2021 USA Pickleball Rule Changes by David Hoel

Every year about this time, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) issues changes and or improvements to their Pickleball Rules.  Accordingly, the attached “2021 Change Document” was recently issued (Click here). The 2021 edition of the Rulebook will be issued on January 25, 2021.  Accordingly, the 2020 rules remain in effect until that time. A very informative 2-hour webinar recording by the Rules Committee is available at https://youtu.be/IeVZloCr4eA 


  • 81 pages; 125 specific rule changes 

  • Each change is described, and a reasoning provided


Service Lets Removed (page 11)

The definition (3.A.18) and Section 4 (Service Lets) have been removed. Starting in 2021, there will be no rule(s) governing service lets. Service Lets have been removed. It is noted that out of habit, both referees and players may sometimes habitually call a service let. If any player stops play because of a service let being called, that player/team will have committed a fault per rule 7.I.

Provisional Drop Serve (page 26)

New Rule 4.A.8 - In addition to the standard serve sequence described in Rules 4.A.1 to4.A.7, players may opt to use an alternate “drop serve” method.

New Rule 4.A.8.a - Servers must release the ball from one of the server’s hands or dropped off   paddle from any natural (un-aided) height and hit the ball after the ball bounces on the playing surface. The server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and the receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. A replay shall be called before the return of serve if the release of the ball is not visible.

New Rule 4.A.8.b - Before bouncing on the ground, the ball shall not be propelled (thrown) downward or tossed or hit upward with the paddle. Failure to drop the ball properly will result in a fault. There is no restriction on where the ball can land on the playing surface after it is dropped (providing 4.A.2 is satisfied) nor how many times within the 10 seconds after the score is called the server may drop the ball.

New Rule 4.A.8.C - If the drop serve is used, the ball may be struck with either a forehand or backhand motion without any other restriction; i.e., the location restrictions of the ball and paddle in Rules 4.A.3, 4.A.4, and 4.A.5 do not apply.

Click here for a video that demonstrates this new serve method in detail.