Hiya welcome to Pickler the podcast my name is Stacy Townsend I'll be your host along with John the people's champ Davison John I'm really excited about tonight's episode what do you think the number one question or theme of questions uh we get over here at Pickler is what is John Davidson eating for.
Breakfast lunch and dinner I was actually going to say is John Davidson any good at pickleball but it's actually nothing about you John sorry to break it to you it's actually about the rules so I am super excited I'm not going to waste any time bring them right in we have the managing director of officiating from USA pickleball and I.
Have to tell you his backstory because it's quite impressive he's a former nuclear submarine officer which I imagine that is uh maybe a lot of math a lot of engineering and a lot of things Way Beyond my my lawyer brain but Mark after he after his pifer after his career there found pickleball got super involved with USA pickleball became a.
Referee and then he joined the rules committee and it climbed up the the USA pickleball ladder so to speak and really giving back to our sport so welcome Mark glad to be here thanks Stacy you too John so tell us how did you even get into pickleball after this nuclear submarine uh I don't know that my story is too.
Much different to anybody else somebody introduced it to me as a former tennis partner of mine uh lost track of him 15 years later I found him and he said he was in pickleball and he said you know he had given up tennis probably four years earlier and and said you gotta you gotta get into pickleball so I kind of filed that away and then five years.
Later when I actually did retire um I turned to my wife because I was sitting in uh Oceanside California where I'm talking to you from and I said I gotta I gotta have something to do in retirement and so we looked but she looked into something called Meetup I guess some some kind of process where you can meet up with people that are in.
Uh similar have a similar interests and she found a pickleball meet up on a Wednesday morning at 7 30 for free lessons but we showed up not knowing anything about the game and other than what my buddy had told me over the phone four years five years earlier and within 10 minutes I knew that was it I mean I was.
Trouble so that's very similar story a lot of people knew would you would you have thought you would have a second career essentially no I had no idea that I was going to end up uh where I'm at right now at that point I just wanted to have exercise get to meet people because I moved into the Oceanside community.
From Columbus Ohio so I didn't know anybody here other than my wife and a couple of neighbors but so that was a very big social outlet and I was shocked at how social the sport was uh it still is yeah so tell us what you do at USA pickleball because officiating I know covers a lot of things but maybe some.
People don't so tell us what your role is and what you help accomplish well I I consider myself dual headed so we'll just talk about the two different roles I play separately the first one uh is the managing director of officiating so that means uh the the whole referee program so whether we see the public sees referees at various tournaments.
That are live streaming right if you see it at app the PPA they see it MLP uh there's a lesser degree a national pickleball uh U.S open those referees every single referee you see no matter where they're at have all come through the USA pickleball referee training program training and development program and there's a very uh structured process.
To get to where they eventually end up on live stream not everybody just shows up and live stream you have to kind of prove your medal if you will the ability to be able to handle those kinds of matches so that that process is one that I'm responsible for the training development in fact I left another phone call just to come on this one I was.
Talking to we have nine evaluators in the country that are the ones that actually confer the the title of certified Referee on people who have made it to the kind of the Pinnacle of the of the referee treat so um they're talking about how do they maintain consistency among the evaluator so it's a constant uh review and.
Constant ability to look for ways to improve the process that I kind of kind of push along so that's been very fun and there's a host of people that are involved in this thing it's not just Mark pifer there's probably easily 80 people that are involved in various stages of the development program for referees in fact it's one of the.
Strengths of the program is the sense of community that we have to help other people come up come along as referees so that's the first first responsibility I have and with that comes ahead of referee responsibilities at certain tournaments you'll see me at uh national championships I'm the head ref national.
Championships in Indian Wells and this next week I'll be in Atlantic City with that indoor big indoor tournament that Jim Ludwig of U.S open Fame is is responsible for so be the hood referee there pictona in in December so various head referee responsibilities come with that territory um but the other responsibility of the.
Other hat that I wear is Chairman of the rules committee USA pickleball Rules Committee which is really kind of I think the focus of this discussion here what's going on with the rules you know what what can we expect in terms of rules for next year that kind of thing so um that one is uh I spend a lot of time on that a lot of time answering.
Questions that come in through email uh I finally got to the point where so there were so many people involved in that that uh questions asking questions that I had to bring in eight other people to help me answer these questions because the questions are coming from around the world you know I'll pick them all so as as this sport grows sort of.
The number of questions about how you play the game foreign yeah how many refs do you have under your wing around the world we have uh right now 811 distinct differently just now that's all levels that's a level one level two and certified and the certified ranks the highest rank we have we have just over 200.
And as you can imagine they're concentrated in different Pockets where do all the players and players are in Florida players are in Arizona California that's where we have the highest concentration of referees as well and that's one of the challenges in the program is yeah you know if you have a tournament in Maine where they don't.
Have a whole lot of certified refs there so how do you get them there so uh that's the kind of thing that is a challenge for various tournaments John have you ever refereed a match I have I I refereed a couple and I have to give credit it is you know I know the rules and as a player for some reason it's.
Second nature kind of the score as a referee that is hard you have to I think it's one extra person to manage in your head because you know when you're playing you're one of the four so referee that is a tough job yeah I did it once at a lucy kitchen tournament back that way um and it was like my second or third.
Tournament ever I think probably like the third tournament and um Adam Bell she was like hey do you want to do this one with me or do you want to do this and I'm like sure and it was hard to like keep up with uh and I think it was like a three five gold medal right so it was manageable in terms of the pace of the play you know it wasn't Pro but.
Um it was definitely hard to pay attention to everything that was going on and keep track of the score um I think I might have forgot a couple times I think I actually let I think I made two mistakes too I let someone and uh serve from the wrong spot for like two serves in a row you you wouldn't have passed the evaluators.
