Just like most sports, pickleball goes through an annual review of the game. In particular, rules are reviewed and changed, implemented or modified.
These rules are the responsibility of the USA Pickleball Rules Committee.
One could argue, that like most committees that are created, that they feel the obligation to make changes regardless of how silly or unimportant they may be. It gives them “something to do” and defines their purpose. If there were no rule changes for a year in pickleball then why would you need a rules committee – get the point? There has to be changes every year.
Pickleball 2023 rule changes are sleepers
One major pickleball change is the elimination of the one-handed pre-spin serve. This has been a controversial rule for many years and the decision to finally eliminate it will surely please some players and frustrate others. Another big change is that players who are hit with the pickleball will now be awarded a point. This is a significant change as it will likely lead to more aggressive play. Lastly, the option to use rally scoring in singles and doubles matches failed again and will not be available.
Keep in mind, too, that the basic rules of pickleball have not changed.
FREE download of the rules of pickleball
There were more than 75 proposed rule changes for 2023 – only a handful made the final cut and these new changes became effective January 1, 2023.
2023 Pickleball Rule Changes – Top 6!
1. Elimination of the one-handed pre-spin serve
The pickleball server is no longer allowed to impart manipulation or spin on the release of the pickleball ball prior to the serve.
If the referee (in a match with a referee) or receiver (in a match without a referee) determines that manipulation or spin has been put on the ball (or the release of the ball is not visible) the referee or receiver can immediately call for a replay.
This rule change will be difficult to enforce and it can be very subjective – which may lead to one more disagreement players may have with each other. Drop serving the ball would eliminate any question of a pre-spin.
Any spin on the ball would be stopped in its tracks when the ball hits/bounces off the court. May not be a popular solution but a simply one. Perhaps a committee or task force will be established to review for 2024? We need to keep this game as simple as possible.
2. Avoid clothing color that clashes with the ball color
Oh yes, they did:
There is added language for 2023 pickleball clothing. “Players [should] avoid wearing clothing that closely matches the ball color.”
Well, this is not really a rule change for 2023 but more of a “guidance”; this language was been added one page of the Rule Book.
Further: “A player may be required to change apparel that are inappropriate, including that which approximates the color of the ball.”
Why isn’t this a new pickleball rule for 2023 if it sounds so important?
Well, think about it. It’s like having a dress code at work. Think of the issues if it was an official rule.
Lot going on there. That’s why it was decided to just make the guidance more of a “hey, lets’ all try to play fairly?”. Many speculate that this will be reviewed each year until it does become a rule.
3. Carrying of extra balls
There may be times that you’ll need an extra pickleball as you’re playing – it goes way out of bounds, over a fence, is cracked, etc.
You can carry an extra ball (or balls), but you must make sure that they are not visible to your opponent. This avoids any distraction to your opponent. If they see more than one neon yellow object across the court, it may be confusing.
Place your extra ball in your pocket, wristband pouch or simply tucked under your shirt (shorts?). As long as it’s not visible you’re good. Not too many sports, if any, allow the players to carry an extra ball or two.
If an additional ball falls on the court while playing, a fault will be declared. And it is the fault of the player who dropped it.
4. Player is hit with the pickleball ball
This rule (not really new) makes it simpler and easier to understand.
The “being hit by a pickleball ball rule’ is reinforced that it is indeed a fault on the player who was hit by a ball and not the person who hit the ball.
See what we mean? How was this ambiguous to begin with?
5. Equipment time-outs
Previously, if you broke a paddle or had a wardrobe malfunction, you had to use an allotted time-out – pretty much black-and-white; and that’s 2 minutes.
The new rule for 2023 does not require a time-out to be used and the time rule has changed to a “reasonable duration” of time. We’re hoping players do not take advantage of this and and use the call and time wisely.
6. Rally scoring option
The rally scoring option proposal – where a point is scored on every rally, regardless of who has served – failed. This one is not entirely dead but for 2023 it is. There will be a new task force (committee?) in 2023 to look into this further.
Miscellaneous pickleball rule changes for 2023
Of the more 75 rule changes, only a handful passed. The most impactful pickleball 2023 rule change is the elimination of the one-handed pre-spin serve. This is a rule change that may surprise amateur pickleball players.
There were other small editorial changes that passed, including tightening up wording and making many rules a bit clearer to understand: though nothing that impacts the beginner pickleball player and the occasional recreational player.
Other rules or guidance changes to pickleball in 2023 (keeping this concise):
See also this crazy rule: forbidden in pickleball: earbuds and hearing aids! and the [absolute] worst 2023 pickleball rule!