Column: Rules of pickleball can often confuse new players

'Paddle Up'

A pickleball in the air after it is hit is always good until it hits something or somebody. What matters is  how it is stuck and where it goes and what it strikes.

If you stop to think about it that is true about many sports such as football, tennis, basketball, for example.  In  tennis for example if a ball lands with less than half of the ball on the outer line of the side line  it can be called in. Not in pickleball. 

Tennis is a softer ball than a hard plastic pickleball and has a compression of more than a third of a pickleball.  If a pickleball does not strike the outer sideline edge of the court, with half of the ball it is out.  It has a smaller area of contact than a tennis ball. New tennis players learning pickleball tend to call it wrong every time until they get use to the new idea.

So in pickleball here are some of the basics and little known rules of the game.

On the serve it has to be stuck underhand or if the serve is side arm which racquet players love to, then the top of the paddle has to be below the wrist and the paddle must be moving in a upward  motion.  If the ball is stuck otherwise it is not a good serve.

There is some interesting lines on the court.  One is 7-foot  back of the net on each side of the net it is called the kitchen line or non-volley zone line.  Another is a centerline running from the kitchen line to the back of the court.  The line ends at what we call the baseline.

So if the ball is served it has to land in the opposite side of the court beyond the kitchen line on and not outside the sideline or base line.  

The stumper for most people is what happens if it lands on the centerline?  It is good.  

So far so good! 

If it lands correctly inside the area, the opponent has to wait till it bounces before he can strike it or it is not good.  Once returned, the ball has to bounce on the serving side anywhere in the court  before it can be returned again.  It is called the two bounce rule. 

Why such a rule?  The game was created in 1965  so kids could play with adults.  It takes power out of the game and it allows the  kids have a chance to hit the ball.

The other interesting thing is the area referred to above as the kitchen or the non-volley zone. That is a line 7-foot back of the net on each side. The ball cannot be hit as a volley in that area with one exception.  The ball has to bounce in the area before a player can step in the kitchen and hit it. 

Now the kitchen line is two dimensional  so you can lean in the area and hit a volley, but if you do volley it and your hat, teeth, hair piece, glasses, or foot touch the line or forward of it, it is not good.  Why?  Because they did not want kids being hit by adults or vice verse  with a paddle across the net.

Here are a few of the quirk rules and ideas in the game. You can hit the ball low around the net and if it goes in, it is good.  But if you have an outdoor net with space between the net and the post, and you hit it through the space and it lands on the other side, it is not good.  Only did it once.

What if it hits a hawk swooping over an outdoor court Lord forbid.  It is so rare there is no rule, but usually it is a replay to most folks after they take the hawk to the vet.

A couple more.  If the serve hits a receivers opponent it is a point for the serving team.  If anyone  catches a ball in flight which seems to be headed out, or is not even out, it is a point for the serving team. 

And one of my favorite ones, a ball can strike the paddle twice as long as the paddle is in a continuing motion.  That is a  good hit.

You can learn this basic game in 1 hour  in order to have a lot of fun.  Most places to play do not charge for the lesson and paddles and balls are usually provided. 

You do not have to know all the rules to start.  Just go online and type in Prescott pickleball or contact me and I will steer you to different places in the Quad City area.  Otherwise go to USAPA.org then places to play then

Arizona then Prescott.  Bingo!

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