The 2018 USAPA/IFP Rulebook edition was completely re-written and re-organized. The rulebook will no longer go through mid-year changes but will be updated on an annual basis.
Rule Revisions: 2018
Rule Revisions: June 15, 2016
2.E.3. Size: The combined length and width including any edge guard and butt cap shall not exceed 24 inches (60.96 cm). The paddle length cannot exceed 17 inches (43.18 cm). There is no restriction on paddle thickness. (revised January 1st, 2016, effective July 1st, 2017)
Rule Revisions: April 15, 2016
2.E.2. Surface. No change in the policy but the Paddle roughness can now be tested using a Starrett SR 100 or its replacement testers such as the Starrett SR160 Surface Roughness Tester.
2.G. Equipment Rules, Specifications, Amendments, and Revocations. The Board of Directors will determine and publish equipment rules, specifications, approvals, and amendments for sanctioned tournament play. In addition, the Board may revoke its prior rules, specifications, approvals, and amendments pertaining to models, brands, versions, designs, or types of equipment if the specified equipment is found to have been materially changed by the manufacturer or if the equipment materially degrades or changes under ordinary use so as to significantly alter the nature of the sport. Before making equipment rules, specifications, approvals, amendments, and revocations effective, the Board will give reasonable notice under the circumstances to those affected through the USAPA and IFP website home pages, official national publications, or other acceptable means of broad communication.
Rule Revisions: January 1, 2016
Rule Revisions: November 1, 2015
Rule Addition: August 24, 2015
11.F. Additional Time-Out Rules. At the beginning of the match, no time-outs may be taken before the initial score has been called and the match has begun. The match cannot begin until all players are on the court and ready to play. Failure to be ready to play on time shall result in a match forfeit. Also see rule 14.H.3. for match forfeiture. During the match, after a time-out has ended, the referee will call a “time-in” and then announce the score (even if players are not on the court and/or not ready to play). If players are not ready within 10 seconds, and no additional time-outs are called or available (see rule 11.D.), the offending side will receive a technical foul on the first offense and a match forfeit on the second offense.
Rule Revision: August 24, 2015
13.E. Lower Bracket Matches. In all IFP-sanctioned tournaments, each entrant shall be entitled to participate in a minimum of two scheduled matches per event entered. This means that losers of their first match shall have the opportunity to compete in the event’s lower bracket. The lower bracket matches may be modified at the discretion of the Tournament Director (e.g., one game to 15 points).
Rule Revisions: August 1, 2015
2.D.1. Construction. The standard ball shall be made of durable plastic material molded with a smooth surface and free of texturing. The ball can only be one single, uniform color.
Rule Revisions: June 1, 2015
10.C. Game (Standard Tournament Format). The first side scoring 11 points and leading by at least a 2-point margin wins. If both sides are tied at 10 points, then play continues until one side wins by 2 points.
10.E. Alternate Tournament Formats.
10.E.1. A tournament director may choose to have some or all matches (except Round Robin) consist of one game to 15 points or one game to 21 points with a win by 2 points. This applies to a single or double elimination bracket. For Round Robin events a winning margin of one point is required.
10.E.2. A tournament director may choose to have Round Robin or Round Robin Pool Play feeding to a medal bracket. For any Round Robin event, games must be “win by 1 point” (not 2 points). Also see 13.A.4. and 13.A.6.
13.A.4. Round Robin. All players (in singles) or teams will play each other. All matches will be played with the same number of games for each match. i.e., 1 game to 15 win by 1, or 1 game to 21 win by 1, or 3 games to 11 win by 1 (1 or 2 games to 11 is not permitted, all 3 games to 11 must be played even if a player/team win the first two games). The player or team winning the most matches is declared the winner. If two or more teams are tied for a medal, the player or team winning the most points will be declared the winner of the tie.
Rule Additions: April 24, 2015
Section 16 – Wheelchair Rules
16. A. Basic Play. The wheelchair is considered part of the player’s body and all applicable rules that apply to a player’s body will apply to the wheelchair except in non-volley zone as listed below. All applicable rules which apply to standing players apply to those in a wheelchair except as listed below.