I would not have yeah I would have failed you know John that's an interesting story because that's the first mistake I made as a as a drafty referee hey we need help anybody available that's how I got into refereeing I made a mistake just like you did of it somebody served 22 no two times in a row and I.
Didn't know what the rule was and I was embarrassed so I said what's the last time that happens oh has it happened again no since then all right well I'll have to find some video of you uh see if I see if you made any errors oh there's no doubt you'll find a couple errors that's one of the strengths of the program and one of the.
Things I emphasize that uh if we're making mistakes and we're learning from them we're getting better and so um the referees know that that I am very tolerant of mistakes because as long as they learn from it and don't repeat them over and over again so it's it's one of the things that helps us get better do you have any idea how many games.
You've officiated Mark you know there are referees who keep very close track of that it's never been something that I felt was personally important so no I have no idea how many I mean I can tell you the mistakes I've made to John's point I know exactly what I mean I know who I made them with and I and I share those with the referees at the right.
Times in its training sessions well mm-hmm we're human right we're all going to make mistakes at the end of the day what uh what's your best pitch for someone to become a Referee because I you know 811 is great but I know we need more especially as the game really grows and in those different areas so what's.
Your best idea I think it's really simple I think if you want the best seat in the house come be a referee if you want to learn the rules and I actually tell everybody look in fact I usually when I used to teach actively I would say come learn the secrets about playing the game that only referees know you come you come to a class I'm going.
To tell you nine if not ten things about the rules where you can either gain an advantage using the rule book or prevent yourself from losing a point to somebody who thinks they knew the roles better than you do and uh it's it's so whether you become a Referee or not come to this session just to learn what we know about the rules.
But the other thing that I think really drives home is that I think people will become a Referee if they see themselves and others if I see somebody who for example is a an engineer another engineer well if they're a referee I can be a referee if I'm a school teacher oh well Trish windrow is a schoolteacher if she.
Can be a I can be a referee so I'm sure I think if we make those kind of personal connections and people to see themselves and others they'll become or at least become interested in at least seeing what this is all about and then once we get them in the classroom and they see the sense of community that we have and how we all helping each other.
Uh that's really that's really a powerful connection um that's that common experience of going through the same training program is very very powerful Bond right so are you referees in the background always talking about the rules is that what the conversation is it is part of.
Probably one of the most enjoyable things about going to a tournament as a referee are those conversations would have a how would you have handled this this is what just happened to me on court 14 how would you handle this comment from this player so I'm sure the pros and the players all talk about us I mean uh because we we.
Talk about them and what yeah we talk about Tendencies you know especially with the pro players and amateurs it's a little more difficult but the pro players because they're so visible uh I love the conversations about well who's got the best earning in the game and how do you know it's coming so.
That's kind of an advanced level of refereeing when we start talking about the tendency of different players and share those Tendencies so we can be on top of it before it is that's it you've got to anticipate some of these moves that they make yeah so if someone's uh uh frequent Ernie or Bert or whatever poaching a lot.
You can kind of know that going in okay I really have to pay attention to that person yeah yeah right something like that yeah and from it and I share this with the level two referees who want to become certified one of my favorite questions I ask them is similar to this they come off the court after I've watched them in an observation I'll say.
Okay which of the four players had the closest or was most likely to create or conduct or have an illegal serve which one of the four players was most likely to have a footfall so I'm trying to look for their power of observation and their anticipatory skills which is kind of a different question for referees.
It's kind of a high order higher order it's refereeing 301 not 101. is is Colleen a kitchen football the best moment as a referee no I think the best moment as a referee is knowing you did a good job afterwards uh that you didn't make any mistake since scoring calling the score getting score backwards I think that's probably.
The best moment it's never I don't think it's ever a best moment that you find fault that someone else has done um it's um now if you miss it that's not very good especially if it's on YouTube you know and everybody's talking about it so all the YouTube comments are going off on you yeah that's that's probably.
Not the best day to have but uh finding the faults is not the issue it's I think it's really that having the satisfaction that you did a really good job and you know it well it sounds like the referee's job's only going to get harder right with all the YouTube but more more eyes on the sport uh more people watching maybe.
Until we get the Hawkeye and pickleball then it might be a little easier well we're making that transition we're getting there gradually you see the the Advent now instant replay in the PPA and app you're going to see it at Nationals uh first time at Nationals we're going to have instant replay there that's kind of the Forerunner of Hawkeye type system.
That I eventually if there's more money comes into the game that's really the only barrier we have right now and the Technologies available if the money is just not there to pay for it but uh when we get there then yeah we'll you'll certainly see it yeah like the MLP has the 360 Cam and then app uh I know boxcar they have.
Those I don't know if you were you in Atlanta this past weekend um so yeah I was like watching the stream and uh they have those really nice sideline and Baseline cams now and they can they're still hot they're really high def like zoomed in on the line and I'm like wow that's that's.
Pretty impressive um so we're getting there it's just taking time just taking time and I give the guys a boxcar credit um USA pickleball we have a kind of a partnership with them for some of the events the NCS events and and uh they responded in a big way and uh Kyle solenko and his crew at boxcar got these.
Cameras which I think are state of the art to your point John very high resolution the frame rate uh is still kind of choppy when you get to a certain you know zoom zoom uh point and slowly but I think eventually we'll we'll fix that as well oh yeah the equipment that um Kyle has invested in is absolutely Bonkers.
Um State I don't know if you I'm sure Mark I'm sure you've seen the production that he has the trailer Stacy I don't know if you've seen it but it is it is legit I mean he's easily got a hundred thousand dollars of equipment in there wow with the cameras it's it's pretty impressive um.
So it's definitely getting better and better I feel like every tournament there's something new they're trying um so yeah right there so you think this will be the solution to maybe some of the line call drama we've seen lately at the program well certainly I think is the solution to the Dilemma over whether.
