If you've ever wondered what happens when your pickleball serve decides to cozy up to the net cord, you're in the right place.
Rule changes over the last few years as well as different rules in tournament play have made “let” serves a source of confusion on the pickleball court.
But don’t worry - rather than grinding through the official USA Pickleball rulebook to get an answer, we’ll give you a rundown on the following:
- What happens if a serve hits the net and goes over to your opponent’s side of the court
- The rules surrounding serves hitting the net in pickleball
- What happens when other shots hit the net and go over to the opponent’s side
Ready? Let’s get into it!
Can a Pickleball Serve Hit the Net?
A pickleball serve can hit the net on the way over (this is called a “let”), and it is a legal, playable shot if the ball lands 1) beyond the kitchen line on the opponent’s court and 2) in the the correct area of the opponent’s court (which is the area behind the kitchen line and diagonal from the server). If these conditions are met then the serve is legal and should be played by the non-serving team.
Note that if the serve lands on the kitchen line the serve is a fault, but if it lands on the service line (aka baseline), sideline, or center line in the correct area of the court it is considered in and is playable.
Conversely, if a pickleball serve hits the net and:
- Goes out of bounds or in the wrong service area,
- Bounces on or before the kitchen line, or
- Lands on the server’s side of the net
the serve is a fault and the serve turn is either passed on to the next server or a sideout ensues.
What is the Official Rule on a Let Serve in Pickleball
USA Pickleball’s official rules now state that it is a fault against the server if:
So based on these rules, let serves are considered legal and playable.
Pickleball Let Serve Rule Change 2022
In 2022, USA Pickleball updated the rules on serves hitting the net. Prior to 2022, serves hitting the net would result in another service attempt (similar to how “lets” are handled in tennis where you “let” your opponent hit another serve).
However, this rule was considered to hinder the flow of the game.
So in early 2022 USA Pickleball updated these rules so that a let serve is a live ball and should be played as long as it lands in the correct side of the court and beyond the kitchen line.
What is An Illegal Serve in Pickleball
Servers can still commit other faults on their serves, though. The following would be considered a fault on a serve:
- The ball touching the server or their partner.
- The ball landing in the kitchen, out of bounds, or outside the correct service court.
- The ball hitting the net and failing to land in the opponent’s service court.
What Happens if the Ball Hits the Net in Pickleball on Other Shots During a Rally?
A ball can hit the net in pickleball during a rally and is a legal shot as long as the ball lands inbounds on the other side of the court.
Inbounds is considered anywhere within the legal boundary of the court, defined as the area on or inside the service line and side lines. Note that different rules apply to serves that hit the net.
Here's an example of a ball hitting the net during a rally:
As you can see in this video, during a rally shots can land on either side of the opposing team’s half of the court, as well as in the kitchen, and be legal!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Can a Pickleball Serve Hit the Net
When Can the Ball Hit the Net in Pickleball?
Rally shots (i.e., non-serve shots) can hit the net in pickleball, as long as they make it over and into the opposition's half of the court.
As the official rule change in 2022 dictates, serves are now able to hit the net on the way over as long as they land within the boundaries of the correct service court.
As of 2022 the official rules of pickleball were updated so that these types of serves — previously known as a ‘let’ as in tennis and other racquet sports — should be considered legal shots.
How Must a Serve be Hit in Pickleball?
According to the official pickleball rules, when serving the pickleball must be struck with an underhand motion, with the ball below your waist when it is contacted by the paddle, and with the paddle being swung in an upward arc from underneath the ball.
Further, when serving, you must stand behind the service line (or baseline) and keep at least one foot on the ground until the serve is struck. The pickleball must be below your waist, with the highest point of the paddle below your wrist as the ball is struck.
How Many Let Serves are Allowed in Pickleball?
As of 2022, let serves are now legal and playable as long as the ball lands in the correct part of the service area after touching the net. So, unlike tennis, there is no “let” or redo in pickleball if the serve hits the net.
Can You Hit a Let Serve in Pickleball
Yes - let serves are legal and should not be replayed. If a ball hits the net on a serve and lands in the correct service area of the court, it is a legal shot and the point and rally should continue.
What is a Nasty Nelson in Pickleball?
The Nasty Nelson is a trick serve that involves purposefully hitting the ball directly at the opposing players. The goal? To force a fault either by making the ball hit the opposing player’s body, or making them hit the ball prior to it bouncing.
Technically, this is a legal move and can be quite effective (particularly if the opposition isn’t paying much attention). But beware, it may not win you many friends on the court!