Official 2021 Pickleball Rulebook Released

Effective date will be 25 January

USA Pickleball and IFP have released 3 items including: the Official 2021 Rulebook, the “2021 Rules Change Document”, which lists each rule that was added or changed with explanations provided, and an Alternate Rulebook for public comment.   The Official 2021 Rulebook will become effective on January 25, 2021.

“The 2021 changes cover the gamut for why rules are changed; to maintain the integrity of the game, improve the player experience, and minimize player to player and player to referee conflict,” said Mark Peifer, USA Pickleball Rules Committee chairman.

“In addition to emails sent to us on rule change ideas, we spent a lot of time listening to what players were saying on digital channels about rules; which ones caused player disagreements or just weren’t easy to understand.  So, we think we have a very good sense of which rules were causing players issues on the court, in tournaments and in rec play.  We’ve found that players aren’t reluctant to share their thoughts on rules in a number of different ways.”, added Mark.

Well over 100 rule change ideas were collected from individuals who sent in an idea via email, or from social media.  Those ideas were put through a lengthy vetting, review and approval process, involving close to 70 individuals.

In addition, for the first time, a pro player advisory committee conducted what can easily be called the most comprehensive review of the penalty system (technical warnings, technical fouls, forfeits, etc.) in the history of the game.

Every rule that is new or was changed is explained in the accompanying “2021 Rules Change Document”.  For the player that just wants to know the answer to the question, ‘Why did that rule change?’, the “2021 Rules Change Document” is a good place to start.  It shows the 2020 rule, what is changing in 2021 and the reason why.  In many cases, scenarios have been added to help highlight the change and how the revised or new rule will be applied on the court.

Also new in 2021 is an Alternate Rulebook.  The Official 2021 Rulebook is the one that will be used as a reference during tournaments.  The Alternate Rulebook, however, is an attempt to simplify how the rules are presented.  The Alternate Rulebook can be used in any venue other than tournaments, without restriction.    The Alternate Rulebook will enjoy the benefit of a one-year public comment period.   User comments should be directed to  Here are some of the key features:

  • Similar/related rules grouped together in three major parts
    • Part I – Basic information and rules not applying to play
    • Part II – General rules applying to all play
    • Part III – Additional rules relating to tournament play
  • Faults listed with their related rules
  • Redundancies and duplication eliminated
  • Headings for every rule to aid navigation
  • Simpler, clearer language and consistent terminology
  • Non-volley zone rebranded as no-volley zone
  • Wheelchair rules integrated into general rules
  • Expanded index
  • Internal links for easy navigation online

We look forward to your comments on the Alternate Rulebook.

The Referee Handbook is expected to be available online Friday, December 18.

Go to the Official Rules and USA Pickleball Officiating pages to Learn More

The Official 2021 Rulebook is estimated to be available in the USAPA Store by mid-January.

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