New Rules added for 2022: NO Chainsaw serves, NO Swearing!!!

It’s a new year, and that means new pickleball rules. Every January, USA Pickleball issues an updated rulebook. If you cuss during your games, wear headphones, carry more than one ball, or have been using a chainsaw serve, get ready to adjust your play this year. Here are some key things to know about how the game is changing in 2022.

No headphones or earbuds during competition play

These devices have been banned because they could allow players to receive coaching during the match. Another reason for the rule? Player safety — earbuds can be dropped on the court and cause an injury hazard. Also, USA Pickleball says such devices can prevent players from hearing calls or the score, thereby causing potential delays to explain or repeat calls that were not heard. Note: Hearing aids are still allowed.

Spinning the ball on a serve

In 2021, many players experimented with the so-called “chainsaw” serve. In this move, the server rolls the ball against the paddle, sometimes even including the grip, as the ball is being tossed. Then the player hits the fast-spinning ball to finish the serve. The intense spin on the ball can make it kick left, right, up or down.

In 2022, this move has been banned. But you can still put “finger spin” on a serve. The new rules say server can use only one hand to release the ball to perform the serve. If the ball is visibly spun by the server during the release, the part(s) of the hand contacting the ball must be bare (no gloves, band-aids, etc.).

Moreover, the receiver (and referee, if there is one) must be able to see the server’s release of the ball. 

Example: A server is wearing a glove on her hand that releases the ball, but she has removed the glove material allowing the thumb and first two fingers (that touch the ball) to be exposed and add spin to the ball. The referee lets this glove be used.

Extra balls

In officiated matches, you’re not allowed to carry an extra ball on the court. However, in social play, USA Pickleball says you may carry a spare ball. However, the balls are not to be visible to your opponent during play. And if one of your extra balls falls on the playing surface during play, that’s considered a fault.

Example: A player is carrying an extra ball in his pocket. During a rally, the ball falls out of his pocket but lands out of bounds. The opponents claim a distraction fault, but the player who dropped the ball contends that because the ball landed out of bounds and not on the actual court, it is not a fault. The player who dropped the ball is wrong; the opponents are correct that a distraction fault has occurred.

Multiple bounces before a serve

USA Pickleball is clarifying this year that on a serve, there is no restriction how many times the ball can bounce nor where it can bounce on the playing surface before the server hits it. 

The intent of this rule is to let the ball bounce as many times as the server chooses before he strikes the ball to perform the serve, as long as the serve is made within 10 seconds after the score is called. The rule also clarifies that the ball may bounce anywhere on the playing surface before it is hit to perform the serve.


There are a number of new rules about how and when referees can issue warnings for foul language.  

Previously, a referee was allowed to issue one “global warning” per match for use of profanity. When the warning was issued, it was made generally to all players — not just the potty mouths. Now, a referee may give each team a single verbal warning per match. Refs can also give technical warnings and fouls for bad language, which can cost you a point. Refs are not supposed to stop play to issue warnings or fouls, but they are to mete them out once a rally has ended. Check out these examples:

  • Team A receives a verbal warning for uttering an expletive.  Later in the match, a player on Team B   says the same word. The referee may give a verbal warning to Team B regardless of the prior verbal warning issued to Team A.
  • The referee calls a non-volley zone fault on a player who enters the kitchen when he was not permitted to. After the rally is over, the faulted player walks by the referee and without looking directly at the referee says, “That was a bull—- call.”  The referee may issue a verbal warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • Team A gets a verbal warning for a specific profanity. A player on Team B later says the same word, but more loudly. The referee gives a technical warning to Team B. Team B asks why they did not receive a verbal warning the same as Team A. The referee may explain that their volume was greater and verbal and technical warnings are based on referee discretion.
  • A player utters a profanity, and the referee issues a technical warning. The player protests and says the ref should have issued a verbal warning first. The referee reminds the player that there is no requirement that a verbal warning always be issued before a technical warning or technical foul.
  • While players are warming up before the referee’s pre-match briefing, one player loudly calls an opponent an “[expletive] cheater.” The referee issues a technical foul for extreme profanity and issues a point to the opponents before the match has started. 

Easy way to avoid all these warnings and fouls? Don’t swear during games!  If you are looking for ways to re-train your mouth, consider during drills or practice play deducting points for each bon mot uttered. Or, keep a “swear jar” and a roll of coins on the sidelines; deposit a fee for each infraction and your opponent keeps the money. Finally, if you have an Apple Watch or similar device, you can keep track of how many bad words were blurted out during the game by keeping a running tally with Siri. 

To see the full list of new pickleball rules, visit For a complete set of rules, visit