Pickleball is a popular paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is played with a paddle and a plastic ball on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net. Like any sport, pickleball has its own unique terminology that players use to communicate during gameplay. One such term often heard on pickleball courts is “Bounce it!” But what exactly does this mean?
The Meaning of “Bounce It”
“Bounce it!” is a call made by a pickleball player to their teammate to indicate that they should let the ball bounce instead of hitting it. It is typically used when the player believes the incoming ball will land out of bounds.
By calling “Bounce it!”, they are instructing their partner to avoid hitting the ball and just let it bounce outside the court boundary lines. This allows the opposing team to make the error and gives up the point.
Why Players Call “Bounce It!”
There are two main reasons why a pickleball player will call out “Bounce it!” to their teammate:
- They think the ball will land out of bounds if left untouched. Shouting “Bounce it!” prevents their partner from making unnecessary contact.
- They want to communicate clearly to avoid confusion. Calling it out makes their intention clear so their partner can react appropriately.
In both cases, the goal is to avoid hitting the ball and allow it to go out of bounds untouched. This results in the optimal outcome – the opponents hit the ball out and lose the point.
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When to Call “Bounce It!”
Timing is critical when calling “Bounce it!” in pickleball. Here are some key times when you may need to make this call:
On Returns Hit Deep or Wide
If the opposing team hits a return very deep or wide to the edges of the court, it often makes sense to let it bounce out. Calling “Bounce it!” alerts your partner so they don’t instinctively go for the ball.
On Balls With Unclear Trajectories
Sometimes a ball takes an unpredictable trajectory after clipping the net or an opponent’s paddle. If you read it as heading out, call “Bounce it!” right away so your partner knows your judgement.
When Your Partner is Out of Position
If your partner is caught out of position and has no play on the ball, a “Bounce it!” call can save them from overextending or making contact that results in a fault.
On Potential Winner Shots
Occasionally, you may opt to let what looks like a clear winner shot from the opponents bounce out even if you could return it. Calling “Bounce it!” eliminates anyambiguity.
Proper Use of “Bounce It!”
While calling “Bounce it!” can be a helpful tactic, it should be used judiciously and appropriately. Here are some guidelines for using it effectively:
- Make the call loud and clear so your partner definitely hears it. Do not mumble or call half-heartedly.
- Call it early as the ball is still in the air, rather than at the last second. This gives your partner more reaction time.
- Use it selectively on balls you are confident will land out. Do not overuse “Bounce it!” on balls that may potentially be in.
- If in doubt, opt to play the ball rather than calling “Bounce it!” incorrectly. It is better to play it safely.
- Never make a “Bounce it!” call on your partner’s serve return. This would be interference and is not allowed. Only call it on your own returns.
Partner Responsibilities After “Bounce It!” is Called
Once a teammate calls “Bounce it!”, the partner should:
- Avoid any contact with the ball and allow it to bounce untouched. Do not make a partial swing at it.
- Hold their ready position and be prepared to resume play quickly after the ball lands out.
- Not overrule the call unless fully certain the ball would land in bounds. Trust your partner’s judgement.
- Be ready to play the ball if it surprisingly lands in. While unlikely, your partner could make an inaccurate “Bounce it!” call.
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“Bounce It!” vs Let It Bounce
In pickleball, you will also hear players calling “Let it bounce!”. This is slightly different from “Bounce it!”
Let it bounce!” means you intend to let the ball bounce before returning it. You still plan on hitting the ball, just off the bounce.
“Bounce it!” means you will not hit the ball at all and want your partner to avoid contact completely.
So “Let it bounce!” indicates a bounced return, while “Bounce it!” indicates no return at all.
“Bounce It!” in Official Pickleball Rules
While casual players use “Bounce it!” regularly in matches, it is not an officially recognized call in the pickleball rule book. However, competitive players still use it for communication.
Other verbal calls like “Fault” and “Out” are recognized as official calls when made promptly and loudly. But there is no rule governing use of “Bounce it!”.
Players should agree beforehand if they want to allow “Bounce it!” calls in their match or not. Technically it could be considered player interference since it is not an officially sanctioned call.
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The Double Bounce Rule
There is one important pickleball rule relating to letting the ball bounce that players must remember. This is the double bounce rule.
The double bounce rule states that both the serve and service return must bounce before being struck by the paddle. The ball can only be hit in the air on subsequent shots after the return.
This means you cannot call “Bounce it!” on the serve itself or the return. These shots must bounce first. However, “Bounce it!” can be used appropriately on any other shot thereafter.
If a player violates the double bounce rule, it is a fault. So while “Bounce it!” is useful communication, it should not be applied on the first two shots in a rally.
In summary, calling “Bounce it!” in pickleball allows partners to coordinate letting balls land out of bounds instead of making unnecessary contact. It is an important communication tool to avoid errors and win points. While not an official rule, it has become common practice in pickleball games when used properly and strategically. Knowing when and how to effectively use “Bounce it!” can give teams an edge.