It’s that time of year again when USA Pickleball and the IFB Rules Committee come together to add new rules to the ever-evolving game of pickleball. As the amount of players nationwide continues to grow exponentially, the equipment and strategy of the game evolve too. To curb the evolution and keep the integrity of pickleball, USA Pickleball implements new rules that start every year on January 1st.
The biggest rules story for this year is one we all saw coming halfway through 2022 - the banning of the spin serve. (When a player uses their hand that’s holding the ball to spin the ball before striking their serve.) This comes exactly one year after the banning of the chainsaw serve, which allowed a player to spin the ball using the friction between their hand, the ball, and their paddle. So, for 2023, a player must hold the ball in their non-serving hand and simply toss the ball in the air, with no added spin from the toss.
Here’s a summary of the more noteworthy rule changes we’ll see for 2023.
New Pickleball Rules for 2023
No more spin serve!
A player will no longer be able to spin the ball before serving. Now, the player can only toss the ball up in the air with no added spin. Check out our blog outlining everything you need to know about the banning of the spin serve.
A referee will now be able to grant a player an “equipment timeout” if the player’s equipment has malfunctioned. Previously a player with an equipment issue was forced to take a timeout to fix their equipment.
Replay for Serving Violation
In years past, a referee had a cut-and-dry job of either calling a serve violation (and loss of service) or not, and the point played on. In 2023, a referee that’s unsure if a serving violation occurred can now call a replay, where the server isn’t penalized and the point is simply replayed.
Wrong Score Called
This rule is actually being reversed back to where it was prior to 2022 and a player can stop the rally (as long as it’s before the ball has been returned) to question the score. So, if a player believes the score is wrong as it’s being served, they have the right to stop the point before the rally has officially begun - but beware, in tournament play, if the player that stops the rally to question the score is wrong, that player will lose the point!
Matching the Color of the Ball
Well, if you’re a fan of wearing yellow or neon green, you might be out of luck. Players are asked to wear colors unlike the color of the ball. (Which for most tournaments will be yellow or neon green.) It might be worth taking a look at the entry form before the tournament to see which ball they plan on using to avoid any potential issues.
How Are Changes Submitted, and Who Can Submit Change Requests?
The rule-changing process is long, thorough, and transparent, as you would expect from USA Pickleball. Here’s a quick, basic rundown of how it works.
- Members submit recommendations via USA Pickleball in the early part of each year.
- The public comments on each rule that was submitted. The goal is to get a general feeling and a larger group’s perspective on the proposed changes.
- Proposed rule changes and public comments are submitted to the IFP Rules Committee.
From there, the IFP Rules Committee, alongside the USA Pickleball Rules Committee vote on the proposed changes. Once the IFP completes its voting, they share all of the results on USA Pickleball’s website. After that, the Rules Revision Committee begins writing the rules.
If you’d like to see the full rule book revision process from A to Z, click here to view USA Pickleball’s website.