Pickleball Fault Rules

Pickleball Fault Rules

A fault in pickleball is anything that stops gameplay due to an illegal action. If the serving team commits a fault, the team will lose its serve and service will be given to the opposing team. On the other hand, if the receiving team commits a fault, the serving team is awarded a point.


Serving Team Faults

A service fault can occur before, during, or after the ball is served. Before the serve, a fault takes place if the server is standing in the improper area of the court or the wrong player elects to serve. The server must call out the score completely before attempting to hit the ball. Failure to call out the score or calling out the score during the action of serving will result in a fault.

Illegal Serve Fault

A fault also occurs if the player performs an illegal serve. Common illegal actions during a serve include crossing the baseline, sideline, or centerline while serving and making contact with the ball above waist height. The server’s arm needs to be moving in an upward arc motion when contact is made with the ball.

The trajectory of the ball and where it lands are crucial and can often result in a fault. If the ball makes contact with a player on the serving team or a permanent object before bouncing on the ground, a fault occurs. A legal serve must land in or on the lines of the appropriate opposing service court. If the ball lands anywhere else, including the non-volley zone or outside the service court, the serve is illegal and a fault occurs. The serve is also invalid if the ball hits the net and lands either in the non-volley zone or outside the service court.

Receiving Team Faults

While there are fewer scenarios in which the receiving team can commit a fault, doing so results in the serving team earning a point. Some receiving team faults include:

  • The wrong player returning the serve
  • A player interfering with the ball before it bounces on the court
  • Calling a timeout after the ball has already been served
  • Hitting the ball into the non-volley zone (or anywhere else outside of the service court)
  • Allowing the ball to bounce more than one time before returning it to the opposing team (For players in a wheelchair, allowing the ball to bounce more than twice before returning)

Other Faults

A few other common faults may occur and result in a stoppage of play. These include hitting the ball directly into or under the net (and it fails to pass over the net), stopping a live ball in the air before it makes contact with the ground (following the serve and initial return), or hitting the ball before it crosses over the net.

List of Fault Rules

  • You can not hit the ball directly into or under the net
  • You can not stop a live ball in the air on the initial shot by each team
  • You can not serve outside of the designated area on the court
  • You can not serve if it is not your turn
  • You can not call out the serve during or after a serve
  • You can not cross the baseline, centerline, or sideline when serving
  • You can not serve overhand or above waist height
  • You can not hit a serve into a permanent object or your teammate
  • You can not hit a serve outside of the appropriate opposing service court
  • The receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning the initial serve
  • The receiving team may not let the ball bounce more than once before returning it
  • The receiving team may not call a timeout after the ball is served
  • You can not hit the ball into the net without it crossing over into the appropriate service zone
  • You can not hit the ball before it crosses over the net plane