The [absolute] worst 2023 pickleball rule!

They don’t get worse than this…

Pickleball rules and regulations are reviewed each year. Select committees of USA Pickleball look for ways to make the sport of pickleball more fair, cut down on ambiguous language and find ways to create value for these committees.

If there were absolutely no changes for a year then why would a committee be needed? They must find value in their existence.

From what we can tell they do spend a fair amount of time trying to eliminate confusing rules and guidances.

And remember…

The sport is only 70 years old or so. Many rules were originally “brainstormed” by a couple of individuals then modified over the years.

It’s only when pickleball caught on across the country in the last few years that rules were taken more seriously. Besides: there is a ton of money invested in pickleball and everyone want a piece of the action (well, a handsome return on their investment if nothing else).

Back to the rules:

The rules committee has the authority to propose changes to be voted on by the members of USA Pickleball.

See also: The 7 rules of pickleball that everyone forgets

There were more than 75 proposed rule changes for 2023 – only a handful made the final cut and this one became effective January 1, 2023.

Keep in mind, too, that the basic rules of pickleball have not changed.

Avoid Clothes that Match the Color of the Pickleball

This change in the pickleball rulebook isn’t specifically a “rules” change.

It is, however, in the beginning of the rulebook in a section called “The Players”. This is the area where they outline general guidelines for the game, what to expect, and certain etiquette.

For 2023, the most absurd and rediculous change states:

“Players [should] avoid wearing clothing that closely matches the ball color.”

pickleball clothing clash

Pickleball Rule 2.G.1 was also updated to state that pickleball clothing is inappropriate if it “approximates” the color of the pickleball (is it “pickleballs” or “pickleball balls”?).

pickleball rule 2.g.1
angry over pickleball clothing

Pickleball tournament directors (TD’s) have always understood they have the ability to request a clothing substitution. A statement like this should be used as a last resort, and has now been stated more clearly than ever.

Pickleball clothing is a real simple way to express your identity – whether that image is concerned with competence, sexuality, or age. Making players change outfits that may be inappropriate, or a ball-clashing color is not a healthy practice to help promote the sport of pickleball. We want players to feel comfortable with who they are while fostering belonging and community.

Who does this new guidance and rule affect?

For now, the new rule forbids clothing that may be distracting or inappropriate in pickleball impacts those players in tournaments. These pickleball tournaments always have a tournament director. It would be up to him/her to determine who is in violation.

And isn’t that very subjective?

Who can say emphatically what is inappropriate clothing? Let’s say I believe in a current cause that may ruffle others’ feathers… will I be asked to head to the locker room and change into something that conforms to the tournament directors’ beliefs?

And the color?

What experienced pickleball player is going to show up at a tournament all hyped on winning and be wearing a neon yellow shirt? And solely with the intention of throwing off his opponent. Perhaps we’re naïve but think it’s highly improbable. Besides, does it happen often enough that the guidance was added, and the rule was updated?

It all boils down to this… what’s next for clothing restrictions?

We may sound silly taking this to the next level – but there may be other rules coming soon.

  • no long sleeves
  • no buttons
  • no branded apparel not approved by USA Pickleball
  • no shorts longer than 9″
  • no material not eco-friendly
  • no sneakers with more than 2 colors

Dollars to doughnuts, this is not that last you will hear on this.

The rules committee will either get more feedback on this or simply take it upon themselves to impose other restrictions. And we all know restrictions are never eased or relieved – they just get tighter (oh, no tight pants, by the way).

See also this crazy rule: Forbidden in pickleball: earbuds and hearing aids!

Conclusion – Your Takeaways

Worst Pickleball Rules – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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