Every year there are rule changes in the sport of pickleball. And 2023 is no different. The following rule changes for 2023 have been approved by the USA Pickleball Rules Committee and are simply waiting for the up/down vote by the USA Pickleball Board of Directors to become “official.”
Afterall, many argued that the serve violates the “original intent” of the serve (just get the rally started) and that it was too difficult to return – particularly for amateur players.
While one can certainly challenge the merits of these arguments, the Rules Committee – and, ultimately the USA Pickleball Board of Directors – was nonetheless forced to address this issue, and several others, for 2023.
How are Rule Changes for Pickleball Made?
To the credit of all involved, the rule change process has become exceedingly transparent over the years. The process begins with the USA Pickleball membership that is encouraged to submit potential changes.
Once submitted, the proposed changes are listed on the USA Pickleball website for public comment. Once public comment closes, the proposed changes are then reviewed by the USA Pickleball Rules Committee.
At this point, the proposed rule changes are either approved to move forward in the process, rejected or reworded. Once the USA Pickleball Rules Committee has finished its task, it’s the USA Pickleball Board of Directors’ turn. The USA Pickleball Board of Directors has the final say in the process with up-or-down votes on the proposed changes.
Those changes that make it all the way through the process and pass the up/down vote by the USA Pickleball Board of Directors will make it into the 2023 Official Rulebook.
2023 Rule Changes
With a proposed effective date of January 1, 2023, here are a few of the more notable pickleball rule changes:
1. Elimination of the One-Handed Pre-Spin Serve
Simply stated, with the release of the ball being required to be visible to the receiver and referee (if applicable), the server is no longer permitted to impart manipulation or spin on the release of the ball immediately prior to the serve.
If the referee (in a match with a referee) or receiver (in a match without a referee) determines that manipulation or spin has been imparted (or the release of the ball is not visible) the referee or receiver shall immediately call for a reserve/replay.
2. Player is Hit with the Pickleball
The Rulebook (7.H and 7.I) now more explicitly states (with a simple editorial change) that it is, indeed, a fault on the “player who was hit by a ball” and not the person who hit the ball. Here’s looking at you, Nasty Nelson!
3. Rally Scoring Option for Singles & Doubles – Failed
The rally scoring option proposal – where a point is scored on every rally, regardless of who has served – failed. However, a task force is to be formed in 2023 to investigate the details of how to implement such an option.
Look for this to be a hot topic as rules are submitted and debated next year! Opponents of this scoring option are not out of the woods quite yet!
4. Miscellaneous Changes
There were some other very minor editorial changes that passed, including the clean up of ambiguous and redundant wording. Nothing that really impacts day-to-day rec play for the average amateur.
Although there were several changes that passed out of the 78 that were proposed, the most notable pickleball rule change for 2023 is, undoubtedly, the elimination of the one-handed pre-spin serve.
Once approved by the USA Pickleball Board of Directors, all changes will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
In the meantime, if you don’t like a particular rule, submit your proposed change to USA Pickleball for consideration in the next iteration of the rulebook.
See you on the courts.