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Friday, May 4, 2018

Rules Clarification - Reaching Across the Net

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

The Senior Games started on Thursday in my county. I wanted to get some referee practice so, instead of playing, I reffed 5 matches. Nothing of note came up in my games, but a separate unofficiated singles game had a play that often raises questions. It was a ball hit with enough spin that it crossed back over the net from the receiver's side to the hitter's side. The receiver reached across the net and the ball without touching the net.

Mark Renneson has a good video titled Pickleball Rules: Over and Back explaining the shot.

A couple of notes about the video are very important, though. The video was made available prior to the most recent rules changes. The rule cited by Mark in the video remains the same but is in a different section. The entire rule is:
11.I. Plane of the Net. After striking the ball, a player or anything the player is/was wearing or carrying may cross the plane of the net or the imaginary extension line of the net beyond the posts but may not touch any part of the net system or the opponent’s court.11.I.1. Exception. If the ball bounces into a player’s non-volley zone with enough backspin as to cause it to return over the net, the player may reach over or around the net to hit the ball but may not touch the net system or the opponent’s court.

More importantly, the tactic Mark shows by hitting the ball into the opponent's side of the net can be problematic with temporary nets and the new rules. The prior rules said that a ball hitting the horizontal pipe remains in play. I explained this in Rules Clarification - Temporary Net Frames. The new rules state that hitting the horizontal pipe on the opponent's side is a let. In other words, a formerly near-certain rally win becomes a replay. The new rule:
11.L.5. When net systems have a horizontal bar that includes a center base: If the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base before going over the net, it is a fault. If the ball goes over the net and hits the center base or the horizontal bar or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar before touching the court, it is a let and will be replayed.

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