We have line judges in the game you don't see those anymore and the reason you don't is because we didn't have a very good uh experience base of blind judges um you know those of us who have been in the game now for you know four or five years know the line judges came out of the stands and you never know how many.
Beers they already had in there they are and we saw that unfortunately yeah cheers and um you know thinking back on it now is like oh my gosh how did we get ourselves in you know having line judges that were just volunteers but back then that's all we knew right um.
Um but I think it's really a solution to the line judge dilemma can we still have lunges yes we can we still train uh our certified referees to deal with line judges and every referee is by definition a potential lying judge if we get ourselves into a into a tournament setting where the pros are asking or even amateurs for that matter.
Are asking for mine judges because they're concerned about the line calls on the other side what we see with the instant replay are only certain matches typically you know Championship Saturday or Championship Sunday we don't have the capability of doing all courts that are live streamed.
Line judges may still we may we may still see line judges in a limited capacity yeah I agree with you I think the line judges are my favorite system and and I'm curious on your take on this is the two referee system the one on each side of the kitchen I feel like that's the best you know because the one referee is.
Kind of focused on his side of the court and maybe the kitchen maybe you can elaborate on this to like because I'm curious on what each one is really looking for but I just assume that one is keep you know keeping score obviously return or server whatever and then like one half of the court and then the other ref is really focused on.
The kitchen and the other half of the Court um is that your favorite system I love the two ref system uh but most people might find it of interest that the responsibilities of those two referees are very very similar the only time we actually say okay you look at X and you look at Y is on the serve the person who.
Has the clipboard who we call the lead Referee on the serve is looking at the service motion the supporting referee across the the net the other Net post is looking at the feet placement so that's the only time we have different responsibilities on what you look for after that after the serve then both those referees across the net from each.
Other are looking at exactly the same stuff they're looking at footfalls they're looking at earnings and that's really the Advent of this to referee system I give credit uh the kind of the idea was hatched at Toc in 2019. uh don Stanley had uh the mixed doubles final I had the men's uh gold medal match.
At Toc and uh we were there as single referees and we missed a couple of Ernie's and after that Don uh came up with the idea of the two referee system which is now universally adopted at tournaments at the highest levels of the pros because of the pace of the game the speed of the game especially it's really the Ernie that drove the two referee.
System so if you're the referee and you have you know try some Loom coming coming you know coming right at you guess what you're not going to see that launch point and you're probably not going to see The Landing point but the referee across the net you've got a great view of it so that's really um kind of the reason.
Behind the two referee system yeah and you can correct me if I'm wrong but I feel like the hardest ball when you have a one ref right the hardest footfall to call is the push-off because you're looking at the other side's foot right while this person's already going you know so it's like I always see it's.
Usually the push-off that's always the one that's missed because the eyes are still focused on this person's volley when this guy's already going right so um is that is that what you no actually actually for several of us um uh not to be boastful or not but if you know what to look for and back to the our conversation on Tendencies push-ups is.
One of the easiest ones to find uh because you know it's only going to happen on a lob so if you're watching the feed and you can you can tell when somebody lobs a ball in the air or hits it too high then it's a it's a quick transition if you if your eyes are trained you can see both non-volley Zone lines through your peripheral vision but.
And we spent a lot of time teaching the strength and the power of your peripheral vision just referees because they think they got to do this they don't they can stay right here and they can actually see more than what they actually can think they can see so you see you all you don't even watch the ball gut you just sense the balls going.
Up in the air and then boom you know what to look for and you look boom right over here and that push-off football is actually very easy to call the quick the hardest part is whether they get two feet down and so what we do is we train them to count one two watch the feet you don't watch the ball being hit but you listen.
For the ball off the paddle so if you hear you know if you hear that ball coming off the paddle before you get to number two guess what you've got to push off football if they if one two land and then you'll hear the the ball hit the paddle everything's fine so it's a matter of training and.
Experience and tendencies and what to look for and how to look for it here hey I I've been called on that one myself I feel like that's the only time I've actually been called in the kitchen is don't push off off the uh lob um what I was at what I meant to say was I think I said it wrong was to push off.
For the urn absolutely yeah like that's the one I think is the hardest one and then people you know in YouTube comments right or whatever be like how did they rough miss that I'm like well because they were still looking yes you know that's on the other side exactly right that's why the second ref is so important at the highest.
Levels of the game right absolutely yeah 100 percent um but yeah I don't like that uh the overhead the push-off overhead one because I've been called on that well you know when I'm the head referee we always talk about um uh what's changed from day to day and.
If you go from Singles where you can actually can move your head back and forth and you're expecting because you gotta you have a better chance of an appealed on a line call and actually seeing it rather than saying hey I didn't really see it because I was walking feet of the non-volley center uh so if you're in you have singles day and.
Then you go to mix doubles day and if you have mixed doubles they we talk about you know all right what are we going to see here we're going to see push off footfalls all right who's the most likely to create to push or actually conduct it well it's going to be usually the guy right because there isn't a guy over six two doesn't think.
He can't get to everything right so we talk about it we actually talk about it uh all all athletic men and women are the ones that are most likely to create the push on footfalls so um it's again at the at the highest levels of refereeing it's all about knowing and predicting where the next fault is going to occur and be there to.
Watch for it when it happens John I think you just tipped off all the referees they know what you anticipate John you're in trouble now yeah I'm making my comeback app Alabama so I don't I don't I better not get one football ball while I'm there we're gonna have to follow up on that yeah I'm gonna have to uh bribe Mark.
Here to tell us his uh his people yep just let me go well I want to change Jewels but before I do big shout out to the referees thank you for all of your passion and commitment to the game and making it better and Mark thanks for leading the charge there so I want to turn to your second hat now.
With the rules committee and I would love for you to kind of explain the process because you've done a lot of changes to make it more transparent which I think is wonderful and I'd love for you to explain that uh to our faith yeah so uh prior to two years ago I don't think it was well known how you get a rule into the rule book who's.
