CJ Johnson Headshot
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

Pickleball Line Calls-Out or In?

When you play pickleball, you are actually a player-ref. The rules require that you call out balls when you see them and that any doubt MUST benefit the opponents.

How do you make the best line calls; Out or In? Here’s what you need to do:

1.  Call balls you clearly see out on your side of the court. Make calls quickly and decisively.

2.  If you are unsure and another player was in a better position to make the call, ask that player. If you ask, you MUST accept his/her answer.

3.  If no one clearly saw the ball, it is considered good. If it was too close to call, it is considered good.

A few bonus tidbits on Out or In;

Just because you hit a ball does not mean it was good. You can hit, then make the call. In fact, you should not stop playing because you think a ball is going to be out. Play it through, then make the call. But make the call before the opponents send it back again.

If someone stopped playing because they thought it was going out, but it did not get called out, too bad, it was good.

If a player calls out before the ball hits the ground, it is not out. That is considered cross-talk between players. A ball cannot be out until it hits the ground outside of the lines.

If there is a disagreement between two players on the same team about whether a ball was out or not, it is considered good.

The rules say there are no replays if there was doubt about whether a ball was good. Either it is clearly called out, or it is considered good.

This really happened: one player on the serving side called the ball out; his partner said it was good; the opponent stopped play by catching the ball because he heard the out call. The serving team claimed the point. Right or wrong? That was the correct resolution. Because two players disagreed, there was doubt, so the ball was considered good, which favored the opponent.

Bev writes a weekly email blast for our pickleball club. She delivers the rules with clarity and a sense of humor. If you have a rules question post it in the comments below.





  1. Avatar photo Paulette Wright on December 15, 2021 at 1:00 am

    What happens when the ball goes over the net but ends up hitting the middle support bar on its way down?

  2. Avatar photo Brian Phelan on December 28, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    You conclusion is confusing . Right or wrong was not responded to.

    One hand “that was the correct resolution” Serving team claimed the point.

    Opposite conclusion “favored the opponent”

    Which is it?

    • Avatar photo Tony Roig on January 2, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      Hell Brian. Any time there is doubt about the call, the ball is in. Out call must be definitive. The benefit of the doubt always favors an “in” call. Thanks for the comment.

    • Avatar photo rocco spaccio on December 19, 2022 at 5:51 pm

      I hit a half volley on the run but saw it “out” and called it out before a continuation return. I stopped playing immediately after making the call. Opponents claim since they did not hear the call they continued to play it and won the point What is the rule??

      • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on December 22, 2022 at 4:27 am

        The ball was considered dead when you called it out.

  3. Avatar photo Frank Bell on February 25, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    Can an “out” ball be played? If neither you or your partner calls an “out” ball, even if it is obviously out (say 6″), and you return it, is the ball still in play? If your opponent calls that ball out, does that make a difference?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on February 26, 2022 at 4:05 am

      Hi Frank, yes an out ball can be played as long as it is bounced. If it doesn’t touch outside the court it’s not out. If neither you or your partner call the ball out it is not out. You are responsible for calling the lines on your side of the court. What your opponent says is irrelevant. Here’s a video that might help https://betterpickleball.com/pickleball-rules-and-scoring-2021/

      • Avatar photo Karen on December 10, 2022 at 9:05 am

        What if your partner calls the ball out after you’ve played on it?

        • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on December 10, 2022 at 8:39 pm

          Perfectly acceptable. If you disagree and you call it in then the ball is considered out.

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