USAPA Official Rules
Paddle Material Specifications (pdf file) of the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP)
Paddle Testing Form Manufacturers use this form to submit paddles for testing.
List of Commercial Paddles Not Meeting USAPA and IFP Specifications.
* Updated October 23, 2011: Performance One Paddles (Pop) Model Q1, Pickleball Now paddles.
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New 2013 RulebooksThe October 1, 2013 edition of the rulebook is available.
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Rule Revision October 1, 20132.E.5. Alterations: The only alterations that can be made to a commercial paddle are changes to the grip, adding an edge guard, and adding name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face. These decals/markings can extend no farther than 1" (25.4 mm) above the top of the handle nor more than 1/2" (12.7 mm) from the outer edge of a paddle, or paddle edge guard if in place. Altered paddles must meet all specifications. Homemade paddles are not permitted. (Effective January 1, 2014)
Rule Revision July 1, 2013The definition of Permanent Object was moved from paragraph 4.E.2 to the list of definitions in paragraph 3.S.
Rule Revision February 9, 201312.L. Coaching. Players may consult with any person during time-outs and between games. Once the game has begun, except during time-outs, any communication between a player and any person not on the court, if determined by the referee to be coaching, shall result in a technical warning to the offending player or team and a verbal warning to spectators. If the communication occurs a second time, it shall result in a technical foul and a point will be awarded to the opponent. (Revised February, 2013)
Rule Revision February 1, 2013The items in red below were added to define terms. There is no intended change to the way in which the serve should be made.
4.A. Serve Motion. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level).
4.A.1. Underhand Defined. The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball (paddle head is that part of the paddle excluding handle. The highest point of the paddle head cannot be above any part of line formed where the wrist joint bends).
Rule Change January 15, 201312.H. Distractions. Players may not yell, stamp their feet, or otherwise try to distract an opponent when the opponent is about to play the ball. A player, or anything the player is wearing or carrying, may not cross the plane of the net (or the extension of the net beyond the posts) except when striking the ball. Note: In Doubles, team communication shall not normally be considered a distraction. However, loud communication at the time the opponent is about to strike the ball may be considered a distraction. If, in the judgment of the referee, a distraction has occurred, it shall result in the loss of the rally. (revised January 15, 2013)
Rule Changes June 23, 2012Rule 2.E.8 has been added to enable tournament directors to more easily identify paddles that meet USAPA specifications. As a consequence of 2.E.8, 2.E.5 was modified to delete homemade paddles.
2.E.8 Model Designation. The manufacturer must have a clearly marked brand and model name or model number on the paddle. Paddles with different core material, surface material, or other significant differences must have a unique name or number. Each unique model must have been offered for sale to the general public and samples of each unique model must have been submitted to the USAPA and passed USAPA tests. Paddles used in USAPA sanctioned tournaments after January 1, 2014 must conform to this rule.
Rule 9.D was revised to avoid a possible misinterpretation. There is no intended change in the meaning.
9.D. If a player
Rule Changes January 15, 2012The following comment was added under paragraph 9.B to clarify what is meant by the "act of volleying the ball." There is no change in the meaning of the rule.
IFP Comment: The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action. If the paddle touches the non-volley zone during the swing, it is a fault regardless of whether the touch occurred before or after contacting the ball.
The following rule was added.
12. M. One Paddle. A player shall not use or carry more than one paddle during a rally.
New Rule February 21, 2011The following paragraph regarding portable net systems that have a horizontal bar that spans the distance between the net posts has been added to the official rules. Examples of such systems are shown in the first three photos on this page including the USAPA Portable Net System.
12.J.5. When net systems have a horizontal bar that may include a center base: If the ball hits the horizontal bar or the center base before going over the net, it is a fault. If the ball goes over the net and then hits the horizontal bar, the ball is still in play. If the ball goes over the net and then hits center base or the ball gets caught between the net and the horizontal bar before touching the court, it is a let and must be replayed.