Involved who approves and so we kind of uncloaked all that two years ago to explain the processes there's actually a written process you can go into USA pickleball website and you can read the process that we're using this year but one of the two things one explain the process but it also make it.
Transparent so you can actually watch the rules Come Through the various stages of development and review and approval and uh it's a lot of work as you can imagine because before then it was all done kind of behind closed doors and uh nobody knew what was really going on and when it was going to happen with that.
Comes a certain amount of accountability right now we're about um well I'm supposed to have the rules committed voting results posted by the process the end of August we're you know 14 days late on that because we had a couple of rules committee meetings we had to cancel for various reasons so.
We're a little bit behind the schedule and so you know they've got the schedule out there it's very transparent and I had my first email this morning from somebody hey you said you're going to have it out there on the 31st of August what's going on so um that's the downside of being transparent as people hold you.
Accountable so um but that's part of the that's part of the expectations here and I think a good point is the pickleball playing public can is actively involved in it right like I as a USA pickleball member or pickleball player can submit a recommendation or even even comment on other people's.
Recommendations at certain points of the years like whenever the process yeah process opens up typically in April for the following year rule book and uh anybody there's a USA pickleball member can actually submit a rule proposal it goes in unfettered untouched some of them are little um.
Some might be in conflict with two or three other rules that would really change the game so sometimes we'll ask that person do you really know what you're asking us to do here and that's Bob Swiss Helm's responsibility a lot of people know Bob from refereeing he's a great ref and he's got some I.T work background in.
This experience and so I asked him to help us develop the open architecture for the open Forum of that so there is a process where any USA pickleball member can submit the proposal it goes into the database as is and then anybody you don't even have to be a USA pickleball member anybody then can comment on the rules that have been.
Put into the database so they stay in there until in this case uh the middle of July and then we closed not only the submission window but also the comment window and then the rules committee starts doing their work and by that I mean we went through every one of the 77 rules that were submitted.
We met every Thursday uh every Thursday at four o'clock Pacific seven o'clock Eastern for like 10 10 weeks in a row until we made our way all the way through all 77. in fact we're having this conversation on Wednesday tomorrow night is there is our last meeting.
We have one more meeting to talk about uh one last Rule and then we'll be done for 2023. um and and then what's the next the next step the next step in the process is uh uh once we vote on each one of them then we take uh the rules as is uh how we might have modified them uh sometimes we will reword the the rule proposal to.
Make it a little more um understandable but we'll vote on it and then we send it to the USA pickleball board of directors and they are more than likely are going to get this uh Friday of this week they will get what we've just voted on Friday of this week and then they have.
About a month to review it and then I'll have a meeting with them to answer any questions uh and then by the first of December we should have it and good enough shape that we can release it publicly and that starts the 30-day clock so that all players around the world can see what's coming in 20 in.
January 1st of 2023 and get used to the rules play if there's anything that affects play on the court get used to it thank you now you have um you have players on that committee right like Rob Cassidy's one yes Rob is uh kind of the pro player representative on the rules committee we have five members.
Of the rules committee um that are they're all a matter of record uh Jeff shank is a certified referee Ken schoonover certified referee Karen Parish myself and then of course Rob Cassidy those are the five members of the rules committee I love whenever I see Rob Cassidy playing and there's a rules debate I.
Just get fired up because he just he knows it all too right so he does he's it's it's funny uh I'll tell you what he's been a real Delight to work with on the rules committee he's got a really different perspective and I was afraid that he would come in with only the pro player viewpoint on rules and he is completely surprised me and I think the.
Other members of the rules committee he spends more time thinking about how this rule would affect the amateur player that he does the pro player so he has a very broad sense of responsibility for his participation in the rules committee it's been he's made us rethink a couple of things which I'm very pleasantly surprised.
Yeah I think you know he's a perfect person for the job because he is so connected with the amateur Community as well as he is such a respected pro at the same time so um then of course he travels everywhere every weekend so he meets everyone he gets all these different perspectives.
Right so um he's definitely a good guy on the team I feel like I tease up a good question what do you think of or what what framework when a rule is submitted Mark or how do you evaluate it are you thinking is it good for the amateur or the pro how does like what's overall.
Framework and what a great question uh for the first time we actually put that in place uh two years ago and uh last year in this current 2022 rule book we actually published it in the rule book you go to the back of the rule book you'll see the the three priorities that we have as a rules committee and the first priority is does it maintain does.
This rule or rule change maintain the Integrity of the game second thing is that is it good for the players is there an advantage to the how you learn the game teach the game and play the game and then the third and last priority is it is it enforceable is it a rule that's enforceable by referees uh if you have a referee or if you don't.
Have a rough week is it easy enough for the players themselves to enforce the rule without an official on the court so those three priorities Integrity of the game What's good for the players what's good for the enforcement of the of the rule are the framework that we operate under so any rule proposal has to hit at least.
One of those three elements hmm what is the craziest rule proposal you've ever seen I would love to answer that John but if I did answer that here's the thing I have to keep in mind everybody who submits a rule proposal to them that's the most important rule in the.
World and so they're personally committed to it so if I were to publicly say hey this particular rule that was submitted was crazy I would immediately be an enemy of that person and all their friends all right well respectfully I want to listen the next time the next time I see.
You at a tournament I'm asking that question all right okay that's fair I won't be on the air this time let's ask this one John what what are the Hot Topic rules this year and I'm sure I could guess uh at least one of them yeah there's a couple obviously come right to the Forefront one is the Spencer what are we going to do with.
That um um I think we've had now a good year of watching that and seeing what's happened what has happened with it um a couple of things that I thought would happen have not happened and other things I wasn't expecting uh have have happened so that was an interesting.
