The USAPA was certainly busy during 2020 with a revised rulebook for 2021!
You can check out the new rulebook here! Alternatively, you can check out the Alternate 2021 rulebook here (this one attempts to simplify all the rules for you!). Don’t want to plow through the entire rulebook and want everything summarized with explanations as to the changes? Then check this out! So here’s the deal – much of the changes are for referees and reffed games, so you can breathe a sigh of relief!
But there are two MAJOR changes that will certainly have an impact on your rec play – the elimination of the service let rule and the drop serve!
No More Service Lets
Apparently there are some cheaters out there in the pickleball world! And this is the reason there are no more service lets!
That’s why they made these changes – during a reffed game, a player could yell out a let (even though it wasn’t one!) and they would have to replay the point!
So here’s the situation – if the ball ticks the net and still winds up in the proper court (past the Kitchen line, of course!), the ball is LIVE and in play!
Yes, that means when a serve hits the net, it bounces very short in the court, and there’s no way that you can return it, the serving team is going to win that point!
The Drop Serve
First off, the drop serve is a provisional rule for 2021, which means it could go away in 2022! (The USAPA will be evaluating it throughout 2021.)
The concept of the drop serve has been around for quite a long time. Why the drop serve? Because the other service rules (upward forward motion, paddle head below the wrist, strike below the belly-button) which can be difficult to call correctly, don’t apply!
That’s right! You can hit the drop serve however you want!
Here’s how it works – you stand behind the baseline (the other rules for serving still apply) and you DROP the ball (onto the playing surface if you like, the ball doesn’t have to be dropped behind the baseline) and serve it from the bounce. You can strike the ball however you want – forehand, backhand – and with as much spin as you like!
The key word here is DROP, you can’t toss the ball in the air or throw it down to get a higher bounce!
Hence the name, the drop serve!