Welcome to another episode of kitchen conversations where today we are talking to Mark Pfeiffer the head of the USA pickleball rules committee he is the head official and knows everything about the rules that are gonna be changed for 2023 and we get to talk to the man about those changes but before we do that I want to thank our sponsors fitbine wines.

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How are you very good Jason glad to be with you but I gotta tell you I got to find that wine you got to tell me where I can buy that stuff I can I will point you in the right direction all right that looks pretty good looks inviting um so Mark we have a less significant amount of rule changes we did last year last year obviously there was uh a lot.

Of tension on the spin serve this year we also have a conversation about the spin serve uh it is completely going away is it not it is uh we've you know we've looked at this now for two years and different formats you know the the spin off the paddle then the spin out of the fingers and now it's.

Basically going back to no spin imparted spin uh with the offhand or antibody part so that's the that's the big change for this year that big change for some uh not so much of a change for most of the players that play Pickleball and I think that was part of your reasoning for this change right uh and just to be clear about what this change.

Is uh two years ago we had the chainsaw where you could spin it off your paddle last year you changed it to where one hand your offhand could spin the ball and then you could hit it this year we're saying no more spin at all both on a regular volley serve and on a drop serve so there's no spin anymore and obviously.

When you drop a ball there's some spin that takes place but yeah I think the players will see that language in the rule book when it gets released we're gonna we plan on having it posted on the USA pickleball website as planned on or before the first of December but the language that people are going to see is that we recognize that there is going to.

Be some natural rotation on the ball that occurs through a normal free release of the ball whether it's a drop serve or you're doing the volley serve there has to be some rotation that happens to the ball as you're transferring it from your non-paddle hand to be able to hit it with a paddle that's not what we're talking about.

We're talking about the obvious manipulation of the ball where you're flicking it either up or this way or this way or that way and I think most people that have ever seen the impact of that kind of a serve know what we're trying to prevent here it doesn't mean there's a certain population that says well no spin well.

Wait a minute I can spin the ball with my paddle can I yeah so that has been preserved that's always been there the paddle can impart spin through you know kind of a side almost a kind of a side underhand motion you see it a lot with those backhand servers there's always some spin that occurs on the ball but this is this rule eliminates any.

Pre-served spin with any body part most notably the hand got it and so so you're saying we can still do a slice serve using the open paddle face or closed paddle face especially on the drop serve you can still do that on the drop server it's a little more problematic obviously with a volley serve because you got to still.

Comply with those three rules the upward Arc you know the paddle below the wrist and and uh below the waist so or not above the waist really so those those things are preserved in a volley syrup but you know you're welcome to try anything you want to with the drop serve I got a question for you and I probably should.

Know this but it comes to mind when I think about the volley serve and or sorry when the drops are I know that we say that all the rules of serving kind of go out the window and and you can then hit the ball from any angle upward downward motion all those things kind of go out the window so a drop serve you can hit you know if you.

Could you don't need to be going upward motion you don't need to be below the navel even though physics will tell you you kind of have to do it that way right what about having your foot on the ground is that something that all the feet rules still apply for both the volley and the drop serve so you have to have one foot in contact with the ground.

At the point of contact with the ball and that foot has to be within the confines of that box if you will okay that you're serving from so yeah so all the feet rules still apply okay and the rationale behind this rule change was that some of the Court space uh is limited in in some environments that people are getting run into walls or.

Fences is that accurate that was one of the the yeah I mean exactly uh there's you know we took a look at this and we wanted to see we actually said last year that we were going to look at how deep and wide this this Spencer penetrates the sport um is do we see pockets of it with some age group of individuals and certain.

Athletes yeah certainly we do we see it especially with males young younger males that are able to practice things this and get get good at it get really good at it but we didn't see it so much with the female players and so that was important to us that it did not penetrate the the women population of players because one of the things that.

Uh even the proponents of the spin surf set is like hey once you see it enough then you'll get used to it you can play against it and you can read it and all those kinds of things well heck if nobody's really using it in Great numbers it's difficult to get to that point so that was important the second thing is obviously as you.

