A double hit in pickleball happens when a player hits the ball two times in a row during a return. Double hits are allowed in pickleball, but only if they follow certain rules. If a double hit breaks any of the rules, it will be called a fault.
When is a Double Hit Legal in Pickleball?
For a double hit to be legal in pickleball, it must meet these 4 requirements:
- It must be unintentional.
- The player cannot plan or try to hit the ball twice on purpose. It must happen by accident.
- It must be continuous.
- The two hits must happen right after each other in one flowing motion. There cannot be a pause or break between the two hits.
- It must go in one direction.
- Both hits must send the ball in the same direction across the net. The ball cannot change directions between the two hits.
- Only one player can hit the ball.
- Only the same player who hit the ball the first time can hit it again for the double hit. Another player cannot help hit the ball for the second hit.
If the double hit meets these 4 rules, then it is a legal hit in pickleball. But if it breaks any of these rules, it will be called a fault.
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Examples of Legal Double Hits
Here are some examples of legal double hits in pickleball:
Accidental Double Hit
Sarah is returning a fast shot from her opponent. She swing her paddle to hit it back, but accidentally mis-hits the ball and taps it lightly. It bounces off her paddle and she then quickly hits it again in one swift motion to return it over the net.
This is legal because it was unintentional, continuous, went in the same direction, and only touched Sarah’s paddle.
Blocked Shot Bounces Back
Mark tries to block a hard shot at the net. The ball hits the face of his paddle and bounces straight back to him. In one flowing motion, Mark hits the ball again to return it over the net.
This is legal because Mark could not react fast enough, it happened quickly in one motion, the ball did not change direction, and only Mark’s paddle hit it.
Spin Shot Rattles Paddle
Jessica hits a spinning shot with heavy backspin. Amy gets her paddle on it to return it, but the sharp backspin makes the ball rattle against the face of her paddle. Amy manages to hit the ball again in one continuous shot to return the spin shot over the net.
This is a legal double hit because the tricky spin made the second hit unavoidable, and it followed all other rules.
Examples of Illegal Double Hits
Here are some examples of illegal double hits that would be called as faults:
Intentional Double Hit
Ryan wants to try hitting the ball twice to catch his opponent off guard. He deliberately taps the ball lightly on his first hit to set up the second hit, sending it over the net.
This is illegal because Ryan intentionally planned to hit the ball twice.
Wendy swings at the ball but completely misses. The ball bounces on the court before Wendy can hit it again on her second try.
This is illegal because there was a clear break and pause between the two hits. They did not happen in one continuous motion.
Jake swings at a fast shot, clipping the bottom edge of the ball. The ball spins off his paddle at a sideways angle over the net. Jake quickly adjusts and hits the ball again to send it diagonally across court.
This is illegal because the ball changed direction between the two hits instead of going straight.
Second Player Hits
Tyler and Sarah both try to hit a tricky spin shot. Tyler’s paddle just grazes the ball and redirects it sideways. Before it can bounce, Sarah hits the ball to return it over the net.
This is illegal because two different players hit the ball. Only the first player, Tyler, is allowed to hit the ball twice.
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Why Are Double Hits Allowed?
Double hits are allowed in pickleball to make the game fairer. Quick reaction times are very important in pickleball at higher skill levels. Disallowing all double hits could reward shots that are impossible to defend with one hit.
Double hits reward good strategy and allow both teams to demonstrate skill. But the strict rules prevent players from intentionally abusing double hits to gain an advantage.
Calling Double Hits
In competitive pickleball, players call faults and double hits on themselves. If an opponent believes a player made an illegal double hit, they may appeal to the referee.
Before calling a double hit on an opponent, players must be sure it violates one of the 4 rules. If the opponent’s double hit appears unintentional, continuous, in one direction, and by one player, then it is likely legal.
Double hits often happen very quickly. Unless a player is certain it was illegal, they should avoid calling marginal double hits to maintain a friendly game. Skill level and competitiveness of the match should also be considered.
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Double Hit Rules By Skill Level
The strictness around double hits may vary based on skill level and who is playing. Here are some guidelines for double hits at different player skills:
- Double hits are often accidental, so should generally be allowed.
- Only call clear, intentional, or disruptive double hits.
- Focus on learning rules and having fun over calling faults.
- Call illegal double hits, but avoid marginal calls.
- Give benefit of the doubt on close plays.
- Players have reasonable control and should follow standard rules.
- Follow official double hit rules closely.
- Call infractions if they violate the 4 requirements.
- Players have good control and should avoid illegal double hits.
- Enforce strict double hit rules according to the official rulebook.
- Call all illegal double hits as faults.
- Top competition demands disciplined play.
No matter the skill level, avoid excessive or argumentative fault calling. Keep the match fun and fair.
How Can You Avoid Illegal Double Hits?
With practice, players can reduce unintentional double hits and avoid making illegal hits. Here are some tips:
- Keep your paddle up and watch the ball closely to be ready.
- Move your feet to get in position. Don’t swing too early or late.
- Use a controlled grip and smooth motion. Don’t tense up.
- Hit the ball out in front of you. Don’t let it get too close.
- Try paddle models with a larger sweet spot that are more forgiving.
- Take lessons to improve timing, positioning, and swing mechanics.
- Play often to get experience returning different shots.
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A double hit in pickleball means hitting the ball twice during a return. This is legal as long as it is unintentional, continuous, in one direction, and by just one player. Illegal double hits violate one of these 4 rules and result in a fault. Understanding the double hit rules allows you to play by regulations and have fair, competitive games. With practice, players can also reduce unintentional double hits. By mastering both strategy and paddle skills, you can boost your pickleball game.