Rule change for 2024

Carries or scoop shots are no longer allowed, so these are now faults and lose the rally. In my squash days this was described as an egg and spoon! However, unlike I think every other racket game, double hits are still not faults in pickleball as long as both contacts with the paddle are in the smooth execution of the same stroke and unintentional. I’ve notice that some if not most of us occasionally have double hits. In my case it is usually because I haven’t middled the shot and the ball clips the guard strip. This is almost impossible to do deliberately and doesn’t seem to make any difference to the shot. If it is one continuous stroke – no fault.

NVZ (kitchen) rules

This coaching tip is prompted by observing one of our group’s pickleball competitive matchplay sessions. It was good to see so many of our players advancing to the NVQ (kitchen) line to take up the dominant court position when the opportunity arose. Not surprisingly many points were won from there. However, quite a few were also lost due to volleying while standing on the NVQ line or in the zone. This is a fault and so the shot that should have been a winner was actually a point lost. What made this error particularly galling was that the volley could have been easily played and still been a winner if the shot had been played a foot further back, well outside the NVZ.

These faults were obvious. Not so obvious were the NVZ foot faults when the volley was executed from just outside the NVZ but on the follow through of the stroke the player stepped on the line or into the kitchen. This is also a fault and a point lost. According to the official rule book (84 pages in length!)

9.B.1. The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action.

So the volley is not completed at the moment that the paddle strikes the ball. The impetus is part of the stroke. If the impetus of the volley takes the volleyer into the NVZ it is a fault. Imagine the following scenario. I am standing just outside the NVZ line. I reach forward and play a volley. In the process I lose balance and teeter for a second or two before having to step forward into the kitchen. In the meantime, one of the opposing players hits the ball into the net. It doesn’t matter. They have won the point because my impetus took me into the NVZ. The volley was illegal, and any subsequent returning shot is irrelevant.

The rule concerning this is quite clear. On completing the volley at the kitchen line, the player must be in full control, balanced and stable. If there is a referee, this is what they look for. Of course, if you are unbalanced and manage to step backwards, that’s ok. You’ve not stepped into the kitchen.

The coaching tip is to stand a foot behind the NVZ line to give yourself a little bit of leeway for forward momentum when you volley. This will not cost you any points and prevent you from losing quite a few. It is especially important if you ever get to play on a proper pickleball court. Although the overall dimensions are identical to the badminton courts we usually play on the NVZ is deeper. The line is 7 feet from the net, not the 6 feet 6 inches of the badminton service line we use as the NVZ in pickleball. By routinely stopping short of the NVZ by a foot you will soon get a feel for how close you can get to the net rather than looking down to see where the NVZ line is.

This video illustrates some of these point quite well.
The non volley zone rules