IFP and the USAPA have announced rule changes for 2022. Here are the the most significant changes:
In 2022, a player can spin the ball before striking it on the serve, but only one hand at a time can contact the ball before the ball is hit. No foreign substances, material, apparatus, or additional body parts can be applied to the hand or aid the hand that releases the pickleball.
The Drop Serve
No changes were made to the drop serve other than to remove its Provisional status.
Wrong Score Called
The rules concerning what happens if the wrong score is called by a player or a referee have changed. If a player thinks a wrong score has been called, a player may stop play to ask for a correction before the ball is served. If it has been served, the rally is to be played out and the score correction (if any) is made before the next serve occurs.
A Dropped Ball
In non-officiated matches, it is not uncommon for a player to carry an extra ball. If an extra ball is carried, it must not be visible to the opponent. If a player accidentally drops an extra ball during a rally, it will result in a fault. This does not apply in an officiated match because the referee is responsible for removing any extra pickleballs from play.
Medical Time-outs Called by a Referee
If a referee, in the interest of player safety, determines that either medical personnel or the Tournament Director should be consulted for a player health issue, that time-out is not chargeable to the player as a medical time-out. The player retains the right to call their own medical time out later in the match, if needed.
A referee may now issue verbal warnings for more than just profanity. Any situation that could result in a Technical Warning may instead be addressed by the referee as a verbal warning. Only one verbal warning per match, no matter what the infractions, may be issued to a team, or player in singles.
Calling the Score After a 15 Second Warning
Instead of a referee calling the score immediately after the 15 second warning expires, the referee will call the score after the players are ready, or should be ready.
When Can a Technical Warning or Foul be Called?
Referees are empowered to issue Technical Warnings or Technical Fouls for various reasons but it has been unclear exactly when a technical should be announced. The 2022 rules now make it clear that a referee will not stop a rally to call a technical warning or foul on an offending team. Any technical warnings or fouls will be assessed after the rally is over.
While some sports allow coaching during active play, pickleball does not. Since it is possible that a player could receive coaching via earbuds, earbuds will not be permitted on the court during tournaments with the exception of hearing aids.
Tournament Score for a Retirement
The score recorded for a player or team that elects to “retire' from a match has been revised to allow the actual scores of the match to be recorded. A team retiring may play additional matches in their bracket if any are warranted.