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  • Writer's pictureBen Lacy

Is it a HINDER?


I've got a bone to pick with someone, but I don't want to say their name since I play pickleball with them at least once a week. We have a small group and I don't want to upset the small applecart, BUT....please settle this one for us.

My "friend," who was an avid tennis player, has called 'LET' many times during our games. I think in tennis, LET is a common term that players use to mean 'play that one over' when something happens that stops play or interferes or something, but it wasn't anyone's fault. I've told her many times that the word 'LET' doesn't mean anything in pickleball, though it used to when a serve hit the net but was otherwise a legal serve. But here's my problem with what she's doing. She will call "LET" when someone on another court drops a paddle, or shouts loudly, or my favorite one, when her partner gets in her way. She hollers 'LET' and grabs the ball to play the point over. Again, our group is just for fun and exercise and it's pretty small, but I really want to have this straight in my head.

What should I do the next time she does this?

Cheryl H.



Thank you for your question. This is a very common situation among recreational players and it is pretty straight forward. There are a few rules that cover this situation, so let's go over them.

The first is the definition. What your 'friend' is invoking is what, in pickleball, we call a hinder. According to the rulebook:

3.A.15. Hinder – Any transient element or occurrence not caused by a player that adversely impacts play, not including permanent objects.

The rule then goes on to list several examples, but the key point is that the rule uses the words "in the opinion of the referee, impacted the player's ability to make a play on the ball." If I were the referee and witnessed someone stopping play because their partner was "in the way" I would award the rally to their opponents. This is because of rules 7.I. and 7.M.

A fault (and resulting dead ball) will be declared for the following:

7.I. A live ball that is stopped by a player before it becomes dead (e.g., catching or stopping a ball in flight before it makes contact with the playing surface). The fault is on the player who stopped the ball.

7.M. A hinder called by a player that is determined by the referee to be invalid.

Loud noises from other courts are generally part of the game and I would not normally award a hinder. However, having witnessed collisions between partners on an adjacent court that created a large amount of disruption (players falling and yelling loudly), I would probably award a hinder.

Since you're playing recreationally (without a referee) does this mean you can't go forward? Of course not. There's a great little paragraph on page 2 of the 2023 rulebook that covers a situation like this.

Players strive to cooperate when confronted with a situation not covered by the Rulebook. Possible outcomes can be a replay, allowing the rally to stand, or in extreme cases, asking for a referee to resolve a dispute.

It is always an option in recreation play to replay the rally, but many people play in tournaments the same way they do in rec play. For your own peace of mind, I would pay attention to rule 13.D.1.a. which falls under "Non-officiated Play."

13.D.1.a. In the spirit of good sportsmanship, players are expected to call any type of fault on themselves as soon as the fault is committed or detected.

I hope this helps and I'll see you on court.


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