What Is A Fault In Pickleball?

We know that it can be difficult to learn some of the rules when you’re first learning the ins and outs of pickleball. However, there’s one question that haunts every new player: “What is a fault in pickleball?” 

What Is A Fault In Pickleball?

This is a common question that new players ask, and it’s a reasonable question. A simple answer to this question is that it’s anything that breaks the game’s rules. If your game is forced to a stop, then it’s likely because of a fault. But that’s only the beginning.

There are different ways to cause a fault in pickleball, and it’s essential that you learn. After all, it’s better to know what faults are before you play them. So, let’s take a closer look at different types of faults.

Hitting The Ball Out Of Bounds Is A Fault

One of the most common faults in pickleball is hitting your ball out of the court’s boundary lines. When this happens, the rally is over, and the point where the pickleball’s center makes contact with the court becomes the point of contact.

This point will tell you if the ball is in or out of the court. 

If your ball hits the line, it’s considered in. The same can also be said if it’s directly on the line. However, there’s a difference when you’re serving. When you serve, the ball needs to land beyond the kitchen line.

When a serving ball hits the horizontal boundary line of the non-volley zone, it’s out. If it hits the centerline from the kitchen up to the baseline, it’s not a fault. In fact, that’s still a legal zone. 

You should also ensure that your ball doesn’t fall on your own side of the court when you’re serving, or that will also be considered a fault. Regardless of whether it’s out of bounds or not, this will also lose you your serve.

Ignoring The Two Bounce Rule Is A Fault

When playing pickleball, you must adhere to the two-bounce rule. While other paddle and racquet sports don’t require two bounces, pickleball does. To go into a little more detail, let’s say that you’ve served the ball (You might also want to check out What Is A Let In Pickleball?).

The opposition must wait for the ball to bounce twice before they can hit it back to you. Then, when you return it, you need to wait for it to bounce twice. 

We know that this is a difficult rule for beginners because everyone’s first instinct is to run after the ball and hit it. But if you get too eager, you’ll be subject to a fault. To avoid this, you should serve deep and leave yourself enough room to return the ball.

Volleying In The Kitchen Is A Fault

The kitchen is known as the non-volley zone, so in this area, you’re not allowed to hit the pickleball before it bounces. If you don’t know what the kitchen is, it’s the 14-foot area in the center of the court.

No player is allowed within seven feet of the net when they’re volleying. If you step into the kitchen, you’re subject to a fault.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t stand behind the kitchen line and hit back. So long as you’re not in physical contact with the kitchen, you can still hit a volley back to your opponent.

Keep in mind, though, that if you touch the net or if any part of you lands in the kitchen, you will receive a fault, even if you simply drop your hat. 

The Ball Hitting The Net Is A Fault

What Is A Fault In Pickleball?

When you hit your pickleball into the net and it doesn’t reach your opponent’s side of the net, it’s a fault. Once the ball hits the ground, you’ll lose the rally, and the serve will go to the other team.

However, it will still be legal if your ball hits the top of the net and goes onto your opponent’s side. A serve that taps the net but goes past the kitchen can still be returned.

The same can’t be said if it taps the net but doesn’t go beyond the kitchen line. When this happens, you’ll lose your serve to the other team.

The Pickleball In Play Striking A Permanent Object Is A Fault

If the ball is in play and touches a permanent object, such as a fence, before bouncing, then the team that hit the ball loses the rally and commits a fault.

Yet, if the ball bounces in the boundary of their opponent’s side of the court before hitting a fence, then the player who hit it will win a point instead. 

So long as your point bounces on the opponent’s side of the court before hitting a permanent object, you should be able to earn a point. However, if it doesn’t bounce, it will be a fault.

We should note now that one example of a permanent object is a player, so don’t be alarmed if another player uses you for tactical target practice.

Bouncing The Ball Then Serving Is A Fault

You need to perform underhand serves in pickleball. While you can perform a drop serve, you will be hit with a fault if it hits the ground before you hit it.

Bouncing the ball first is an illegal move, so you’ll need to practice your underhand serves if you struggle with them. 

Final Thoughts

There are a number of faults you have to keep in mind, but these are the ones we felt were the most significant. It can be easy to get caught up in the game, and faults can happen to anyone. The game will become easier to play if you know what they are.

Knowing the faults and knowing how to avoid them is all a part of the game. 

If you want to know more about faults, then feel free to check out the rest of our site. We’ll go into more detail about the rules of pickleball, so you’ll know what to do when you play for real. 

Damien Dansel
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