Debate we had at the rules committee we've already obviously voted on it uh it'll go to the board here as I said maybe as early as Friday um the other one is uh rally scoring it's got a lot of interest uh we see it at MLP we see the excitement behind that and uh so that's that's kind of you know you know there's kind of three different.
Versions about at least three different versions of rally scoring would we put something in the rule book that would allow the tournament director to have the option of using rally scoring so that's that we had a big debate about that um I'm not prepared to tell you you know where it's going because I don't know.
What the board's going to do with it um I can tell you we had a split vote on it in the rules committee um so uh those are probably did you have a split vote on the spin serve too or just the rally just the rally scoring the Spencer I think was in the turns out to be a relatively easy boat.
Uh for this rules committee the um I'm excited to learn what that will be once it comes out I know you can't I know you can't drop us drop it on us right now but I thought Mark was gonna say that was what they were meeting about tomorrow Oh I thought that was going to be the outstanding one that had to be the first.
One on the docket if I had it if I had to imagine and I that I could guess who the email was that Mark got it might have been Zayn navratil so asking where's the answer to this uh several discussions with Zane about the spin serve that's actually and John sinkola and and others that use it actively um.
But I've also talked to a lot of folks who don't use it and you could get their their thoughts on it as well and as have the other rules committee members we've all done our own due diligence on on this independently we come together and discuss it in the boat so um any other rules so Spencer I don't mind.
Telling you because you know maybe as early as Friday it'll be published um so it's not too big of a secret but I I'm not optimistic that the Spencer Will Survive how's that for an answer I'll make sure you drop this on on Saturday mark that's gonna be funny once it uh like it doesn't pass or whatever it's the.
Opposite direction John where do you stand on the spin serve um I'm kind of 50 50. I think it got uh a little out of control you know um but is like holding it with in your palm you know like.
The answer I don't I don't know um I do think that I don't know if this is a rule but um or if it was kind of an on you know an unspoken rule that you had to at least show the hand well I don't know if that was a rule or not um but I know like Zayn stopped doing the hiding it right because you know I learned the way to read it this past.
Weekend when I played a game against sinkola because I haven't played against anybody that had a spin serve you know and I finally learned it I'm like okay well now you can read it but sometimes the ball really kicks and it's kind of like well maybe it's just going too far you don't want to be like tennis where it's just all serve you know I think.
Pickleball is exciting because of those long rallies those battles of the kitchen line I think that's what makes pickleball really exciting um so I don't know I feel like the pro players have started to read it a lot more um but I wouldn't mind if it went away yeah I think John you bring up a couple.
Of really good points we when we allow the Spencer to survive for 2022 we said we were going to watch a couple things one is how deeply and widely does the dispenser penetrate the sport well it hasn't gone real deep it hasn't gone real wide especially on the women's side of the game um so if it was if it penetrated the.
Sport widely then I the argument about well you'll get used to it if you'll see it enough that was compelling and the other thing that we said you know has never been outlawed in the sports since since 1965 you could always impart spin on it so that that had a kind of a strong reason for why we allowed it to occur in 2022.
But as we've watched it now for almost what eight nine months it hasn't penetrated the sport very very deeply or widely so it's become a specialized shot for many players and those that have perfected it can do some really amazing things with it and from the amateur standpoint a lot of the amateurs and Pros for that matter still play on.
Converted tennis courts that have now four pickleball courts on it so a really good Spencer Creator can drive that receiver into the side fences and now the sport has changed so that is probably one of the biggest reasons why the rules committee was uh you know took a really close look at this it was it was a it was a long discussion because.
We understand and recognize you know the power of innovation in the sport and not at the expense of having fun at the sport yeah exactly I mean you definitely want Innovation right but like you said I mean I don't think Zayn is any worse of a player or didn't call any worse of a player if he doesn't serve.
You know I think it was an extra tool in the box but it wasn't deterring the rest of the points right because once the players figured it out they were returning the law anyways yeah yeah well you saw that you should say the Spencer Atlanta um I don't know some of the some of the returns were shorter I think than what.
The receiver really wanted to have but they all got it back across so yeah I would say it's more of a problem in singles because the singles return is so important right so it's like when you have that that has been served and it really kicks and you just have to make the ball over because it went a different direction.
Well now it's not the serve that's the it's the the one that's the winner it's the third ball because the guy's halfway in the car already you know um and that was my one thing against Zayn a while back when they were first starting to Outlaw it or write the talk was he's like well look I don't win any.
Points on my serve and I'm like yeah but you win it on the third you know because the ball is landing in the kitchen line like four feet high right so like um that's where I stand with it doubles it's not as big of a deal but singles for sure what about rally rally scoring mark which I went into that decision.
Was MLP like a good case study for the committee that's that's undeniable what's going on with MLP you watch the Players you talk to the players um uh it's fun they're having a good time with it it's entertaining um so as the governing body our responsibility.
Is to see what's happening this Sport and predicting where the Sport's going and have the rules prepared for the future and you know a lot of people say well Rally Sport is really designed for television so that's coming or the potential for the Olympics well that had very little to do with our discussion on.
The rally scoring proposal the the stronger argument was what's what's going on with MLP and I think there's also a desire you know when we get to television or we get to weather delays like we had in app Atlanta to be able to modify the format of the tournaments and get it caught back up right now the only option we have is go to 1 to 15 put.
Everybody in a different one to 15 format Well yeah if we had rally scoring we could move everybody you know on a weather delay it looks like we're going to lose this day well if we can get you know two or three hours we go to Rally scoring everybody gets a chance to still play in this tournament which is important because it has National you.
Know Championship implications so uh or money implications so from when you're from a pro standpoint you know tournaments are points tournaments or money so uh they don't get much if if the tournament is canceled so if we have an opportunity to get these matches in it it's meaningful might be the way to do it.
Yeah I think it's a good point about I didn't think about the weather delay right because Stacy I don't know if well I'm sure you knew but um you know Atlanta opened they had the four covered but the problem with the covered was is it doesn't cover enough of the sides so two of the courts still depending on which way the rain's going still get wet.
