What Is A Let In Pickleball?

It is not every day you hear about a sport called Pickleball. With such a peculiar name, undoubtedly, alongside it comes an array of unique and interesting rules and terms, too. 

What Is A Let In Pickleball

One of these rules includes ‘Let’. Typically, when it comes to pickleball rules, this is one of the most misunderstood ones. As such, in the guide, we aim to explore everything you need to know about the term. 

In addition to this, the peculiarities of play will also be covered here, including servicing criteria and recent updates, as well. 

Even though this rule is now banned in the game of pickleball, understanding what this term means and how it is played is important.  

You may be wondering why it is important. Well, this rule has the ability to completely change the pattern of the game. 

In addition to this, it goes against all the other pickleball rules – making it superlative and uncommon. Moreover, a player could use this move to confuse an opponent or take advantage of someone else using this serve. 

Therefore, having a clear understanding of the rule helps in the game’s overall fairness. 

With this in mind, in the article, we will explore everything you need to know about the mysterious ‘Let’. 

What Does Let Mean?

When someone serves a ‘Let’ in pickleball, it essentially means ‘let’s do it again’. For instance, when in play, if the serving team were to strike the ball and it touches the net (although flies over it) and lands on the opponent’s ground, then this is considered a let serve. 

However, that said, it is important to remember that if the ball was to land in the kitchen, after touching the net, then this wouldn’t be considered a let serve. 

This rule was simply introduced to allow the player another go at serving without having to call a penalty or a foul. 

How Many Times Can You Use a Let Serve?

In today’s pickleball, this rule is no longer allowed in the game. However, when it was applicable, you could use this serve an unlimited amount of times. 

Similar to tennis, players are able to use the let serve how many times they wanted, however, only if it was met by specific criteria when played. 

Where Does The Term Come From?

It is always interesting to explore the etymology of a specific term, and here, the theories are incredibly logical. 

One of the most interesting facts is that this term actually came from tennis. If you have ever played pickleball, you’ll know that it is a unique combination of ping pong and tennis – all containing very similar rules. 

As such, it is generally believed that pickleball borrowed the let serve rule from its tennis counterparts (Also check out How Is Pickleball Different From Tennis?). 

A different theory is that it came from the French term ‘filet’, which is translated to ‘net’. Once shortened, the word turns into ‘let’. 

Another assumption is that the word comes from ‘Letian’, an old Saxon word. If you were to check the meaning, it translates to ‘to hinder, obstruct, and delay’. 

Whichever theory is considered the most convincing to you, just know that it doesn’t matter once played.

How To Play The Let Serve in Pickleball?

When you’re playing the let serve, two conditions need to be met first. These include:

  • The ball lands on the other side, beyond the non-volley zone
  • It touches the net. 

If you strike the ball and it falls under this criteria, then the move can be replayed. Here, you’re allowed to make the serve once again, potentially altering the game in your favor. 

That said, the serve should also be legal and follow the following pickleball rules, too. For instance:

  • The serve should be played underhand. 
  • The player needs to keep one of their feet behind the kitchen. 
  • Once the paddle makes contact with the ball, it needs to remain under the wrist. 

Changes To The Let Rule

In 2021, the let rule in pickleball was removed from the game. As such, referees or players are no longer able to call service when it comes to the game. 

What Is A Let In Pickleball (1)

If this rule was called in the game – whether this was out of habit or forgotten – the team or particular player is sanctioned and will receive a minus point. 

Even though this redaction displeased some players, it was approved in 2021 as part of the USAPA rulebook. 

Why Was The Let Rule Removed?

It is only natural for people to wonder why the let rule was removed from the committee. Even though the subtraction may have seemed sudden, the rule committee had its reasons. 

Below, we have outlined the reasons why the committee removed the let rule from the game. These include:

  • What is best for the officials 
  • What is best for the platers
  • It preserves the integrity of the game

What Are The Benefits Of Removing The Rule?

While the removal of the rule wasn’t agreed upon by some of the players, there is no doubt that it comes with its particular benefits. For instance:

  • Thanks to its removal, a lot of time was spent determining whether or not the let serve as applicable can be saved. 
  • Without the let serve, there is no reason to redo and stop the game, as such, it speeds up the game. 
  • The competitive and fun aspect of the game remains without any conflict or cheating. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to pickleball, there are a lot of interesting and unique rules. One of which includes the let rule. 

While this rule isn’t included in the game anymore, there are a lot of benefits to knowing what it is and how it is played. For instance, if the serve was played by accident by another player. 

Hopefully, this guide has informed you about everything you need to know about the let serve in pickleball.

Damien Dansel
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