16. B. Two Bounce Rule. The wheelchair pickleball player is allowed two bounces of the ball on his or her side of the net. The second bounce can be anywhere inside or outside of the court boundaries.
16. C. Service.
16.C.1. Server shall be in stationary position, and then allowed one push before striking ball.
16.C.2. At the time the server strikes the ball, the server shall not touch with any wheel: any baselines, sidelines, center lines or the extended center or sidelines.
16.D. Non-Volley Zone (NVZ). (two bounce rule applies)
16.D.1. When a wheelchair player strikes a ball in the NVZ, on a volley, it is a fault only if the larger- rear wheels contact NVZ.
16.D.2. Upon exiting the NVZ, after striking a bounced ball, the player’s larger-rear wheels must return to outside the NVZ boundaries (so no rear wheel contact is made in the NVZ) before hitting a volley, or it is a fault.
16.E. Wheelchair/Standing Pickleball.
16.E.1. When a wheelchair pickleball player is playing with or against a standing person in singles or doubles, the rules of pickleball for standing players shall apply to all standing players while the wheelchair pickleball rules shall apply to all wheelchair players.
16. F. Singles Wheelchair Pickleball.
16.F.1. Singles play with one or both players in a wheelchair shall be played on half court. The server and the receiver shall serve, receive and play the entire point from their respective service and receiving court.
Rule Revision: April 20, 2015
3.O. Non-Volley Zone. The section of court adjacent to the net in which you cannot volley the ball. It includes all lines surrounding the zone. The NVZ is only two dimensional and does not rise above the court surface.
6.D.1. Players will call the lines on their side of the court (excluding the non-volley line on a serve — i.e., short serve, if being called by a referee).
6.D.5. No player should question an opponent’s call unless asked (except that player may appeal a call to the referee in an officiated match). A player should ask the opponent’s opinion if the opponent was in a better position to see the call. An opponent’s opinion, if requested, shall be accepted. The opinion of a player looking down the line is more likely to be accurate than one looking across the line.
9.A. The non-volley zone is the area of the court (not the space above it) bounded by the two sidelines, the non-volley line, and the net. The non-volley line and the sidelines are included in the non-volley zone.
9.G. For non-officiated play, non-volley zone faults may be called by any player on either team.
Rule Revision: March 1, 2015
4.I. Readiness. Serves shall not be made until the receiver is ready and the score has been called. Serving before the score is called shall result in a fault, and loss of serve. The referee shall call the score when he or she determines that the players should be in position to resume play.
14.D.4.b. Instruct the players on the need to wait for the referee to call out the score before serving, or a fault will incur.
New Rules: March 31, 2014
2.D.4. Bounce. The ball shall have a bounce of 29 to 37 inches (73.7 to 94 cm) when dropped from a height of 75 inches (190.5 cm) onto a concrete floor. Test to be performed at a room temperature of 75 to 80 degrees F (24 to 27 degrees C).
2.D.5. Hardness. The ball shall have a hardness of 35 to 50 on a Durometer D scale at a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees F (24 to 27 degrees C).
2.D.6. Design. (formerly 2.D.4. , Design remains unchanged but is now classified as 2.D.6.)
2.D.7. Approval. (formerly 2.D.5., Approval remains unchanged but is now classified as 2.D.7.)
New Rule: February 16, 2014
2.G. Equipment Approval and Authorization. The approval and authorization of equipment used for sanctioned tournament play shall be made by the Board of Directors acting on a recommendation by the Rules Committee. Prior approval or authorization of a specified piece, model, brand, version, design or type of equipment may be revoked by the Board of Directors upon six months’ notice on the USAPA and IFP website home page, official national newsletter publications, or other acceptable means of communication, if the specified equipment is found to have been materially changed by the manufacturer or if the equipment materially degrades or changes under ordinary use, other than normal wear and tear, so as to significantly alter the nature of the sport.
Rule Revision: January 15, 2014
12.N. Paddle Possession. A player must have possession of the paddle when it makes contact with the ball.