So you really had two courts that you could play on pretty much one the entire time actually made it it actually made it more intimate because everybody was watching One chord so literally all the pros played on one Court the entire time so I actually kind of liked it it was almost like an MLP because it was everybody was watching it so it sucks.
That the stream never never got it right but you had every Pro every person there watching you know first round matches so it's kind of cool um but it would make sense you know if you had the rally scoring that it might make the game Move Along faster you know.
Um but I think rally scoring is pretty much if you think about what another Advent of the game that we see in the PPA you'll see it at National you saw it at National Championships his championship Sunday is you know best three out of five well you know if you start bumping up against you know TV limitations then.
Having the opportunity in that fifth game to go to a rally scoring to get it back on time is a potential that's not there yet but could be so yeah I think it should be um I I don't think it should be mandatory for all tournaments but I think it.
Should have the option like if you were to ask me my opinion I think it should be an option within the rules that says you can use rally scoring and these are the ways you can use it and so yes John you're right I think or most people think you hear rally scoring their first reaction is no no and no because they think of it as either or it's either.
Side out scoring or rally scoring well how about if we've developed a yeah on the optionality of this or maybe this depending on the situation and let the tournament directory kind of Select so oh yeah for sure um I think there's positives of both no go ahead stays I was just gonna ask you think it will cause any confusion it may.
Be the beginner or amateur level by having both if maybe they learned One Way versus the other or how do you think that will play out oh I think most people still learn side out scoring um but I do think well people are already playing recreationally rally scoring because it's quicker right you've got 40 paddles lined up you.
Switch to Rally scoring you can get up you can get a match in pretty quick so there's advantages of disadvantage you don't you don't have to wait as long but the games don't last as long either but at least you're out there more frequently um and that's going on you know even though there isn't any rally scoring in.
The official rule book um I think the the method that the MLP has picked uh has got some real advantages to it because there is no switching of signs so from a from an enforcement standpoint or referee standpoint um it's you can use the same score sheet if one of the other options of rally.
Scoring is what they do in badminton well if we switch to the badminton format whereas a successful server you want to point you switch you select over the other side um you have to have a different score sheet in rally scoring than you have inside App Store with the MLP version uh you keep the same score sheet and.
It's very easy to officiate so yeah I I like that facet as well that you can just stay on whatever side you want I I think that one it gets rid of the wrong side thing yeah right the wrong server because you hear the score you're like oh odd the person on the left serves you know.
Um I I it just makes the game really simple to understand I think for a lot of people watching it as well where you know um brand new people watching the sport are obviously gonna get confused with the score that's probably one of the most biggest limitations right when someone's watching it for the first time.
Like how do they even keeping score you know which is fine every Sport's like that right you know you watch I still don't know how rugby scored and I barely know I barely know how Cricket is scored because I watched a documentary on Netflix you know like and podcast Nick is obsessed with Indian Premier League uh cricket but still so confusing right.
So but I still think the rally scoring will help definitely that you know for TV for sure I agree with you should that come into one of the priorities uh pickleball is a fan or spectator should that be something that weighs on the rules committee it has not today been.
One of the things that we consider uh we really aren't focused on the three things we talked about earlier Integrity of the game players and enforcement of the game the uh spectator aspect of this is uh kind of a distant fourth if at all interestingly enough it's a great.
Question I never really thought about it but um yeah it really doesn't come into play what's what's great what's best for The Spectator has not been part of our thinking well I think it's kind of like chicken and egg problem I think pickleball hopes or once more fans and Spectators uh.
But we don't have them quite to the same level as maybe some other sports so it's hard to put that as one of the top priorities when pickleball has such great participation but just curious on your thoughts on that well that's why I think when people you know argue the relative merits of rally scoring on Facebook which I spent some time.
Watching what goes on in Facebook Stacy you know this from your time we were working together it's amazing what you can find our conflicts in the rule book if you pay attention to the dialogue on Facebook or these uh you know the dink or or other you know the kitchen you know those kinds of forums.
You'll find the errors in the rule book and over the last three years now we've fixed a lot of those issues and uh but you got to pay attention you gotta listen you got to read you got to pay attention to what's going on so the spectators whether they realize it or not have had an impact on the rule book Because as as you know the year that we.
Had 125 rule book changes most of those were all editorial and they were all almost exclusively driven by Facebook comments and I know for a fact Mark Mark is looking for all those rules comments so you're you're not uh going unheard folks Mark is out there listening I mean it's a good place to look that's how a lot of.
People communicate now you know um it definitely gives you ideas to look at I always liked um when Don Stanley would propose those out of the box yeah those questions I kind of wish he would start doing that again or if he's still doing that maybe I'm just missing him but I always liked those where he'd be like player a serves.
To player C but B is like in the bathroom so like what do you do you know and yeah it's like the most it's a very very good friend Ricky and I are very close and he still does those he and I he and I will still have phone calls in fact I talked to him yesterday about a scenario and he called me right back probably 20 minutes later what would you.
Do if and so he and I are constantly challenging one another and it's a it's a great relationship he also has a phone call with a referees are going to ref the next PPA event he has that on Monday nights and he uh throws those challenges out to the referees so he's still doing it in a smaller audience yeah now okay.
You know I have I have a suggestion this is my one this is my one thing okay I'm gonna write it down when when will refs have iPads with an electronic scoring system that's just makes it easier for them instead of a clipboard and a paper because I think it does two things one I feel like if somebody designed it good enough.
You don't have to do the flips and the paper clips and the pencils right you just hit like this whatever you know you hit the scores and then two it'll send live scores to the tournament software those are my two things that I feel like would be awesome is that on the horizon and I'll tell you what's going to drive it cool the gambling is going to drop.
