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  • Writer's pictureBen Lacy

ALL LINES ARE IN....sort of...

Today's scenario is regarding LINE CALLS.

TEAM A is playing TEAM B. A1 serves the ball to TEAM B. B1 is the proper receiver, B2 is the non-receiver. The served ball lands very close to the NVZ line. B1 returns the short serve, but thinking the serve was going to be in the NVZ, hits an easily attackable ball, but does not say anything. While the ball is in the air and traveling toward TEAM A, player B2 shouts 'OUT!' B1 does not say anything. A2 strikes the ball for a clear winner down the sideline on TEAM B's end of the court.

After the rally, TEAM A argues that they won the point because B1 played the ball instead of stopping play so B2 shouting 'OUT' was inconsequential.

What's the call?

  1. This is a clear example of a proper line call. Section 6.C.7 states "All “out” calls must be made prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before the ball becomes dead." Section 6.C.11 states: "An “out” call made after the ball bounces is a line call. The ball is dead and play shall stop."

  2. Once the Line Call is made, the ball is dead, so TEAM A's return happened after the ball became 'dead.'

  3. Since player B1 did not say anything during the play, the only recourse TEAM A has is to appeal to player B1.

  4. At that point, B1 has several choices;

    1. State they did not clearly see the bounce;

    2. Agree with B2;

    3. Overrule B2 if they DID clearly see the bounce AND are not sure that the ball touched the NVZ. Section 6.C.12 states "After the completion of a rally, players may overrule a partner’s line call, their own line call, an officiating team’s line call, or an opponent’s “in” call to their own disadvantage."

A very frequent misconception in pickleball happens during LINE CALLS. Section 6 of the 2024 USAP Rulebook discusses the "ins and outs" of line calls (you see what I did there?). But the most frequent misconception I have witnessed is confusion over "when a ball OUT."

My opinion is that BENEFIT OF DOUBT given to the player that last hit the ball. Section 6.C states "The player, when assigned line-calling duties, must strive for accuracy and operate under the principle that all questionable calls must be resolved in favor of the opponent."

As an active and competitive player, especially at the 4.0+ skill level, it is difficult to always give your opponents the benefit of any doubt you may have, but is a great tool to use for any conflict on court.

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