CJ Johnson Headshot
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

Rule Review: That’s Handy

picture of a pickleball hand

Perhaps unique to pickleball, a ball can be hit twice, bounced on your paddle, or “carried,” as long as this occurs during a continuous motion in a single direction.


The ball can also hit your paddle hand and still be returned legally. In fact, the ball doesn’t need to hit the paddle at all as long as it hits only your paddle hand below the wrist. If you are executing a two-handed return shot, the ball may hit either of your hands below the wrist.

These are very permissive rules, but I wouldn’t count on practicing those shots. They are usually clumsy flukes, nothing to be proud of.

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 Margaret Dunbar on September 6, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I was always under the impression that your foot can’t cross the baseline in a serve. I have been told that is. It true. Can you clarify this for me?

    • Avatar photo Cathy Jo Johnson on September 9, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Hi Margaret, here’s the rule from page 17, 4.A.3. At the beginning of the serve, both feet must be behind the baseline. At the time the ball is
      struck, at least one foot must be on the playing surface or ground behind the baseline, and the server’s feet may not touch the playing surface
      in an area outside the confines of the serving area.

      There are a lot of people who cross the baseline into the court while serving. As long as it is after the ball is struck it’s perfectly legal. Alex Hamner is a great example of this. https://youtu.be/S-q7DthY-A4?t=10m1s

  2. Avatar photo Robert (Bob) McIntyre, Jr. on September 8, 2018 at 7:41 am

    Two questions about serving . . .
    (1) My reflection on all the many PB matches I watch on YouTube . . . the pros do not seem to do much with their serves except to always get it in and deep. I don’t think I have every seen an ace or a hard serve that puts an opponent at a disadvantage. Us recreational players maybe try too hard to make tough-to-return serves. This results in too many serves going out. We too should just always get the serve in and deep . . . ideally to the weak hand of the receiver. Thoughts?
    (2) I know the three major rules about the serve. Please confirm a “spin” serve is legal if all rules are followed even if there is just a SLIGHT upward/vertical/low-to-high motion along with a hard horizontal motion. As a right-handed player, I can get a serve that kicks to the right which is usually going to an opponents backhand. But trying to hard to do this puts the ball out about 5-10% of the time. TOO MUCH. See #1 above.

    • Avatar photo Cathy Jo Johnson on September 28, 2018 at 6:21 am

      Hi Bob
      Good observations. Ace’s are very rare and you rarely see a pro hit a serve out. That doesn’t mean they are just trying to get it in. The goal is to try to cause a weak return which makes the serving team third shot easier to execute. As you point out, deep and to the weak shot of the receiver or trying to make them move can create weak returns.
      As for point 2, yes it is possible to follow all the rules and put a spin on the serve. If you are only missing it 1 in 9 serves but you are getting your opponents to make a lot of errors or return a lot of short shots than it may be worth it. I would be interested to know why you are missing it so often. Is it going into the net, long or sidelines. It may be that you could hit the same serve and either make the target bigger, i.e the center of the box or you could take some speed off the serve to make sure it goes in and still get the same results. Experiment with it.

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