Gambling for sure which I think is great the gambling networks are going to require it because you know they want to be able to set the match up so that the pers people that are doing the gambling can Gambler on what's going to happen after this you know switch at six who's who's going to win you know the second half of.
This game kind of thing so they want more data yeah more data is going to drive it uh what's been the limitation so far is um you know what is the interface is it a phone is it an iPad is it a special uh pad that's developed just for the software you also have the issues with um the lighting.
Um you know you got issues with all these are solvable but it takes a concentrated effort you don't have to get down to kind of one maybe two different platforms and you can't have 15 different ones out there um I probably evaluated personally um five of these they all they all have certain.
Limitations and then we work with them and then um that seem to disappear it's too hard or whatever but uh but we also have USA pickleball has a relationship with a a certain provider that we're working with on this thing so so you have the limitations on lighting sometimes you know Sun direct sunlight everybody who.
Has a cell phone knows what that does to like you know electronics screen uh if it if you drop it you break it what happens so two things will happen I think gambling will drive it and then we have to design these pickleball only venues to have uh ethernet in right into just like tennis does if you if you want a tennis chair umpires at the better.
Venues they have the chair Empire they have the pad right next to them they've got an umbrella that covers it and uh so they but they're off the core bit you know so there's some trade-offs there yeah uh for pickleball referees because we in order to watch that non-volley zone line we don't want to be too far away from that Net post.
So if we get you know too close with a you know with a stand a stanchion there on the court now we now we end up affecting potential atps right or early moves and so these are all workable but I think they'll be workable with a venue that's designed from the ground up with this in mind do you think this will be in the next.
Year five years what do you think uh as soon as the first gambling uh tournament is created you'll see it I'm pretty certain if not for that tournament soon thereafter but I also I also there's another aspect we haven't talked about this is a little this is a fun conversation I've been a.
Great time here I think the other thing we have to think about um I'd be shocked if we didn't get into gambling without having a drug uh testing policy in the in the game I mean I can't believe that the the folks that are going to allow folks can gamble on the game.
Would allow them would allow that kind of money to be at stake if we did yeah assurances that the players were um drug free yeah um so has has USA pickleball met with like uh those type of bodies like usada and those type of governing bodies for the anti-doping yes uh we we.
Have inquired what is uh what do they do in tennis that's probably the that's our constant probably closest sister sport that we have in fact I just personally looked at that about three weeks ago um anticipating this was going to come up at the at the latest board meeting in the board the USA pickleball board is actively discussing both these topics.
Right now we'll have something here uh developed we may not have it shared but we'll have certainly internal uh internally developed yeah so I just looked it up to ATP uses ITF as they have their own anti-doping program I guess I'm more familiar with.
Usada um and then whatever the NCAA uses um but then it's like when do you test people you know like do you show up on their doorstep on a Wednesday when they're home you know like do you do it before the tournament after the tournament during the tournament.
Um either way though I think it will be necessary um especially with gambling coming in I think gambling is great for the sport I think it should happen and I'm also all good for a fair clean sport as well those are the pro level amateurs you know if they want to take steroids then.
Whatever more power to them for the first time we're going to we're going to have a paddle testing program so that's kind of a uh an outgrowth of the recent experiences this year so you'll see paddle testing then you'll see you know um gambling then you'll see as we talked about uh drug testing so all those.
Things are reflective of how big the sport is growing at least at the professional level yeah you um the PPA took my idea about the power protests I put that on Facebook and they uh they ran with it Al Al uh protested somebody I think what who was it Paris Paris yeah it works I race cars and we do that you.
Know if you think someone's cheating okay put the money up what does it take to replace it plus a fee right you know um and then you put the money on the line I don't know so Mark are all these things going to come under managing director of officiating.
Uh I think uh I don't know that it'll come under efficient you'll probably come to their competition so in the current uh organization USA pickleball I would imagine this would come under Karen Parish but you know she's loaded up right now so I mean it's going to probably be another job for somebody.
Else or a couple of people are there any other big issues like this that you see USA pickleball or tackle tackling or you think those are those are I think I think those as discrete issues are big I think there's also the bigger picture of the potential for Olympics and how we position USA pickleball and the sport in the United.
States to be ready for that um I still think that's a ways away but I can tell you there are folks that are already working on what the requirements are how do we position the sport in the United States this whole uh international governing body is uh you know Justin Malouf Chief Operating Officer USA Piccolo.
Spending a lot of time on the international um Viewpoint what what do we need to have internationally because we've got to have an international governing body before you can even talk about Olympic participation so if people want to know whether you know they're 35 a year USA.
Pickleball fee goes to well I've just I've just numb mentioned a couple of things that most people don't realize that's what you're funding you're funding the potential for an international governing body and being ready for potential Olympics you're you're funding our ability to get the sport ready for these big.
Picture items it's definitely a lot to tackle a lot of exciting issues but as as complicated as it is it's all good problems right the sports growing and really reaching a worldwide stage in place which is exciting to to be in it right it's a great time to be involved in the sport uh as a player as an administrator.
As a as a referee it's a great time and look what it's done for you guys I mean you you have this platform I mean uh and the influence that you have on the sport is unmistakable people tune in to find out what's going on in the sport and you guys are you have the connections you you have the connections in your roles here that other the average player.
Doesn't have so they tune in to see what do you know who do you know who do you have on their show that can share what's going on in the industry mm-hmm we're just out to grow the game we want everybody to play yeah so John do you have any last questions for Mark I might have one more I do.
Um so I was commentating a match at app Philly I think I was at um and there was a point and it was when DJ young did an around the back um you know volley and one of the players thought it hit him right because a few.
Points before he did the same thing and it hit him first all you know Andre dieesku stopped and I was like no that hit you right and they're like no it didn't hit me whatever so then all four players agreed to look at the replay and they didn't want they you know.