Rule Revision: January 1, 2014
14.D.6. Call the score after each rally is completed and the result has been marked on the official scorecard. Calling out the score indicates to each side that play is ready to resume. Also refer to rule 4.I.
4.I. Readiness: Serves shall not be made until the receiver is ready and the score has been called. The referee shall call the score when he or she determines that the players should be in position to resume play.
IFP Comment: Normally the score should be called when the server and receiver are in their respective positions, the server has the ball and is ready to play. If, however, it appears that the server and/or the receiver are delaying the game, the referee can call the score to start the 10 second rule, 4.J. (Added January 1, 2014)
Rule Revision: October 1, 2013
2.E.5. Alterations: The only alterations that can be made to a commercial paddle are changes to the grip, adding an edge guard, and adding name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face. These decals/markings can extend no farther than 1″ (25.4 mm) above the top of the handle nor more than 1/2″ (12.7 mm) from the outer edge of a paddle, or paddle edge guard if in place. Altered paddles must meet all specifications. Homemade paddles are not permitted. (Effective January 1, 2014)
Rule Revision: July 1, 2013
The definition of Permanent Object was moved from paragraph 4.E.2 to the list of definitions in paragraph 3.S.
Rule Revision: February 9, 2013
12.L. Coaching. Players may consult with any person during time-outs and between games. Once the game has begun, except during time-outs, any communication between a player and any person not on the court, if determined by the referee to be coaching, shall result in a technical warning to the offending player or team and a verbal warning to spectators. If the communication occurs a second time, it shall result in a technical foul and a point will be awarded to the opponent. (Revised February, 2013)
Rule Revision: February 1, 2013
The items in red below were added to define terms. There is no intended change to the way in which the serve should be made.
4.A. Serve Motion. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level).
4.A.1. Underhand Defined. 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).
Rule Change: January 15, 2013
12.H. Distractions. Players may not yell, stamp their feet, or otherwise try to distract an opponent when the opponent is about to play the ball. A player, or anything the player is wearing or carrying, may not cross the plane of the net (or the extension of the net beyond the posts) except when striking the ball. Note: In Doubles, team communication shall not normally be considered a distraction. However, loud communication at the time the opponent is about to strike the ball may be considered a distraction. If, in the judgment of the referee, a distraction has occurred, it shall result in the loss of the rally. (revised January 15, 2013)
Rule Changes: June 23, 2012
Rule 2.E.8 has been added to enable tournament directors to more easily identify paddles that meet USAPA specifications. As a consequence of 2.E.8, 2.E.5 was modified to delete homemade paddles.
2.E.5. Alterations. Modified paddles are acceptable so long as they meet all specifications.
2.E.8 Model Designation. The manufacturer must have a clearly marked brand and model name or model number on the paddle. Paddles with different core material, surface material, or other significant differences must have a unique name or number. Each unique model must have been offered for sale to the general public and samples of each unique model must have been submitted to the USAPA and passed USAPA tests. Paddles used in USAPA sanctioned tournaments after January 1, 2014 must conform to this rule.
Rule 9.D was revised to avoid a possible misinterpretation. There is no intended change in the meaning.
9.D. If a player has touched the non-volley zone for any reason, that player cannot volley the return until both feet have made contact with the playing surface completely outside the non-volley zone.
Rule Changes: January 15, 2012
The following comment was added under paragraph 9.B to clarify what is meant by the “act of volleying the ball.” There is no change in the meaning of the rule.
IFP Comment: The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action. If the paddle touches the non-volley zone during the swing, it is a fault regardless of whether the touch occurred before or after contacting the ball.
The following rule was added.
12. M. One Paddle. A player shall not use or carry more than one paddle during a rally.
New Rule: February 21, 2011
The following paragraph regarding portable net systems that have a horizontal bar that spans the distance between the net posts has been added to the official rules. Examples of such systems are shown on this page including the USAPA Portable Net System.
12.J.5. When net systems have a horizontal bar that may include 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 then hits the horizontal bar, the ball is still in play. If the ball goes over the net and then hits center base or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar before touching the court, it is a let and must be replayed.