USA Pickleball Sportsmanship Guide

USA Pickleball Sportsmanship Guide-01

When USA Pickleball Director of Officiating and Chairman of the Rules Committee Mark Peifer recognized the need for a USA Pickleball Sportsmanship Guide, he decided to draw from the ranks of USA Pickleball Ambassadors to form a team to develop such a document, saying, “our Ambassadors are involved in all areas of the sport, including both tournament and recreational play, and are uniquely able to represent the pickleball community at-large.”

The Committee was charged with defining specific behaviors that are not already covered by the Official Rulebook to promote mutual respect, courtesy, consideration, and fair play (i.e., sportsmanship) among pickleball players. A highly social game, pickleball is valued by many as much for the relationships they develop through the game as for the fun, exercise and competition. Good sportsmanship is essential to developing and maintaining those relationships and avoiding conflicts that can undermine them.

Ambassadors Robert David, Jean Dicesare, Linda Koetting, Cindy Lawton, Steve Loranger, and Scott Nicastro, along with District Ambassadors Jeff Conradi, Brent Hall, Nancy Sutton, and Christine Wantuck, plus Pickleball Magazine contributor Craig Laughlin, formed the Committee, chaired by Dick Osman, a District Ambassador and Certified Referee.

The committee began by collecting ideas from every source they could find, and soliciting input  from players and other Ambassadors, adding their individual opinions and pet peeves. Then began the most difficult phase of their work, resolving differences and boiling it all down into a size and format that people might actually read, understand, and apply.

While it is impossible to address every nuance of every situation which can arise, the committee worked to develop guidelines that are both broad enough and specific enough to provide guidance in the most common situations and can be extrapolated using common sense to situations that are not directly addressed.

Download the USA Pickleball Sportsmanship Guide HERE or read below.


Pickleball was created to be a fun, competitive, and highly social sport. Since its inception, it has embodied an ethic of good sportsmanship that includes respect, fair play, and graciousness in winning and losing.  The purpose of this guide is to encourage behaviors that reflect these foundational values. The Official Rules of Pickleball take precedence over this guide in any and all situations.

  1. Treat all players, officials, volunteers, staff, and spectators with courtesy and respect.
    • Introduce yourself to any players you do not know.
    • Never use foul language or obscene gestures. Never denigrate another person.
    • At the end of each game, meet the other players at the net to acknowledge them in a positive manner. In officiated matches, thank the referee.
    • Accommodate players with adaptive needs when possible.
  2. Know the Official Rules of Pickleball, apply them fairly and cooperate in any situation that is not expressly covered by the rules.
  3. Practice good sportsmanship when making line calls.
    • Respect your opponents’ right to make all calls on their end of the court.
    • Call your own shot “out” if you see that it is out.
    • If you question an opponent’s call, do so respectfully and do not argue.
    • If you defer a line call to your opponents, accept their call graciously.
    • Do not call a ball “out” unless you see it clearly and are certain it is out.
    • Promptly correct any wrong call your partner may make.
    • Resolve any uncertainty in favor of your opponents.
  4. Call a fault on yourself or your partner as soon as the fault occurs, regardless of whether your opponents are aware of the fault.
    • Watch your own and your partner’s feet for service or NVZ foot faults
    • Accept your opponent’s and partner’s fault calls graciously.
    • Admit if the ball hits you or your paddle on the way out of bounds.
  5. Claim a replay only if a hinder affects your team’s ability to play the ball.
  6. In social play, rotate on and off courts fairly, courteously, and in accordance with local practice.
    • Don’t jump ahead of others who are waiting to play.
    • Don’t invite someone else forward in line or rearrange paddles so they can move up to play with you; move yourself back instead.
    • Don’t call a lower score or start a second game to avoid leaving the court.
    • Be prepared to play when it is your turn.
    • If you must cross over or behind an active court, wait until play is stopped and cross quickly in a single group to minimize disruption of that game.
  7. Make safety a priority, while using common sense.
    1. If a ball strays onto your court, make eye contact with the correct person and roll or toss it back to them without disrupting play on other courts.
    2. If your ball enters another court, immediately warn any players whose safety may be in jeopardy by loudly calling “ball” or some other warning. If the ball is rolling behind their court and does not present a danger to players, do not interrupt play but wait until play stops to retrieve it or ask for its return.
    3. Never throw your paddle or strike the ball in anger or frustration.
  8. As a stronger player in social play, be kind to other players.
    • Avoid hitting excessively to a weaker player.
    • Do not slam the ball directly at other players.
  9. Be considerate about playing up and playing down.
    • Be willing to play sometimes with less-skilled players.
    • Do not demand to play with more skilled players; ask them nicely if you wish to play with them.
  10. Be a respectful and supportive partner.
    • Avoid criticism and negative non-verbal communications.
    • Provide coaching and advice only when requested.


Jeff Conradi – District Ambassador
Robert David – Ambassador
Jean Dicesare – Ambassador
Brent Hall – District Ambassador
Linda Koetting – Ambassador
Craig Laughlin – Pickleball Magazine Columnist
Cindy Lawton – Ambassador
Steve Loranger – Ambassador
Scott Nicastro – Ambassador
Dick Osman – District Ambassador, Certified Referee, Chairman
Nancy Sutton – District Ambassador
Christine Wantuck – District Ambassador, Level 2 Referee

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