Because the ref didn't see so all four players are saying we will we will agree with what the replay says even though there's no challenge system and so you know Spencer the guy next to me the production is looking it up you know and they're just all looking at us like what is it and I was like well you.
Know it didn't hit him and then of course that wasn't like in adherence to the rules I guess because there's no official challenge but do you see that as a problem if all four players are like whatever the replay says let's just do it over or play it or do you think the ref has to say no that's.
Not allowed well I won't get into the specifics of that example but I I am I'm on record as saying I I do not like and I think it's a dangerous precedent with all four players decide what the outcome of a match or outcome of rally is going to be and uh you know we had this a couple uh we'll have this last year where you know.
The referee will make a call or something will happen on the court and the four players come together and say we just want we'll just replay it well wait a minute there's no rule that allows that um and if you think about it from the gambling still go back to this gambling can you imagine what the gamblers would.
Think if the players then could be outside the rules and decide among themselves uh well we're just going to serve it around and make it even for everybody yeah so uh and then you get into well you know John we gave you we you know we served around because you got caught on that 10 second violation John uh so why aren't you doing the same.
Thing for this footfall we just got called on so you can you can see you know kind of subtle bullying going on or influencing so so this serving around uh the four players deciding what the outcome of Rally's going to be I'm dead set against for a lot of reasons if um and I've only mentioned two of them.
So yeah what about in Rec play what does that happen without it at the pros Rec play okay to replay no it's it's yeah of course it is and we all do it I think we just got to be really careful when we got money at stake and.
Especially because I said when Gammon comes into the sport uh yeah I think I I agree with you I think sometimes you know it's like sometimes you can tell all four players are very genuine for it but then there's also that which those four were right they're like hey whatever it is like do it right.
Um but then there's also the cases where you will have someone who'd be like no I saw this and then they get bullied out of it right so and you see that you know oh that that line oh that ball was in yeah we already see it there's certain players and and the referees know who these guys are and gals are.
There's men and women and we'll take every opportunity to try and influence the call if not that call certainly the next one and whether they try to do it with a referee or their opponents uh it's it's part of Sportsman we know what happens so yeah well that was my question Stace you just have to snap back way out way.
Out that's that's all you just have to be affirmative I guess my my question for you mark before we wrap it up if you could change one rule you didn't have to go through the committee just markets to decide do you have a rule or that you would change or propose uh uh I've already done it.
Yeah it's already been done were you successful yes can we know what rule you proposed and what was what was important yeah I'll share it with you um it's actually rule 67 um and that is the rule on line calls where as players in order to call the ball out we actually have to see the.
Space between the the ball and the line um and that has probably been very controversial because that means if you don't see the space you may actually be playing an outlaw but because you didn't see the space you couldn't call it out so it's an imperfect rule but without seeing that space the only other.
Alternative is for players then to create their own criteria for how they were determine the ball is out you know well and and I'll tell you what I've I've studied this thing for three years and some players will they adhere to the overlap Theory well at least 45 percent of the ball has to overlap the line okay well what are you coming up with 45.
That's not written anywhere well it's just you know that's what makes sense to me because I I can see that I can judge where the contact point is and so my contention is if you're guessing where that contact point is then you're not certain that the ball is out and you have to be certain if you're going to give the benefit of the doubt.
To the to the opponent so so my takeaway is in Devil's pickleball make sure you help your partner out exactly yeah exactly right yeah help your partner out yep John so that's uh that's you know that's that's probably the rule that um.
I still get questioned the most but you would not believe the number of questions I got before that rule was changed to require that space now that doesn't mean the referee has the same Criterion because the the referee and the line judges if we have them have a different Criterion they can actually make that.
Judgment based on where they think the ball lands but as players nope you got to see the space so referees and line judges have a different line calling criteria and than do players and that is in the rule book by the way the differences between the the two different composits in rule 6D.
Interesting well Mark thank you so much for coming on this has been such an interesting conversation I'm glad we got to get into the Nitty Gritty on the referees and the rules uh so thank you for all you do for USA pickleball all you do to advance the game if anybody is interested in.
Becoming a referee or has questions on the rules please head over to USA pickleball.org you can find Mark there you can find the rule revision process that he's talking about look up all the comments on this year's rule proposals and get some more information and I think as John would say make sure you smash that like button and follow us.
Here at Pickler the podcast head over to pickler.com and sign up for our free pickleball newsletter and John you know would you like to take us out yep so Mark if you've watched it we always cheers the camera so you've got a cup around you if not fist bumps are acceptable too yeah it's okay if you fist bump the uh yeah surprise.
Thanks for joining us uh Pickler very good thanks Mark my pleasure
Some of the most commonly asked questions in the sport of pickleball focus on the rules of the game. Get an inside look at the rules of pickleball – including the rules revision process and some new and important rules changes for 2023 – as well as what it is like to be a pickleball referee with USA Pickleball Managing Director of Officiating, Mark Peifer. Learn a lot (like we did!) in this latest episode of Pickler The Podcast.
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00:15 – Welcome USA Pickleball Managing Director of Officiating, Mark Peifer!
6:30 – Pickleball Referees Around the World
10:00 – Why You Should Become a Pickleball Referee
12:40 – Referees Talk About Pro Player Tendencies
13:50 – The Best Moment for a Referee
17:00 – Solution to Line Call Issues on the Pickleball Court
25:45 – Rule Change Process & Transparency
32:20 – How the Rule Committee Thinks About Rule Changes
34:30 – What Are the Hot Rule Changes for 2023? (Think Spin Serve!)
50:00 – Spectators Influence on the Rules & Social Media Chatter
51:45 – John “The People’s Champ” Davison’s Suggestions & the Future of Pickleball with Gambling, Drug Testing & Paddle Testing
59:00 – How to Position the Sport for the Olympics
1:05:00 – Mark’s Important Pickleball Rule Change – Rule 67