Pointed out there are some if you do this right and there are some folks as you well know in fact you're one of them who does this very very well has been able to perfect this uh when you're taking you know a normal sized tennis court and you're dividing it into four uh pickleball courts whether you have barriers or not the better players can.

Take somebody and really run them two to three feet into the next court and if you're playing indoors in that that barrier to your right or to your left is a wall then we have safety issues that we have to deal with so that was that was also a big consideration the spin that you see off the paddle is not necessarily and normally as dramatic as.

You can get at the higher levels of spinning it with your hand yeah and did you did the rules committee ever consider uh applying the the rules to boundaries in terms of size of a court because I and you're right because I know I played in a lot of tournaments where they pack them on to a tennis court and I understand the reason why.

They do this but at some point it feels like maybe there should be a rule that says there needs to be x amount of space between courts was that ever any consideration uh that's not something that has come to the rules committee but I can see very easily where it's going to come to that point we get asked this question quite a.

Bit for new court construction uh new court and kind of some Court conversions where they're going to take you know a certain number of tennis courts what's the optimal size the rule book describes the different kinds of sizes of Courts all the way from a stadium Court which you see at Nationals which is huge it's the biggest Court in.

The in the game obviously um and then you have the recommended minimum size for recreational play so those court dimensions are there for court conversion companies to use and for new construction so the new construction obviously it's a cost issue for many facilities how big do I want to.

Make this court with the footprint that I have to work with but I think you ask a very good question and it wouldn't surprise me over the next few years that we have a minimum size court for sanctioned play but we don't have it right now um yeah I think that I think that would be great um I wish you could do.

Something about unsanctioned play as well quite honestly I did too but I I have little authority there I know I know um so another rule that came into play was the replay or fault on the serve and we saw we saw this happen the other day at a PPA event I'm not sure if you saw it.

Um but it was uh Jay devilier was playing against Tyson McGuffin and Tyson was serving what Jay I think thought was illegally then Jay started serving a little bit High and the ref actually called him on it gave him a warning said replay the the serve and he did it again and they replayed it again and and this had no significant consequence other.

Than replay it again which felt like there was a kind of a loophole here and now if I read this new rule correctly an official can call a fault when it is served incorrectly is that right well first of all I'm not familiar with what the PPA rule actually says I.

Haven't seen anything in writing but I'll tell you we wrote the rule to regard against exactly what you saw at in that particular match if the serve is clearly illegal the official if there's a referee must and shall call the fault so if I'm qualified on an obviously illegal serve just like you do today and you know this new rule doesn't affect.

That if it's clearly illegal we expect the referees to call the fault on the serve so what does it so a replay is is when they can't definitively if it's questionable that's the word we're trying to use and to describe how you differentiate between a you know Reserve improper server reserve and a funk fault is very clearly uh out of bounds of.

Those three elements of the valley serve if it's a volley serve and it's questionable then the referee has a tool in their toolbox to call the reserve and that is your warning and as you're going to get on whether or not that's acceptable to continue to serve that way so does it work as a warning in fact yeah it's it's a so you get to reserve.

It now the question is what if and this is an obvious question and it's something we're going to have to deal with in the officiating handbook I can tell you what I would do today as a referee but I'm not ready to make this you know the the rule for all referees but if I if I call let's say you're serving and I think you're serving above.

The waste but I'm not certain of it but it's questionable I'll call it Reserve we'll replay it you get to do that twice and after the second time if you haven't learned to change your behavior to get it where it's obviously not questionable then I've got another tool in my toolbox and it's called a technical warning I'll just give you a technical warning for.

Delay a game I've told you about this twice you're not learning it's time to make a dramatic change and how you're delivering the serve and the technical warning should get your attention Okay it's a little it's a little blurry to me quite honestly because oh yeah because a legal serve is a questionable serve right it could be one degree below nine.

You know 90 degrees so that you can push the boundaries of the rule to be questionable every time and still be within the rules but now you're saying if you can't tell clearly and it is questionable it could become a fault which well if it's if if it's questionable it shouldn't be a fault it should be a replay if however you don't.

