The reality in games involving balls and racquets is that somewhere down the line, a player is bound to get hit by their opponent or even their teammate. In certain sports, it may be encouraged to hit your opponent, but what are the consequences of hitting or “tagging” your opponent in a game of pickleball?
It is not a fault to hit your opponent with the ball in pickleball. Players are only permitted to hit the ball with their paddle or anywhere below the wrist of the hand holding the paddles. Thus, if a player hits their opponent with the ball on any other area of their body, the hitting player wins the point due to a fault from the opponent.
In recent years, pickleball has become an even faster-paced game than it was previously. With progress in paddle and ball technology, players can hit harder and harder shots, leading to an increased risk of one of the players getting hit by a fast-traveling ball. It does not matter whether a player hits their opponent with or without intent; the consequences are the same.
Can You Hit Your Opponent With The Ball In Pickleball?
In pickleball, the official rule about what happens when a player hits another with a ball is similar to that of other racquet and ball sports.
It is strictly forbidden for a player to hit the ball with any other body part safe for the area below the wrist of the paddle-holding hand. So, if player one hits player two with the ball on their chest, for instance, though it may not seem fair to some people, player two is the one to have committed a fault by failing to make contact with the ball using their paddle.
In pretty much all sports that involve hitting a ball with a racquet, bat, or paddle, a player ends up getting hit. Most of the time, the hitter does not aim at the opponent on purpose, but sometimes they do, as there is something to gain from catching your opponent off guard and putting them in an awkward position when returning.
Is It Fair Play To Hit Your Opponent In Pickleball?
Pickleball is a mold between tennis, badminton, and table tennis. All three of these sports, including pickleball, are presented and widely known as social and friendly games that follow a strict ethical code that demands having proper manners when participating. Consequently, players who disregard the sports etiquette and are abusive can be banned from their respective clubs.
Though hitting your opponent with the ball in pickleball does not violate any codes of ethics, is it right to intentionally target your opponent for the chance to score a point if it means potentially injuring them?
In most instances where a player gets hit by the ball, there is no purposeful intention from the player hitting the ball to hurt or injure their opponent, and players typically apologize right after. However, some players take advantage of the fact that hitting the other player with the ball is a strategic advantage.
In pickleball, it is a common and accepted strategy to aim for your opponent’s feet, putting them in an awkward position to return the shot. However, intentionally aiming for your opponent’s face or chest is not considered a fair play tactic by most as, on a small court with fast-paced shots, players can get hurt if hit by the ball in sensitive areas.
Deal With Pickleball Players Who Hit Others On Purpose
You do not need to look hard enough to find players who consider “tagging” opponents a legitimate strategy for pickleball. It remains somewhat controversial, and although players who target their opponents on purpose have the right to do so, not every player should step onto the court with the fear of knowing that their opponent will be purposefully aiming for their body.
Unfortunately, some players will aim at you and not apologize for it. If you know someone like this, consider not playing with the person again and avoiding them. When asked about it, tell the player the truth; they will hopefully learn to be more considerate.
How To Avoid Getting Hit In Pickleball
If you think you might get hit, there are certain measures you can take to avoid receiving the ball with your face and give you a chance to take the upper hand in the exchange.
Here are several things to remember on the court when things escalate and it looks like a hit is coming.
- Perfect your dinks, drop-shots, and third-shot drops to negate and prevent attacks from the other side of the court.
- Avoid popping up the ball.
- Keep your serves and your returns deep.
- When defending, keep your paddle up.
- When the ball is quite high in the air and your opponents are about to smash it, soften your grip while keeping a light stance and focus on catching the ball with your paddle to reset the rally.
- In worst-case scenarios where it is certain that your opponent is about to close out the rally with a big smash, turn away to avoid a potential hit to sensitive areas.
- Get yourself some protective eyewear.
Misunderstood Rules In Pickleball
Some beginners believe that hitting your opponent in pickleball is illegal, even though it is. There are several other rules that players just starting with pickleball should learn about to avoid confusion.
Some rules are not straightforward, while others can be completely unknown to players.
- Missed swings are legal. The point is not over when a player swings and misses the ball with the paddle. The ball is only dead when it bounces twice, or the player(s) commits a fault. Players can keep the ball alive in doubles after their partner swings and misses.
- Double hits are sometimes legal. In doubles, the double hit must be either (1) a single-direction stroke, (2) unintentional, (3) continuous, and (4) by only one player. In other circumstances, a double hit is a fault.
- Around the post, shots are legal. The pickleball is not required to travel over the net to land on the other side of the pickleball court. Thus, it is legal for a player to hit a shot that travels under the net height but around the net post.
- Switching hands and two-handed shots is legal. Players may switch paddles between their hands at any point. They are also allowed to take shots with two hands on their paddle.
Though hitting your opponent in pickleball is legal and will likely win you the point, most players consider it unfair and even nasty to intentionally target your opponent when smashing the ball.
Some other rules in pickleball can be misunderstood, especially by beginners. New players of the game should take the time to review the game rules before playing.