RULES Q AND A
In this column, Prem Carnot, The Pickleball Guru, shines the light of
clarity on many confusing scenarios that can happen in the world of
pickleball. His answers are drawn from the USAPA/IFP Referee Handbook
& IFP Official Tournament Rulebook. You can submit your questions to:
email@example.com for consideration in an upcoming column.
I was playing in the US Open and ran into an interesting situation. I was in the process of
serving the ball when the referee stopped me to say that the receivers were in the wrong position.
The returning team quickly made the change. Is the referee allowed to make this call, and should
we have been awarded the point since it occurred?
Wondering in Wisconsin
You are absolutely right. It sounds like it’s time for that referee to review the rules. It is NOT
up to the ref to correct a team’s positioning (unless the team had asked for confirmation of their
The ref should have called the score, let you serve, and then called a fault on the receiving team,
after which your team would have been awarded the point.
In the future, if you are convinced that a referee has made a bad call, you might consider
protesting as per rule 14.K. via an appeal to the tournament director.
That said, keep in mind that refereeing is not an easy job and while the USAPA is working hard
to create a high standard of excellence, there are often more refs needed than are highly qualified.
Whenever a ref steps up to the court, he/she is doing us all a favor by helping the tournament
move along so please give the benefit of the doubt. If you do decide to appeal next time, please
keep it friendly, civil, and respectful of all involved.
Thanks for your question. I’m sorry that you were kept from a point that should have been
yours. Hopefully this article will give countless other players and refs the information they need to
do the right thing next time this situation occurs, so perhaps you can find a little solace in that?
The Pickleball Guru
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From the USAPA/IFP
Section V: Common OnCourt Situations
Wrong receiver: After serve
has been returned, announce
“receiver fault” and state
“point.” Explain briefly, as
necessary. [Rule 5.B.7 &
From the IFP Official
5.B.7. The receiver is the
person on the diagonally
opposite side of the court
from the server. In doubles,
this position corresponds
to the player’s score and
5.B.8. The receiver is the
only player who may return
the ball. If the wrong player
returns the ball, it is a point
for the serving team.
Interpretations. If a
player feels that the referee
has interpreted the rules
incorrectly, that player may
request that the referee or
the Tournament Director
show the applicable rule in
14.K. Protest. Any referee’s
decision involving an
interpretation of the rules
may, on protest, be decided
by the Tournament Director.