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What is a Fault in Pickleball? All You Need to Know

What is a Fault in Pickleball? All You Need to Know

Pickleball is a sport that is played in the singles and doubles categories. It is necessary to know about all the rules and regulations regarding playing pickleball to avoid any inconvenience. Like other games, pickleball also has rules for smoothly playing the game. The players must know about rules associated with legal plays and penalties such as fault in a pickleball. What is a fault in pickleball?

The fault in pickleball means that one player commits an error or fault and either hits the ball into the net or commits foot fault at the no-volley zone line. The most common faults include volleying the return of serve, and committing a no-volley zone foot fault.

The fault is a term associated with pickleball, and it means anything which can violate the rules of the games and forces the game to stop. It can be against the serving or receiving team. There are about ten faults in a pickleball game.

A fault generally boils down to the rule violation of the game and might result in stopping to reset. It can cost the team a point or even the whole game. It is essential to learn what a fault is and avoid it during pickleball play. Here we will discuss two important points which a player must know about a fault:

1. If you are a part of the receiving team and commit a fault, the other team will receive a point.

2. If you are a part of the serving team and commit a fault, the service is returned to the other team, which forfeits your serving privileges.

3 Common Faults in Pickleball:

There are 3 common types of faults in pickleball sport including:

  • Hitting the ball out of bounds
  • Before bounce, hitting the return of serve
  • Hitting a volley and stepping into the no-volley zone

Other than the three faults listed above, the most common fault is hitting the return of service without letting the ball bounce. All the beginners and new players struggle with this new type of fault like a tennis rule.

Pickleball players from a tennis background can efficiently run up and smash such returns. This kind of fault takes away the service advantage from the serving team and gives it to the return team. 

Ways of Getting a Fault in Pickleball:

Most of the faults in pickleball sport are due to players’ errors, which can be avoided later through practice. Below, we will mention some basic faults recognized by USA Pickleball Association.

Way no 1Hitting the ball into the net on a serve or return
Way no 2Allowing the ball to go out of bounds from your hit
Way no 3Failing to hit the ball before it bounces twice on your side of the court
Way no 4If a player allows anything connected to itself such as paddle or clothes to touch the net while ball is in play, a fault is committed
Way no 5If the ball hits a permanent object such as a tree or a light post before landing on the court then a fault is committed
Way no 6A fault is committed when a kitchen rule is violated which includes returning or initiating a volley from the no-volley zone
Way no 7If the service is made after bouncing on the court, a fault is committed and it must be served out of the air
Way no 8If the player hits the ball before passing the net, a fault is committed
Way no 9If the ball strikes a player or anything even attire of the player, a fault is committed.

10 Faults in a Pickleball:

There are ten types of faults in a pickleball which we will enlist below. It is essential to understand these pickleball faults as it will help a player play a better pickleball game and reduce the faulting chance.

Note: If a fault occurs, a point is earned, or a serve is lost. A fault is seen on service when the ball hits a shot of the service court and includes the non-volley line. It is also considered a fault if a ball is served long behind the back service line, to the wrong court, or out of the bounds.

The ten types of faults are:

  1. The ball touched earlier by the receiving team
  2. The ball touches the permanent Object first
  3. Interference
  4. Attempting volleying in the non-volley zone
  5. A wrong team member serving
  6. Rule of two bounce
  7. The ball hits the net
  8. Out of bounds
  9. Catching the ball
  10. Short serves

1. The Ball Touched Earlier by the Receiving Team:

It is the top rule of the pickleball game. It states clearly that the ball must clear the net before being touched by the receiving team. Other than this, it must bounce on the court before a player can answer after the serve comes across the net.

This kind of bounce is called a volley shot in which the opposing team must wait to return the ball until it comes over the net and into their court. The team must wait until the ball contacts the ground in their area.

In such a case, if a player acts early on these steps, including the ball’s return before hitting the ground or passing the net, the fault is on the receiving team. Such a ruling causes the serving team to gain points. 

2. Ball Touches the Permanent Object First:

The team commits a fault if the ball touches anything other than court before landing on the receiving team’s side. Such faults are seen most often in indoor environments rather than outdoor ones.

Objects which can interfere and causes the ball to commit a fault are basketball rims, ceiling panels, light fixtures, and other equipment.

3. Interference:

It is legal in the pickleball world to position themselves to intimidate the server. A player can face a penalty if they perform a deliberate behavior fault.

Rules help prevent intentional distractions such as screaming, waving arms, jumping, or other interferences. It becomes a fault if a server volleys the ball to the receiving team’s court and hits the player before bouncing on the court.

4. Attempting Volleying in Non-Volley Zone:

This fault is considered the important one in the top five faults in the pickleball world. In this fault, a player volleys or hits the ball in the air while standing with their feet on the non-volley zone.

While serving or volleying the shot, a player cannot step onto or over the no-volleying line. It is a fault against the player’s team when any player, including equipment, clothing, and jewelry, goes into the no-volley zone during a volley play.

It is legal to enter the no-volley zone by making a groundstroke or hitting a ball that bounces within the boundaries.

5. Wrong Team Member Serving:

Pickleball has straightforward and clear rules regarding player order and service sequence. Each team’s responsibility is that they must be in their proper positions once the game starts.

It is also necessary that the right player serve the ball to the correct court. Wrong server results in a side-out or loss of service in which the serving team receives an automatic point for fault, where in response, the wrong player from receiving team responds to the serve.

What is a Fault in Pickleball

6. Rule of Two Bounce:

There is a clear rule in pickleball regarding the ball bouncing twice, which is that it is legal for the team to hit a volley in the air.

