New To Pickleball And Confused About Faults? This Beginner's Guide Has You Covered

New to Pickleball and Confused About Faults? This Beginner’s Guide Has You Covered

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Pickleball faults end the rally and result in either a point for the opponent or a loss of serve. The most common faults for beginners are:

  • Serving into the net or out of bounds. The serve must land in the diagonal service court.
  • Hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds during a rally. Shots must stay within boundary lines.
  • Volleying from inside the “kitchen” – the non-volley zone within 7 feet of the net. Players can’t volley a ball while standing in this area.
  • Double-bouncing. Each team must hit the ball after one bounce. Letting the ball bounce twice is a fault.
  • Serving above the waist. Underhand serves must be below waist level with an upward swing.
  • Foot faults on the serve. The server’s feet can’t touch outside the court boundaries.

Knowing the common faults will help beginners avoid mistakes during play. With practice, pickleball faults become less frequent. Remember, faults are part of learning and make the game fun!

Pickleball, the fast-growing racket sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has some unique rules that can confuse newcomers.

One of the most common areas of confusion is pickleball faults – errors that end the rally and result in either a point for the opponent or loss of serve.

Understanding the common faults will help beginner pickleball players avoid mistakes and improve their game. This guide covers the key pickleball faults to know as a new player.

What Exactly is a Fault in Pickleball?

A fault in pickleball occurs when a player commits an infraction of the rules during play. There are several different types of faults, but they all have the same outcome – immediately ending the rally and awarding the point or serve to the opposing team. Some common examples of faults include:

  • Hitting the ball into the net
  • Hitting the ball out of bounds
  • Volleying from inside the kitchen
  • Double bouncing the ball
  • Serving above the waist
  • Foot faulting on the serve

Knowing the pickleball faults to avoid will help you quickly improve as a beginner and avoid losing points and serves due to simple mistakes. Let’s look at some of the most common faults in more detail.

Serving Faults

Since the serve initiates every point in pickleball, mastering legal serve technique is crucial. Two of the most frequent serving faults are:

Serving Into the Net

One of the most common serving faults is hitting the ball into the net. On the serve, the ball must clear the net and land inside the confines of the diagonal service court. Hitting the net or landing outside the service area is a fault, resulting in loss of serve.

This serving fault typically occurs because beginners are still developing consistent serve technique and aim. As your serve skills improve with practice, you’ll hit fewer shots into the net. Proper toss, form, aim, and follow-through will all help avoid netted serves.

Foot Faulting

Foot faulting happens when the server’s foot touches the court or outside the court as they strike the ball. Both feet must remain behind the back line while making contact with the ball on the serve. Even the slightest foot slip can result in a fault.

This mistake is common when first learning pickleball footwork. With increased experience moving and balancing during the serve motion, foot faulting will become less frequent. Making sure not to start the serve motion until completely stationary can help avoid this error.

Faults During the Rally

After the serve, additional faults can occur during the rally:

Hitting Out of Bounds

Any time the ball lands outside the court boundaries, including the non-volley zone, a fault is called. All shots during a rally must land inside the painted lines on the court to remain in play.

New players often misjudge the angles required to keep shots in bounds. With more extensive practice placing shots accurately, out of bounds faults should diminish.

Volleying From the Kitchen

The kitchen refers to the 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net. Players are not permitted to volley a ball while standing inside this zone. The ball must bounce once before striking a volley in the kitchen.

This rule prevents players from crowding the net and volleying at close range. Beginners may step into the kitchen accidentally when moving aggressively toward the non-volley zone. Being aware of your footwork around the kitchen will help avoid this frequent fault.

Double Bounce

After the ball is served, each team must hit it after one bounce. Letting the ball bounce twice on a team’s side before striking it is a fault.

New players can sometimes miscommunicate on court coverage, allowing the ball to double bounce. Developing quick reaction time and coordination with your partner will help prevent this mistake.

Other Pickleball Faults

Some additional faults that beginners should know are:

  • Serving above the waist – Underhand serves must be below waist level with an upward swing. High tosses can cause beginners to hit serves above the waist fault line.
  • Non-server fault – Only the serving team can fault on the serve. The returning team cannot commit a fault until after the ball is in play.
  • Third shot fault – The team serving must allow the ball to bounce before playing their third shot. Volleying the third shot is a fault.
  • Touching the net – Players cannot touch the net during play. Incidental contact is permitted as long as it doesn’t interfere with a volley or shot.
  • Carries and double hits – The ball must be hit cleanly once on each play. Carrying or double-hitting the ball results in a fault.

By learning the common pickleball faults, new players can avoid errors and operate within the rules. While faults are inevitable when first starting out, they will diminish significantly with frequent play and practice.

