Just like in the three sports that pickleball takes inspiration from (badminton, table tennis, and tennis), a fault is essentially anything that breaks the rules of the game and brings the game to a stop.
The three faults that are most common in any given game of pickleball are hitting the ball out of the court, returning a serve before the ball has bounced, and hitting a volley from the no-volley zone (which is also known as the kitchen).
But in total there are as many as ten different faults that can lead to your point, or serve, being forfeited.
The following article will outline each of these faults, as well as everything else you might need to know about what not to do on the pickleball court.
What Is A Pickleball Fault?
In pickleball, a fault is when a player makes an error, be it a foot fault or something else, like hitting the ball into the net or hitting it out of the court. If the game is forced to stop, then a fault has been committed.
The two most important things to remember about faults in pickleball are the following: if you’re on the non-serving side and you commit a fault, the serving team will be awarded a point, but if you’re on the serving side and you commit a fault, then the other team will be awarded the serve.
Once you no longer have the serve, you have no way to score points until you’ve won the serve back.
The only exception to this rule is when you’re playing rally scoring, and a lot of casual players prefer to play in this way.
With rally scoring, a team is awarded a point when they win a rally regardless of whether or not they were serving.
So when you commit a fault while you’re playing with these rules, the other team would get a point even if they weren’t the side that served.
The Most Common Faults In Pickleball
In any given pickleball game, the three most common faults are as follows: returning a serve before the ball has bounced, hitting the ball out of the court, and hitting a valley while in the kitchen (the no-volley zone).
One of the most common faults among beginner players is returning a serve before the ball has bounced on their side of the court. The rules of pickleball state that the ball from a serve must have bounced before you can return it.
The reason this fault is so common is that players are often used to the rules of other games, where you don’t have to wait for the ball to bounce before you can return a serve.
All of the basic faults that are listed in the official rules include hitting the ball into the net (when you’re returning or when you’re serving), hitting the ball out of bounds, letting the ball bounce twice on your side before you’ve managed to return it, and touching the net while the game is in play (even if it’s with your paddle or your clothes).
Also included in the rules are bouncing the ball off an object that’s outside the court (such as a tree or a wall) so that it lands back on the opposition’s court, either starting or returning a volley while you’re in the kitchen, serving the ball before you’ve bounced it, returning the ball before it’s passed over the net and onto your side of the court, and the ball hitting your person (excluding your wrist or your hand).
Foot Faults In Pickleball
There are two different ways you might commit a foot fault while in a game of pickleball. Either you step over the service line while you’re serving, or you step over the no-volley line (into the no-volley zone, or the kitchen) while you’re hitting a volley.
When it comes to the latter, it counts as a fault even if you step over the line after you’ve hit the volley shot, due to the momentum of said shot.
You can only cross the no-volley line if you’re letting the ball bounce. If you’re going for a volley shot, you must not cross the line. When hitting a volley, it’s a fault even if your foot doesn’t cross the line but another part of you does, like your arm.
If you’re playing particularly seriously, then it’ll be a fault even if your clothes cross the line while you’re hitting a volley, because that is indeed in the rulebook.
Also, even if you’re not hitting a volley (because the ball has bounced on your side), it’s a fault if you return a volley while you’re positioned in the kitchen zone.
Tips For Avoiding Faults
While the best way to get used to avoiding faults is by simply playing more pickleball, there are a number of things you can do to minimize your chances of committing faults.
Before you play your first game of pickleball, try to read up on all of the basic rules and terms. You’re a lot less likely to make numerous mistakes if you’ve read up on the game beforehand.
If you’re playing with an experienced teammate, then they might be expecting you to come prepared.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid faults is by practicing. Not every fault is avoidable, but once you’ve spent enough time on the pickleball court, your mistakes will be at a minimum.
Conclusion: What Is A Fault In Pickleball?
When you’re playing a game of pickleball, a fault is when a player makes an error that means the game has to be paused.
There are a number of different faults that can be committed, and the most common fault for beginners is returning a serve before they’ve let the ball bounce.
Try to read up on the basic rules before your first game of pickleball. With practice, you’ll be minimizing the number of mistakes you’re making.