The served ball must bounce in the receiver’s service court before the receiving team can return to its other side. Once the ball is still in play and returns to the receiving side, it is open to hit a volley in the air rather than to wait for the ball to bounce.

7. Ball Hits Net:

It is an automatic fault that is seen when the ball hits the net at any time during a serve or its return from the receiving team. The fault depends on whichever team completes the incomplete serve, and how the game will proceed further depends on how the ball will hit the net.

If the ball enters the receiving team’s court after hitting the net, it is a net that allows for a reserve. If the ball lands in the kitchen after hitting the net, it is a fault against the serving team, and they might lose a point in this case.

8. Out of Bounds:

It is considered a fault against the team when the ball falls out of bounds that hits ball and results in a stop play. The blame is on the serving team, and they lose their point.

If receiving team hits the ball out of bounds, the serving team gets the point, and the play ends and ball goes to the receiving team to serve.

9. Catching the Ball:

It is a fault if a ball heads out of bounds and reaches out to catch the ball. A player should let the ball go, resulting in a mark against the team serving it out of bounds.

10. Short Serves:

It is a fault when the server hits the ball over the net for a quick hit falling inside the non-volley zone against the serving team. In such a case, they might lose their turn to serve and the chance to score. The receiving team gets the attempt to rally and the ball to serve.

Method for Avoiding Fault in a Pickleball:

You can follow some tips to avoid a fault in pickleball if you are a new player in this sport. 

Knowing the rulesThe best way to avoid receiving a fault is to play according to the sport’s rules. There is a possibility that you’ll earn faults if you are not familiar with the rules of pickleball games.

It is important for the player to learn as much as they can about the game, which is the only way to avoid rule violations and forfeiting points.
PracticePractice in pickleball makes skilled players. Minor faults are a part of the game, but spending more time on the court can help avoid significant faults.

Service faults can be avoided if a player spends a couple of hours practicing at court and eventually receives fewer faults per game.
The kitchenKitchen also called as no-volley zone is the area where most of the common faults are seen during the pickleball game.

Standing in the kitchen zone and initiating volley here is an automatic fault and is the most common one. It can be avoided by practice.
Toeing the lineToeing the line means getting as close to the kitchen line without crossing it. There are many benefits of toeing the line as it gives more control over receiving and returns the ball.

It is sometimes risky for beginners as there are chances of getting faults.

Foot Faults in Pickleball:

Foot faults in a pickleball can be attempted in two ways in which it is essential to step over the kitchen line if the players know that they will let the ball bounce. The two ways are:

  • The first way says that if the player is at the service line and steps over it while serving, it is a foot fault.
  • The second way says it is a foot fault if the player is at a no-volley zone line and steps over it while hitting a volley shot and carrying the momentum over the line. 
What is a Fault in Pickleball

Types of Foot Faults:

No volley Zone Foot Faults

Service Line Faults

Service Foot Faults

This fault is related to the no-volley zone also called as the kitchen in pickleball.

This fault is specifically related to the serves called as service faults.

It is considered a final type of fault and is called service foot fault which is directly related to the server’s foot position as the player is ready to toss and hit the ball.

This type of fault includes the rule that if a player or anything belonging to the player, such as attire or any other item, goes over the kitchen line during a volley, it is a no-volley zone foot fault.

If a player misses the ball in an attempt to serve or touches any permanent object before service, including walls, fencing, light posts, or tree, it is a service line fault. Similarly, if the ball touches the server’s partner or anything they wear, it is also a service line fault.

If the server’s feet touch the area outside of the sideline plane then it is service foot fault.    

The other point says that if the player returns a volley while standing in the no-volley zone then it is also a no-volley zone foot fault.

If the ball being served lands in the kitchen called a no-volley zone, it is considered a service line fault. Similarly, if the ball hits the net and lands in the kitchen, and if the ball lands outside the service area, it is also a service line fault.

It is a service fault if  the server’s feet go outside of the centerline plane. If the server’s feet touch any part of the court, then it is also a service foot fault.

Also Read:

What Kind of Ball is Used in Pickleball?
What is A Volley in Pickleball? All You Need to Know

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs):

What are the three faults in pickleball?

 There are although ten faults in pickleball in which three common are as below:

  • Hitting the ball out of bounds
  • Volleying the return of serve
  • Committing a no-volley zone foot fault

Elaborate on the five main faults in a pickleball game?

 The five main faults in pickleball are:

  • Hitting the pickleball under the net or in between the net
  • Hitting the pickleball out of bounds
  • Hitting the pickleball on your respective side of the pickleball net
  • Allowing the pickleball to bounce twice
  • Violating a pickleball serve rule

Is the dead ball considered a fault in pickleball?

Any fault committed by a player, either by the referee or any player, results in a through ball. Pickleball is immediately a dead ball upon the first fault.

What is meant by a double fault in pickleball sport?

 When the serving team makes their first fault while staying on the same side of the court, the second partner serves at that moment.

When they make their second fault while remaining in the same court position and turning the ball over to the other team, it is called a double fault in pickleball.

Running into the net in pickleball sport is considered a fault or not?

 There is a general rule that the player can cross only the plane of the pickleball net after striking the pickleball.

If the player attempts anything from these like touching the net, posts, net system, or opposing side of courts, then a fault has occurred, and the player will lose the rally.

Which step is not considered as a fault in pickleball?

If a player steps in the no-volley zone while hitting the ball that has been bounced, then it is not a fault.