has an even score. For example, Team 1-2 trails 4-5 and wins a rally resulting in a side-out for Team 3-4. The serve moves to Team 1-2. Since Team 1-2's score is an even number the player who started in the right court (Player 1) is Server 1.

But let's change the scenario by 1 point. Team 1-2 is tied 5-5 and wins a rally resulting in a side-out for Team 3-4. The serve moves to Team 1-2. Since Team 1-2's score is an odd number the player who started in the left court (Player 2) is now positioned in his non-starting side and is Server 1.

When Team 1-2 subsequently lose a rally, the serve rotates to Player 1 who is Server 2. His server number has no relationship to the side of the court from which he serves. Server number is dependent on the order within the rotation with the rotation established by the team's score (odd or even) to start the sequence.

It can get confusing. It gets even more confusing when teams use stacking or other switching of courts during play. There are 2 important elements that are used to determine the server - starting position at the beginning of the game and starting position to start the service rotation, which is set by the odd-even score.

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