We don’t have referees at drop-in pickleball, so you wear the stripes. Step up to the responsibility when the ball is on your side of the net, and don’t argue or overcall when the ball is on your opponents’ side.

Call “out” balls clearly and promptly as you see them. You or your partner may call a ball out on your side of the net. If neither of you saw the ball land, then it is presumed good. If the ball was too close to call, then it is presumed good. If you call it out and your partner immediately disagrees with your call, the ball is presumed good. If you call the ball out and the opponents say that if looked good, the ball is still out. End of story, it’s not their call. The opponents don’t get a say in the call on your side of the net unless you ask them. Sometimes an opponent may have a better view of a side line and you would like to ask what the opponent saw. If you do ask, you must agree with whatever the opponent says.

Don’t be equivocal. There is nothing worse than hearing a player say “well, I think that was out” or “that may have been out.” Just do your best. The rules do not provide for “do-overs” because players can’t agree on a call. Any doubt, then the ball was good.

Don’t stop playing because you think a ball is going out. It’s ok to return a ball after it has bounced out of bounds. The ball is still out if you or your partner call it after you return it. Just make the call promptly, before the opponents have another shot back to you.

You do not have to announce that a ball was good. No call means it was good.

Playing Tip: Help Your Partner Recognize Long or Wide Balls

There is no easier way to score than to let your opponent’s long ball bounce out of bounds. But those high balls are so tempting to many of us, that we return a ball that would have been out. Be a good partner and yell “bounce it” or “no” when you believe a ball is going to be long and you can see your partner is preparing to hit it. He might hit a winning shot, or he might not. But letting a ball drop out is a sure thing.


Special thanks to the Incline Village Pickleball players for allowing us to post this information they created for their group. If you are in Tahoe, be sure to check out their great location with 8 courts and a friendly group for some Pickleball fun.

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