Change this enough so that it's no longer questionable then you you're playing that's that's what I mean that's what I mean so now you need to be clear it's no longer exactly you have to make enough of a change to your service routine and motion to make sure I don't have any chance to call it questionable and let's face it you and I both know.

That most players that do this know their bordering on the line it's normal I do that you do it we're all we're always we're losing an advantage if we don't come right up to the limit of the rule right especially in this case and so so everybody's willing to uh is willing to do that and we accept that as.

As officials that people are going to test the boundaries well what's nice about this is that you can test the boundaries and if we think it's questionable we'll give you a chance to fix it so it doesn't work done so it doesn't become a fault got it okay that makes sense what about.

In you know and I think I think this is I'm sorry to interrupt you but I think this is very similar to what we did with a profanity rule you know referees all had a different you know threshold on what constituted a profanity uh and it was very normal for players to get upset and say well wait a minute I just used the same word and a.

In my last match and the referee didn't say anything and now you're giving me a technical warning for profanity so that led to the verbal warning so that now the players could say okay well this referee's got a different threshold for this I better back off so this is very similar in in vain here okay look you're getting very close to.

My threshold as a referee for a fault don't make me call a fault on you for this I'm going to give you a chance to fix this here's your warning replay got it okay so that brings me to my next question of what about matches that don't have a referee yeah so um so the the the opponents the.

Receivers can call for a replay just like they can today if they can't see the release of the ball and if they think there's a spin on the ball they can call for replay there is no provision in fact there are no Faults that you as an opponent can call on the person or team across the other side of the next.

Uh the closest you can come to is on a as you know is on a footfall you can call the football but if they don't agree it's a replay That's The Only Fault in all of the rule book that you can call on your opponent but uh so yeah so what so what if what if the player doesn't change their behavior and you think it's a an illegal.

Serve or even a quick a questionable serve well it's just like anything else you have to call the referee the tournament director over okay all right fair enough I think that makes sense you can certainly mention it to your opponents and say hey it looks like to me you're above the waist or you can.

Do that today as well right okay it makes sense I just wanted to clarify that you cannot be opponent cannot call a fault that would be left to officiated matches and a referee has the power to do that now right got it that makes sense um then a couple other rules um that changed the the player questions.

About correct serve and player position um up till now officials were not allowed to to to I guess you could ask but they couldn't tell you preemptively um what has changed in this now players can ask kind of well specifically am I good yeah that's so that is that's part of the Lexicon now of pickleball.

Um and some Pro players started doing that and then you know players saw it being asked on live stream so they started asking it but we didn't have any real treatment of it in the rule book because the rule book required you to answer you know am I in the right position am I the Right server and what's the score I mean those are the.

Three questions you could basically ask we didn't have anything again it says you could ask am I good right so it created some conflicts with the wrestle what the heck does this mean so so we had to work through that over the last year and so what you see now going in 2023 this perfectly acceptable for a player to ask the referee rather than.

Ask all three of those questions in some kind of order just say ask hey am I good here and then as a referee we will say either you're good or you're not and if you're not good you know no you're not good because your partner is a server Correct server so you gotta we get away from these two or three additional questions to finally get to where we're.

Going to get to anyway so just ask am I good and that we we all all referees will recognize that that is the same thing as asking any of those or all three of those questions at the same time okay good that makes sense um I like that rule um and then another another kind of big.

One here is if a wrong score is called and this came up this year in Atlanta uh the Catherine parento LED Jansen match against Lucy and Cali uh a wrong call with school was a wrong score was called by an official and as the play went on Catherine recognized that it was the wrong score and she she said something and the point was deducted they lost the.

Point it was on game point yeah and that was a pretty hard hard way to lose a game uh particularly of that significance I I remember writing about it and saying this is this seems like a a loophole in the rules here that shouldn't be punishable to the receiving team when the official made the wrong call and to.

Have to live with that for the entire Point knowing in the back your mind that that was not the right call seemed unfair so now we have corrected that and you can stop the play before the return of serp is that right that's correct okay yeah and this was a Groundswell uh of opinion back after this rule was changed we said yeah you can you can.

