Pickleball Dead Ball Rules

Pickleball Dead Ball

Pickleball is a fast-growing game similar to tennis that can be played on a court indoors or outdoors. As more people begin playing pickleball competitively, an understanding of some of the most basic rules in pickleball is increasingly important, including the dead ball rule. Keep reading to learn how dead balls work in pickleball.

What Is a Dead Ball in Pickleball?

In pickleball, a dead ball is a ball that is no longer in play. A dead ball is caused by any action that brings a play to a halt. Some dead balls are caused by faults and can result from a variety of different service and receiving faults.

The actions that cause a dead ball in pickleball are:

  • Faults
  • Hinders
  • Contact with a Permanent Object

Pickleball Faults

Any fault committed by a player results in a dead ball. The ball becomes dead immediately after the first fault in a play. Unless it is a non-volley zone violation, faults only occur once the play has begun and the ball is live. In doubles play, if the receiving team commits a fault, the serving team gets a point; however, if the serving side commits a fault, they lose the rally and service moves to the next player.

Pickleball Hinders

Pickleball Hinders

A hinder also results in a dead ball and requires a replay of the point. A hinder is anything that may have distracted or hampered either player or team during a play. A hinder can be called by a player or the referee. If a player or team calls a hinder and it is determined to be invalid, that player or team is considered to have committed a fault. Examples of a hinder include a stray pickleball rolling onto the court, debris blowing onto the court, or other players or officials accidentally stepping onto the court during a point.

Pickleball Contact With Permanent Objects

Another example of a fault that results in a dead ball is any contact between the pickleball and a permanent object after the ball has already bounced on the court. Examples of permanent objects include fences, lighting fixtures, players on another court, referees, or spectators. When this happens, and the ball has already bounced on the opposing team’s side of the court, the team that hit the ball wins the rally. If they are the serving team, they also receive a point. 

However, if the ball has not yet bounced on the opposing team’s side of the court and it hits a permanent object, the team that hit the ball receives a fault, and the rally is won by the receiving team. If a player is hit by the ball and it has already bounced on their side of the court, they will lose the rally even if it flies out of bounds after hitting them.

Pickleball Dead Ball Rules Summary

  • A dead ball occurs after any action that stops play.
  • Player faults and referee hinders are the main causes of dead balls.
  • Faults occur when a player fails to legally volley the ball or otherwise breaks the rules.
  • Hinders are called by players or the referee when something interferes with legal play.
  • A ball that hits a stationary object after legally contacting an opponent’s court is a dead ball, and the rally is won by the side that last hit the ball.


What causes a dead ball in pickleball?

The most common causes of a dead ball in pickleball are faults. A player commits a fault when they hit the ball in an illegal way or fail to hit the ball entirely. Dead balls can also be caused by hinders or any contact with a permanent object on the court.

What is a hinder in pickleball?

In pickleball, a hinder is a temporary condition, not caused by a player, that negatively impacts play. Common examples of hinders are extra balls, insects, debris, or other players entering the court during a point. Distractions from adjacent courts also count as hinders. A hinder can be called by a player or a referee, but those called by players must be confirmed by a referee in sanctioned play.

What does contact with a permanent object mean?

Contact with a permanent object is any time the ball hits something permanent other than the court itself. These most commonly include nearby fences, lighting fixtures, referees, and players on another court.