Pickleball is an interesting sport that combines the elements of tennis and badminton. The game becomes even more enjoyable if you know all its playing rules. One of the most important aspects of pickleball is the game’s serve or starting point. And there is another term related to the service, known as a “let,” which can sometimes confuse the players.
A term that defines a pickleball serve in which the ball touches the net is called a let serve. This used to be an exceptional rule that allowed the server to serve again without losing any points. However, this rule has now been removed from the pickleball rule book.
According to the new rules of pickleball, even if the ball touches the net but still lands in the right service court, the game continues and is termed ‘good serve’ instead of a let serve. On the other hand, if the ball touches the net and does not land on the right court, the serving team will not be given another chance to serve.
So, if a let occurs, the player must know how to prepare himself for the next move. If it’s a fault, neither of the teams gains any points. But if it’s not a fault, the game must continue, and the player must be ready to hit the ball again.
Let’s find out more about this important pickleball rule to clear some of the confusion regarding how the game has to continue. We will also look at the new rule related to service let that took effect in 2021.
Service Faults in Pickleball
In pickleball, a fault occurs when a player violates a rule. If the fault is by the receiving team, it results in a point for the serving team. And if the fault is by the serving team, they lose their chance to serve.
For a service to qualify as a legal serve, the ball has to land beyond the kitchen and within the receiving court, and the player must be standing at the opposite side of the court behind the baseline.
Moreover, the serving player must serve underhand by holding the paddle at his waist. This means the ball must come in contact with the paddle at this position. The ball must land beyond the non-volley zone or the kitchen for the shot to qualify as a good serve.
Read more about the kitchen here: What is the Kitchen in Pickleball?
If these rules are not fulfilled, it results in a fault, and the receiving team wins a point. Moreover, the server loses its turn to serve and win any points.
If the above rules are fulfilled, and the player hits the ball, the shot results in a let serve if the ball hits the net. The let may or may not allow the game to continue depending on where the ball lands after it hits the net. If it lands in the receiving court and all the other rules are met, a let serve will not result in a fault.
Read more on the rules here: What Are the 5 Rules of Pickleball?
According to the old rules, the serving team would be given a chance to serve again if the ball landed elsewhere after hitting the net. The surprising part is there was no maximum number of let serves allowed in pickleball. So, if a player continues to serve in this manner, he would keep getting additional chances to serve again until he makes a good serve or commits a fault.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Let Serve
In pickleball, the server is allowed to serve only once. However, there used to be an exception to this rule in which the server would get another chance to serve when his ball accidentally hit the net. And more interestingly, the serving team would not lose a point even if it was an illegal serve!
The let serve was used to give both players an equal chance to win the point and prevented players from taking advantage of their opponent’s mistake. It could also be used to allow both teams to practice their serves without having to worry about losing points. The let serve was an important part of pickleball that all players should understand.
Also read: Is it Better to Serve First in Pickleball?
However, the downside of this rule is that it can also slow down a game, especially if the players have not yet mastered their serve. This can be frustrating for other players who are waiting on the receiving end to score a point.
Because of these reasons, the rule of a service let has been completely removed from the pickleball rule book. Now the serving team loses their turn to serve when it results in a let, and the ball does not reach the opposite part of the court.
Why Was it Called a Let Serve?
A let serve in pickleball was simply called a “let” because it was a way to tell the other team, “let’s do it again.” However, don’t forget that the new pickleball rule related to a let serve dictates that the game must go on if the ball clears the kitchen and lands in the proper service court after hitting the net.
The ball can hit any part of the net, whether it’s the tape, the cord, the strap, or the band. In competitive play, when there is a referee to control the game proceedings, the referee has the right to overturn a service let. If that’s the case, the player who called the let would have committed a fault.
According to the new rule, the game continues if a let serve ends up beyond the non-volley zone. However, if it lands elsewhere after hitting the net, the serving team will lose their serve and not get another chance to serve.
The rule can confuse some people because previously, the serving team would get unlimited chances to serve again if the ball hit the net. But now, from 2021 onwards, there is no service let any more.