Question the score of this call but you got to get it in before the serve was made but it's there's a but the ball becomes live as soon as the referee starts to call the score and as soon as they're done calling a score you are free to serve the ball so in many cases often very short window of opportunity for the receiver to say oh.

Wait a minute that's a wrong score um so we had to we had to address that and so what we did is we went actually back to the 2021 rule where you can question the cost of the wrong score called up until the return of serve and it makes perfect sense yeah I think so and then so now you can do that if you don't.

Question it before the return is served and it was a wrong score it will be amended after the point is that correct right and that's right that was um that was our thinking with the 2022 rule change is that hey just fix it at the end of the rally but there's a certain population of people who for whom.

Um you know if they hear the wrong score they're going to be wondering is the referee going to recognize that they called the wrong score at the end of the rally so it bothers the heck out of them their mind is not on the rally it's on the wrong score and I think we completely underestimated the impact that that had on certain players yeah.

But wait until the end of the ride so yeah I think that would be sitting on my mind I'm looking for any excuse to to blame my hitting the ball into the net for and that would absolutely be at the top uh one other thing if you stop the point and the score was called correctly then is it a do-over or is it.

You lose that point so you better be right if you hear it that'll be right what happens if I hear it particularly in a non-refereed match I hear them say something I stop it say no it's it's four to one and you said four two and they say no no I said four two well if it's a non-refereed match you can't call a fault on the person for.

Calling the wrong score and they can't call a fault on you for catching the ball so you're at a stalemate so you just replay the point okay so then a non-official which I'm sorry or you call a referee over to to try and adjudicate that but that'd be it's much easier in this case you can correct play in a non-officiating matches like I say.

You can't call a fault on your opponent so you might as well just agree to replay the thing so when it comes to rules about hearing properly because I think that particularly with a older demographic uh and we're seeing more and more indoor incredibly noisy.

I sometimes have a hard time hearing and I'm not I'm not as old as some people that I play with uh and and I I do wonder if there's anything that's being thought of in the rules that would alleviate having to hear I mean is there any kind of thought to hand signals or some visual well here's what I I tell you what I do.

In that situation because I found myself in the same thing so if um if I'm serving or I'm receiving it doesn't matter if I'm going to pick up the ball I just say hey it's 542 right to the to the server so I I'm providing what I think the score is when I'm not serving I all when I when I get uh the ball the first thing I do is I say five.

Four two and then I get into position and call it again so that's an opportunity I think that players can work uh with them with their opponents to kind of figure out how they want to address that in a noisy environment that just makes a perfectly good sense rather than write a rule that might work indoors and not Outdoors or um.

Hearing impaired or not hearing impaired it's always better in those circumstances the players just get together before the match starts and say hey how you want to handle this noise business how about if I call the score twice yeah yeah that's that's not a bad idea just in general when I say I can't remember a score for the life of me.

Let's just say it every time we have a chance right all right and by the way we did talk about that as a potential rule change but the outcry was deafening against calling the score twice okay so there's a new rule um a new rule about apparel and what colors you can wear and that there's a.

Rule about not wearing a color the same color as the ball is that for are there any limitations on that is that your shirt cannot be yellow or your shorts can't be yellow a skirt socks shoes yeah you're asking the right questions here Jason the rule has always been in existence that the tournament director had the.

Ability to enforce apparel changes for quote inappropriate apparel but we never really defined that that word inappropriate and I think in most cases it people decided that that was you know profane topics or words or political statements and those that have no business you know in a pickleball court in a tournament at least.

But there was a there's an awful lot of attention now given to the fact that you know we're playing with these neon green or yellow balls and seemed to be a popular color uh to wear on the courts and that in some circumstances the ball could actually look like it's it has disappeared in the background of a similar colored shirt the only thing we.

Did in the rules this year was to add a specific color suggestion that it might be inappropriate it might be inappropriate again the tournament director owns the decision on this but we added the color issue as an example of what might be inappropriate or might cause a tournament director to ask the.