Why Do Faults Occur Frequently in Pickleball for Beginners?

For newcomers to the game, pickleball faults occur regularly for several understandable reasons:

Lack of Familiarity With the Rules

Many beginners are still learning the nuances of pickleball rules and don’t yet have an intuitive grasp of what constitutes a fault. Unfamiliarity leads to unintentional infractions. As the rules become second nature, faults from rule confusion will decrease.

Insufficient Control and Accuracy

Novice players lack stroke control and shot placement skills. Missed hits into the net and bounds are common without refined technique. Faults due to errant hits diminish as abilities improve.

Inexperience With Unique Skills

Unique pickleball skills like volleying, dinking, serving low, and avoiding the kitchen take time and practice to master. Faults happen frequently when first attempting these new, specialized techniques.

Miscommunication With a Partner

For doubles play, inexperience working cooperatively and communicating with a partner contributes to faults. As teamwork skills build, faults from miscommunication happen less often.

Balancing Multiple Demands

Pickleball challenges new players with many simultaneous mental, strategic, and physical demands. Learning to balance court positioning, shot selection, rules, and footwork is challenging and causes faults.

With more time on the court, pickleball faults become less frequent as all-around skills develop. Patience and a constructive attitude are key for pickleball beginners and their faults.

How Do Faults Affect Pickleball Scoring and Serving?

Faults have specific ramifications in pickleball related to scoring and serving:

  • The opponent immediately earns a point when a fault occurs during a rally.
  • When a fault happens on the serve, only the first serve is lost. The server gets a second serve attempt.
  • Two consecutive faults on the serve, however, result in a “loss of serve”. The opposing side then gains the serve and a point.
  • Players switch serving sides after a fault leading to loss of serve. This helps ensure each side serves from both ends over the course of a game.
  • The server’s partner gains the serve after the server loses it twice. Serving switches between partners each time loss of serve happens.
  • At the start of each new game, the initial server begins serving from the right-hand side.

Knowing the scoring ramifications of faults enables players to accurately administer the rules during recreational play.

Tips for Reducing Pickleball Faults as a Beginner

While faults are a typical part of the learning process, there are some tips to help beginners reduce errors:

  • Practice serving technique – Many faults originate from the serve. Dedicated practice improves serving accuracy and consistency.
  • Focus on footwork and balance – Much of pickleball involves quick foot speed and weight transfers. Sound footwork minimizes errors.
  • Master shot fundamentals – Develop control with volleys, groundstrokes, and dinks using proper form and swing path.
  • strengthen reaction time – Quick reflexes help avoid double bounces and reduce faults. Pickleball reaction time improves with regular play.
  • Learn pickleball vocabulary – Knowing the terminology helps ensure rules and faults are understood.
  • Watch higher-level play – Observe experienced players to understand proper technique and strategy to reduce faults.
  • Ask questions – Seek feedback from seasoned pickleball players to clear up any confusion about faults.
  • Have fun! – Don’t let faults dampen your enjoyment as a beginner. Mistakes are part of the game.

With attentive practice and match experience, pickleball faults will diminish, and abilities will improve. But don’t forget, even the pros make errors, so keep your sense of humor!

Common Pickleball Faults FAQs

What is the most common fault in pickleball?

Hitting the ball into the net is the most frequent fault, especially on serves. Netted shots result from misjudged angles and insufficient power generation with the swing.

What happens if both partners on a team commit faults on their serves?

If one partner faults twice and loses the serve, then the other partner also faults twice, the opposing team receives the ball and a point. Serve switches sides after dual partner faults.

Can the receiver’s partner call faults?

No, only the receiver can call a fault on the serve. After the ball is in play following the serve, any opposing player can call a fault.

Is there a limit on foot faults before a call is made?

No leniency exists for foot faults. According to the rules, this fault must be called each and every time it occurs on the serve.

What should you do if you disagree with a fault called by your opponents?

If a fault is called by the opponents that you don’t believe occurred, discuss it cordially with them and try to come to an agreement. If needed, re-serve the point to avoid conflict.

What happens if you fault when returning service?

Unlike on the serve itself, faulting while returning serve does not result in loss of point or serve since the ball was already in play after being served successfully. Play simply stops and resumes with re-serve.

Conclusion: Faults Are Part of the Fun

While pickleball faults may be frustrating initially, they are an inevitable component of learning the game. With the right attitude, beginners should view faults as opportunities to improve. They motivate you to refine skills that may need more practice.

The sense of accomplishment from seeing your faults diminish over time is very rewarding. So embrace the faults with patience and humility, maintain your sense of humor, and enjoy the thrill of a great rally when you and your opponents are fault-free!


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