Ask the Pickleball Ref by David Hoel

More unusual situations that occur while playing pickleball and how they should be handled.

SITUATION: Neither player on Team A clearly saw whether a ball landed out on their side of the net and requested the opinion of nearby spectators, who said the ball was out. Team B asserted that, if Team A was unsure, the ball should be considered “in” and it is illegal to ask spectators.

QUESTION: Was Team B’s assertion correct?

ANSWER: Yes. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made. When doubt exists, Team A’s call will be “in” (Rule 6.D.3. & 9). Spectators should never be consulted on any line call (Rule 6.D.4).


SITUATION: A doubles match was being played in a gym with many other courts also in play.  During play, a Team B player heard someone on another court shout “PICKLE!” (loose ball) and stopped playing, missing a shot. The player claimed a hinder, even though the loose ball was not on their court.

QUESTION: Was the hinder claim legitimate?

ANSWER:  Yes. Gymnasium play can be very noisy, and such “pickle” calls can be especially distracting. A hinder is any element or occurrence outside of the player’s control that impacts play (Rule 3.A.15). A hinder called by a player will result in a dead ball and will result in a replay (Rule 8.C.).


SITUATION: A Team A serve touches the net, but was otherwise good and landed in the service court so a “let” was called. The next serve was also a let.  Team B claimed a fault on the server asserting only one service let is allowed.

QUESTION: Was Team B’s claim legitimate?

ANSWER: No. There is no limit to the number of lets a server may serve (Rule 4.0).