Player for an apparel change now consistent with that we also are requiring tournament directors that are asking to be a sanctioned event to give us the color of the ball so we it's not only x40 or Dura 40 but also what color ball is going to be used in that tournament so when they apply for sanctioning that information.

Is known and required again as a forewarning to the players who now know I better not add on my shirt I better not wear a shirt or any appear for that matter with a closely approximates the color of the ball because I could get asked to change my shirt or whatever yeah and what about are there any rules.

About the color of the paddle being the same color as the ball there are not that was also one that was uh proposed but we're we're not ready yet to tell the manufacturers that uh you can't have certain colors what would we tell them I mean we'd have to we'd have to also restrict the the color of balls right now we've got blue balls and.

We've got red we've got pink we've got you know different color shades of the the neon yellow and neon green What colors would we ban so we have to be very careful unless we want to go the route of tennis or ping pong and say it's either this color ball or this color ball yeah but we're not there yet.

Why not well I think um that's a really good question I mean the easy answer is because nobody's proposed something along those lines that's uh that's an easy answer are you are you asking me to propose this Mark no uh but it makes it a lot easier if someone else does it otherwise we get to.

Oh we get this you know there's a bunch of girl you know good old boys in the back room and making up these rules I would much rather this be an open process where people participate in it um I can tell you who's going to probably be against it is going to be some of the manufacturers of balls they enjoy having being able to innovate and.

Put out new colors because it's um I mean I've seen what we're talking about we're talking about sanctioned tournament play essentially right so I've never been determined that you used anything other than a yellow ball uh I have to think about that I haven't either and that's because that's the ball that the manufacturers.

Provide usually to the tournament director to get their ball in front of the public so that'll just make it easier to tell people to stop wearing yellow clothing in apparel and we could all know exactly what we're getting into and paddle manufacturers wouldn't make yellow paddles and it would all be very easy.

Yeah but we don't want to tell Selkirk no more red paddles don't as long as there's no yellow you know as long as we're not using red balls then we don't have to worry about that problem I I agree I agree I'm looking forward to how you would propose the world would be written well speaking of which I I would like to talk about.

Why the Whitwell walkway did not pass it's because it's already banned by the rules well but we this was for an exception for seniors and and Lee Whitwell uh that that was probably that's one of the funniest things that uh I've had to come across my desk and it was very.

Clever very clever glad we could glad we could help with that um hey one last uh you know rule change for this year was the equipment timeout um I guess in years past if equipment were to malfunction or you know I guess that counts for something like a shoelace breaks or something like that you would be charged a time out to to to.

Fix that and this we are changing rules now to say it is not a charge timeout if it and and I saw this in Spain's head referee and a couple of tournaments where we had players show up with one paddle and the paddle breaks during their warm-up or during the first few rallies not because they trashed the paddle that's a different story but this.

It basically just broke right at the throat um they didn't have a second paddle interestingly enough and so now you know by rule we would have said well you got to use your normal time two timeouts before you can get an equipment timeout and Equipment timeout is only two minutes so the most if you hadn't.

Used any of your timeouts that you had is four minutes now how are you going to go get a paddle in four minutes
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Mark Peifer is the head of the rules committee for USA Pickleball and gives an update on all the rules we will be seeing changed in 2023. Most notably is the end of the spin serve as Mark explains the thinking behind the rules changes and what we should be looking out for in the new year.
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EPISODE TRACKLIST
0:00 Intro
1:00 Mark introduction
1:30 Spin serve is done
5:20 Why the spin serve is over
7:20 Court dimension rules
9:00 Service Replay/Fault
10:30 Re-serve vs Fault
12:00 What is a legal serve?
14:30 No Ref match rules
16:00 The “Am I Good?” rule
17:40 Wrong score called
20:30 Stop play on correct score
22:00 Hearing the score clearly
23:30 Color of clothing/ball
25:55 Color of paddles/balls
28:10 Whitwell Walkway
28:35 Equipment Timeout
30:35 Backup paddles
31:45 Last minute partner change rule?
33:40 UTPR vs UTR/DUPR
37:35 In defense of DUPR
39:30 UTPR improvements
40:30 Overview