Understanding What Is A Let In Pickleball? – Why Rule banned in 2021

Have you ever wondered is there a let serve in pickleball? And what are recent changes to the let?

Pickleball has quickly become one of the fastest-paced and most competitive sports in the United States. While the game is relatively straightforward, you will wonder if these rules can be complex.

In particular, the “let” rule has been a source of confusion for many players. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the let rule, explain what it is, and why it was recently changed.

We will also discuss the impact of this rule change and how it affects the game. So, let’s dive right in and learn more about the let rule in pickleball court.

what is a let in pickleball

What is a let in pickleball

Previously, a ‘let’ in pickleball referred to a bounce serve that would hitting an out ball in pickleball.

Nevertheless, in 2021 the entire ‘let rule’ was abolished to uphold the game’s credibility. Consequently, there is no allowance for new players to let in pickleball.

When a server hit the ball and it lands beyond the no-volley zone line on the opponent’s side of the court, it is a live ball and can be played off the net without stopping. If the serve hits the net and doesn’t reach the kitchen line, it is a loss of serve for the serving team.


Let us look at pickleball let service history and its name origin.

History of Let in Pickleball

The origins of the “let” rule in pickleball can be traced back to the sport’s early days in the 1960s.

The rule was created to ensure fair play and to prevent players from exploiting technicalities. Over the years, the rule has been refined and clarified to better serve players’ and officials’ needs.

Where Did The Term Come From?

The origin of the word “let” is uncertain, but several theories exist. However, these theories have more supporting evidence.

  • One of the more popular but another theory is that it is derived from “let’s try that again” or “letting” your opponent attempt the legal service again. 
  • Another viewpoint is that “let” comes from the French word “filet meaning “net.” Undoubtedly, this concept is believed to have been adopted by tennis players in the United Kingdom and subsequently shortened to “let.”
  • There is also a hypothesis that the term originates in Old Saxon, particularly the word “Lettian” which translates to “to hinder” in English.

No matter the etymology, what is certain is that the “let serve” regulation in pickleball is now distinct from that of table tennis.

What is a Let in Other Sports?

The concept of a “let” is not unique to pickleball and can be found in other sports, such as tennis and badminton. In these sports, a let is typically called when the player hit the ball to the net on the serve, or when an object or person hinders a serve in a pickleball court.

The rules and circumstances surrounding a let may vary depending on the sport, but ensuring fair play and preventing players from exploiting technicalities remains the same.

Let Pickleball Rule Overview

Well, as you know, the service Let rule has been removed after January 2021. Still, if you can understand how this rule impacts the game and its significance, it’ll be beneficial to understand the game and why it has been removed from pickleball.

Overview of Let Rule

In pickleball, a “let” is a replay of a point that an official or a player calls if certain conditions are met. These conditions include the ball hitting the net on the serve, a player being hindered by a ball, player, or other objects on the court, a player not being ready when the ball is served, a player not being able to make a good return due to noise or disturbance from spectators, or the ball not being visible to the players due to sun or other lighting issues.

Scenarios Where Let Rule Applies

The let rule applies in many scenarios during a pickleball tournament. Some examples include the ball hitting the net on the serve and going over, a player being hindered by a ball, player, or other objects on the court, a player not being ready when the ball is served, a player not being able to make a good return due to noise or disturbance from spectators, or the ball not being visible to the players due to sun or other lighting issues.

How Umpires Make a Call on the Let Rule

Umpires are responsible for making calls on the let rule in playing pickleball. They use their judgment and experience to determine if a let is necessary and to decide when play should be stopped. Umpires may consult with other officials or players if unsure how to proceed.

Strategies for Playing With the Let Rule

Players can use the let rule to their advantage by being aware of when it applies and ensuring they are ready and positioned when the ball is served. They can also use the let rule to disrupt their opponent’s rhythm by calling a let when they believe a situation warrants it.

Pickleball Let serve Rule Change

The official organization regulating pickleball in America, USA Pickleball, has changed the “let” rule. This means that if a player or team stops playing due to a let call, whether it’s accidental or not, they will automatically receive a fault.

The Director of Officiating explains that while some players may call a let innocently or out of habit, there is no exception to this rule. This change has been made by the governing body of the sport to clarify and draw the line.

Regarding the recent rule change ‘lets’ in pickleball, USA Pickleball has revealed the three primary considerations for rule changes in the sport:

preserving the integrity of pickleball,

what is best for players,

what is best for officials.

The Rules Committee considers eliminating lets from the rulebook necessary to meet these criteria. Specifically, the ambiguity of the call for both players and officials was cited as a primary factor in the decision.

Ultimately, the Rules Committee sought to ensure the overall improvement of the game, as well as the players’ experience of it, while at the same time minimizing conflict between players and referees.

pickleball let serve rule change

What’s best for players

Considering players’ experiences, the Rules Committee concluded that this rule had too much potential to create conflict between them.

Arguing about where the ball landed or if it hit the net can be detrimental to a player’s enjoyment.

The example situation presents a potential for conflict amongst players, which could spoil the game for everyone.

The Rules Committee’s paramount concern is ensuring players’ well-being, and allowing conflict in this area is not beneficial for them.

What’s best for officials

The Rules Committee discussed the experience of the officials to the let serve and determined that potential arguments between officials and players should be minimized to protect the game’s integrity.

The Committee concluded that due to the high risk of a referee not correctly calling a let serve, it is essential to ensure this does not occur.

Frequently Asked Questions

A hinder in pickleball is when a player makes a shot that interferes with their opponent’s shot, making it unable to be returned. A hinder can be either accidental or intentional. An intentional hinder is an illegal move and can result in a point for the opposing team.

The proposed 2023 pickleball rule change will prohibit the pre-spinning of the ball before striking. This implies that players will not be able to generate a spin to the ball with their hand before the serve.

It’s important to know only one serve attempt is allowed in pickleball but its banned after 2021.

To maintain the integrity of pickleball, it is important to abide by the official rules and regulations set forth by the game. All players should also respect one another and adhere to a strict code of sportsmanship.

Additionally, proper attire should be worn at all times, and any disputes should be handled fairly and impartially. Finally, it is important to keep score accurate and report any discrepancies to the referee or tournament director.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, a let in pickleball is a serve that does not count as an official point. It is usually called when the ball touches the net on a serve, or if the server performs an illegal serve. A let can also be called if the ball bounces twice on one side of the court. Let serves are an important part of the game and provide an opportunity for players to restart the rally.

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