Pickleball Line Call Rules

Pickleball Line Call Rules

Line calling is an important aspect of racquet sports such as pickleball and tennis, but how does line calling work in pickleball? According to the official rules, there is strict etiquette involved in making line calls, as these crucial decisions can alter the outcome of a game and can also sometimes be used unfairly. Read on to learn all about line calling in pickleball.

In vs. Out Line Calls

In pickleball, any ball that is in play and touches any part of the court or the court boundary lines is considered in. If the ball touches the playing surface completely outside of the court (failing to touch any court lines), it is out. In addition, serves must land inside the diagonally opposite service court, or touch one of the service court lines, to be considered in. If a served ball lands outside of the appropriate service court, hits outside of a court boundary line, hits the non-volley zone, or hits the non-volley zone line, it is considered out.

Rules of Line Calling in Pickleball

According to official rules, pickleball players are responsible for calling the lines on their side of the pickleball court, except in cases involving short serves, a foot fault, or a non-volley zone fault, which the referees determine. A pickleball player thus has the right to call a ball out when it lands outside the boundary lines on their side of the court. Players can also ask for a second opinion on their call from the referee or their opponents. If the second opinion results in a clear verdict on whether the ball was in or out, that verdict will be accepted, but the player’s call will be accepted if there is no obvious answer.

In pickleball, an opponent must always receive the benefit of the doubt in line calls to prevent them from being used unfairly. Therefore, players are not allowed to question an opponent’s line call. Instead, they must make an appeal to the referee before the next serve if they believe that the call was incorrect. In general, a ball can only be called out when there is a clearly visible space between the ball and the boundary line, and the line call that results from this must be made promptly. Additionally, in doubles play, if one team member calls the ball out and the other calls it in, it will be assumed that the ball was in.

When to Make a Line Call in Pickleball

With these rules in mind, pickleball players may wonder when it is most appropriate to make a line call. Simply put, a line call can be made in various scenarios. On a serve, a ball can be called out if it lands in the non-volley zone, on the non-volley zone line, or outside the lines of the appropriate service court.

During any other type of rallying shot, a ball can only be called out if it lands completely outside the lines of the pickleball court. The general rule of thumb for calling a ball out is if a player or official sees a clear gap between the boundary line and the ball. Making accurate line calls is important for both players and line judges, as a correct call of “out” means that play stops, and the team who hit the ball out-of-bounds loses the rally.

How to Make a Line Call in Pickleball

In order to ethically make a line call in pickleball, players must be certain that they are doing so correctly in order to ensure that they do not give themselves an unfair advantage. For this reason, the pickleball rules stress that players should only make line calls with absolute certainty and should strive to be as accurate as possible.

Players must also correctly signal a line call with both their voice and proper hand signals, and they must call a ball out promptly, meaning prior to the ball being hit by their opponent or going dead. Finally, players must always give their opponents the advantage on a line call, meaning that the opponent will be granted the rally if there is any level of doubt about the call.

Line Call Rules Summary

  • Pickleball players are generally responsible for calling balls out.
  • Referees are responsible for determining whether balls are out on short serves, foot faults, or non-volley zone faults.
  • Serves must land within the lines of the diagonally opposite service court.
  • Serves should be called out if they fall on the non-volley zone line or within the non-volley zone.
  • Balls in play should be called out if they fall outside of the court boundary lines.
  • General rule of thumb is that balls should be called out if there is a clear space between the ball and a court boundary line.
  • Opponents must receive the benefit of the doubt during line calls.


What are the line call rules in pickleball?

The main line call rules in pickleball is that players are responsible for making them. Also, the benefit of the doubt goes to the opponent in order to ensure fairness, and players must correctly signal a line call with their voice and proper hand gestures.

Who is responsible for line calls in pickleball?

Pickleball players are responsible for line calls in pickleball. This is a unique feature of the sport, since many similar racquet and paddle sports leave that decision to an umpire or referee closely watching the match. In pickleball, this responsibility falls on the players and generally benefits the opponent in each scenario.