The 2024 Pickleball Rules Explained: A Simplified Guide to the Latest Changes

If you're a pickleball fanatic like millions of others, get ready for some exciting rule updates coming your way in 2024! Pickleball, the wildly popular game that blends elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, is constantly evolving to become even more fun and fair for players of all ages and skill levels.

Every year, the official rulebook gets a fresh coat of paint with new changes aimed at improving the game. For 2024, the rule-makers at the USA Pickleball (USAP) association have introduced a few key tweaks that every pickler should know about.

From clarifying those tricky "carry" and "double hit" calls to revamping the medical timeout policies, these updates are designed to make pickleball an even more enjoyable and smoothly-run experience. So grab a sports drink and get ready to dive into the juicy details!

No More Accidental Carries: They're All Faults Now


Let's start with one of the biggest changes: how the game handles carries. If you've ever been called for a "carry" before, you know how frustrating it can be when it feels totally unintentional.

A carry happens when you hit the ball in a way that it doesn't bounce cleanly off your paddle – instead, it kind of gets trapped and carried along the paddle face for a split second.

In previous years, only "deliberate" or intentional carries were considered faults. But in 2024, that word "deliberate" is gone from the rulebook, which means any little carry at all is now an automatic fault, period.

Why the change? The USAP decided it was too hard for referees (and even players) to judge whether a carry was truly intentional or not in the heat of a fast-paced rally. By making any carry a fault, it eliminates those judgment calls and potential arguments.

Double Hits Are Still OK (If Done Properly)

Speaking of tricky calls, let's talk double hits. A legal double hit happens when you accidentally hit the ball twice during one continuous paddle swing.

For example, you might slightly mis-hit the ball on your initial swing, but then quickly and smoothly re-hit it a second time to get it over the net.

The key thing to remember is that double hit has to be one smooth, continuous motion. You can't stop, reset, and then hit the ball a second time – that would be a fault.

While the old rulebook used to call some double hits "unintentional," that wording has been removed for 2024. Now, any double hit is allowed as long as it's one fluid motion, regardless of whether you meant to hit it twice or not.


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Watch Out for That Draped Net!

Here's another situation that sometimes comes up during heated pickleball battles: the net gets knocked askew, with part of it draped down onto the court.

If that happens and the ball happens to hit the draped part of the net during a rally, what should you do? Return it like normal?

Nope – in 2024, the rules explicitly state that any time the ball touches a draped net on the court, the entire rally is replayed with no scoring. This new rule applies to both officiated games and casual matches between friends.

The reason? When part of the net is draped down, it can significantly alter the ball's path and bounce in an unfair way. So rather than trying to judge whether the draped net "affected" the rally, the ruling is simple: any touch of a draped net voids that rally entirely.

Extended Timeout Options After Medical Breaks

We've all seen those tough situations where a player gets injured mid-game and needs medical attention. Previously, players could take one 15-minute "medical timeout" to recover, but then had to quickly resume play afterward.

The 2024 rulebook gives players a bit more flexibility in this area. Now, if a player uses their full 15-minute medical timeout but still doesn't feel ready to continue, they can use any of their remaining standard timeouts (usually 2) to extend the break.

For example, if you twist your ankle but it's still too swollen to play after 15 minutes, you could take an 8-minute timeout immediately after to give it more time before resuming.

This change recognizes that 15 minutes may not always be enough time to recover from certain injuries or issues. Giving players their remaining standard timeouts to use provides a nice safety net.

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No More Faults for Wrong Server/Receiver


Have you ever played a game where you accidentally had the wrong server or receiver starting the game, maybe because of a scrambled lineup or confusion? Under the old rules, failing to correct that was considered a fault.

But in 2024, those faults have been completely eliminated from the rulebook. Now, if the wrong player is serving or receiving, the referee will simply correct the error before the next score is called.

And get this – even if an entire rally happens with the wrong server or receiver, that rally will still count! The referee won't stop play but will announce the correction before the next serve.

This rule change just aims to keep the game moving without constant faults and replays over positional mix-ups. As long as the ref catches it quickly, you can keep on pickle-balling!

A Quick Note on Rally Scoring

One potential rule change that was heavily discussed but ultimately postponed for 2024 was the idea of moving to "rally scoring" for pickleball.

Rally scoring means that rather than only the serving team being able to score points, every single rally would be scored regardless of who served. This is how sports like volleyball handle scoring.

While rally scoring could make things simpler and more continuous, the USAP decided to collect more data and player feedback before pulling that trigger. So for now, traditional "only serving team scores" rules remain in 2024.

But who knows – rally scoring may very well become reality in a future pickleball season!

The Main Takeaways for 2024

Between carries, double hits, draped nets, medical timeouts, and server/receiver rules, that's a lot of changes to absorb! Here's a quick review of the key pickleball rule updates for 2024:

  • Any "carry" at all is now an automatic fault, regardless of intent
  • Double hits are allowed as long as it's one smooth, continuous motion
  • If the ball touches a draped/fallen net, the entire rally is replayed
  • Players can use remaining standard timeouts after a medical timeout
  • Wrong server/receiver is corrected with no faults, and rallies with wrong positions count

The spirit behind all these tweaks? Keeping pickleball fair, easy to follow, and fun for all players by removing judgment calls and excessive faults.

So keep these 2024 rules in mind as you play your next pickleball match. The goal is to minimize frustrating stoppages and just let the game flow!

Wrapping Up: The Pickleball Party Continues

While a few rule changes here and there can take some adjusting, they're all part of making the pickleball experience better for everyone involved. The game's meteoric rise in popularity over the past decade is a testament to how much pure enjoyment it brings to players young and old.

As the 2024 season rolls around, embrace these latest rule modifications with open arms (and paddles)! They'll help ensure pickleball remains one of the most accessible, energetic, and downright fun sports to play.

Who knows – maybe you'll free up some time by not dealing with as many faults and controversy. You can spend that extra time perfecting your dink shots instead!

No matter your age or skill level, one thing is certain: the pickleball party isn't slowing down anytime soon. 

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