USA Pickleball Rule Changes (January 2023)

the new USA pickleball rule changes for 2023. A ref stands in front of a pickleball court with a rulebook

It’s a brand new year, and with it comes an exciting set of changes to the rules of pickleball.

As any committed or hobbyist pickleball player knows, January is the time of year for a fresh start – and this time around, that means adjusting your play to account for some exciting new rules from USA Pickleball.

These rules take effect starting on January 1st, 2023.

Get ready to have your mind boggled by new bans on spin serves, a note on inappropriate clothing, and some added game stoppages. These updates will make for one heck of a refreshing game.

So what are we up against?

Let’s dive into the new pickleball rule changes for 2023 starting with the big two:

Pickleball Rule Change #1: Spin serves are not allowed

The time has come: spin serves are no longer legal in pickleball starting in 2023.

If your serve tends to spin a little more than it should, you might need to rethink your strategy as “manipulating the ball to add spin during the release of the ball is not allowed,” according to the updated USA Pickleball Official Rulebook.

This new rule applies to both drop serves and volley serves.

In some ways, I’m relieved—trying to return a pickleball spin serve can be really tricky.

Plus, I never really learned how to spin serve in pickleball, so this rule doesn’t bother me too much.

A woman hits a spin serve in pickleball. Spin serves are no longer allowed in pickleball in 2023.
According to the new USA Pickleball rules, spin serves are no longer allowed in pickleball in 2023.

Pickleball Rule Change #2: You Can’t Wear Certain Clothing

Your neon shirt might be a no-no with the new ‘inappropriate apparel’ rule in pickleball.

The rule states that you cannot wear a color of clothing that is too similar to the color of the ball.

As most tournament pickleballs are neon green or yellow, it’s safe to assume you should stay away from pickleball outfits in these colors.

If the ref or tournament director thinks you look suspiciously similar to the ball, you can be forced to an “apparel change”, according to the rulebook.

But don’t worry—your neon pickleball clothes are perfect (actually, they’re required!) for a game of glow-in-the-dark pickleball.

Two neon pickleball shirts with a 'not allowed' symbol over top of them
Under the new USA Pickleball rules, you are not allowed to wear colors that are too similar to the tournament pickleball.

There are four more significant updates you should know about in the 2023 updated USA Pickleball Rulebook:

3. If the referee believes a player has failed to perform any serve requirements, he/she can stop the play and ask for a re-serve. This is to encourage players to clearly and thoroughly follow proper serve protocol.

4. Both players can ask questions about the correct server, receiver or position but only before the serve is hit.

5. If the wrong score is called, the referee or any player may only stop the play before the return of serve to correct the score. You cannot stop the play after the return of serve.

6. Equipment time-outs are now a thing. Players will no longer have to use a regular time-out for equipment adjustments. Yay!

a pickleball referee talks to pickleball players about a call he made

And that’s a wrap on the new USA pickleball rule changes for 2023!

Be sure to brush up on these before your next big tournament—especially the big two: no more spin serves and no more matching with the neon tournament balls.

You can view the full PDF of USA Pickleball rules (2023) here.

What do you think about these new changes to the pickleball rules? Let us know in the comments below.

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