Pickleball Head Referee Don Stanley tips about OUT BALLS

Pickleball Head Referee Don Stanley tips about OUT BALLS

Pickleball Head Referee Don Stanley tips about OUT BALLS

The Definitive Guide to OUT BALLS – Straight from Head Referee Don Stanley

It looks like Out balls have reared its ugly head again. Just today, I saw a post on Facebook about Out balls. Had a couple of images on it. There were 355 comments all over the place. I also saw a post last week. The illustration on it looked like the old USAPA rule book illustration modified. There seems to be a lot of conversation out there about apples. So I figured I would ask our expert Don Stanley certified referee to help us out with apples, and that’s what we do in this video. Let’s get into it.

In my experience playing pickleball, you’re in one of those entertaining games. And it’s 8-7-2. And then there’s a disagreed call. One team thinks the ball was out, and the other team says the ball was in. Now you have just a great game that turns into a sour conversation. And so I think it’s helpful for us to talk a little bit about, you know, what represents an out ball, who makes those calls, and then what process is in place to maybe help alleviate that situation and maybe some guidelines we can give folks you know to help them try and navigate those waters.

That’s a great place to start. Let’s look at what really makes a ball in or out. So we have w the line which is part of the court, and we have that out of bounds area. Whatever part of that ball physically touches the ground, that’s what determines if it’s in or out. And here’s an important point for a ball to be out. 100 percent of that ball has to be touching the out-of-bounds area. If one percent of that ball is touching the line, technically, that ball touched the line, which it did physically, which makes the ball in. It’s the ball’s actual physical contact with the ground and where it happens to touch in on the line or out of bounds that determines that.

The issue now is how do we decide, “OK, that ball that I’m looking down on is in or out?” My understanding of the guiding principle of that decision is me making that decision whether I can see any out-of-bounds court between the line and the ball from my vantage point. That’s really the only way to make the call with certainty that that ball is out.

If I’m looking to my right and see the court line, if I see the line, and then I see a little bit of out-of-bounds gap area, and then I see the ball bounce, I can with complete faith and complete sincerity make a true honest yes. That ball was out because, in my mind, I saw a gap.

The way I think about that as well as it’s the benefit of the doubt. If I’m not 100 percent sure, then the ball is in. The only way to call it out is if I see paint between the line and the ball.

At the end of the day, when not sure, the ball is in. If you call it out, but there is room in your mind that it could be different and your opponents go nuts, then maybe let them make the call. If you are sure about the call, stick with it. But if not 100%, go with the flow. That will keep the game relaxed and fun for all.

Good luck out there.

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  1. Volunteer Balloon Decor on November 15, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    Important stuff starts at 4:30… just sayin! 🙂

  2. jim sorrentino on November 15, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Too wordy (24.5 minutes) for the topic of line calls and didn’t include some of the helpful info in the 2021 rules book. The key message is the receiving player closest to the ball must see space between the ball and the white line. No space=out ball. Conflict of opinion between receiving team members=in ball.

  3. Elizabeth Heyenga on November 15, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you for this, I like to learn what I can on rules like this that come up a lot

  4. Christopher Klapheke on November 15, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    My personal rule of thumb is that if less than half of the ball is on the line – more than half the ball is "out", then the ball is out (technically, that should be less than 45%, but that is obviously impossible to judge real time). In general, I let close calls go to the other team. I ask for other opinions and am glad to change a call. A sick kid is important; a pickleball line call is not. Thanks

  5. Jaleb Jaba on November 15, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    If the ball is played ,can you call it out seconds later? Thanks

  6. Kevin Bacon on November 15, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    I’m 6’3" +- 245lbs.
    But seriously, because "replay/ do- over" is an option, it’s really simple in REC. Play..
    It’s, "in, out, or replay".
    No reason to argue/delay playing. As long as replay is an option, use it..

  7. Mike Rocheleau on November 15, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    having been a tournament tennis player is is a lot easier to call a tennis ball than a pickle ball. Since it is a little smaller and it compresses it is easier to see under.

  8. D Van Camp on November 15, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    Unfortunately, there are some recreational players who ALWAYS think their ball was in…it can make for some uncomfortable conversations and follow-on play! I keep hoping those players will begin to lighten up and begin accepting the receiving team’s judgement just to keep the game fun!

  9. jazzsnare on November 15, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    Doesn’t it depend on viewer’s angle, whether they see a space between ball and line? If somewhat behind the ball, might it be out and yet one would not see a gap, since it’s blocked by the ball itself? On another tack: I had an argument today with a guy. He was in movement on the court near the line. I had hit the ball straight down the line, and was stopped, looking down the line at the ball. It was so inside the line that it did not even touch the line. I completely 100% saw it. He argued that it was outside the line and he had a better view since he was closer. I argued that sometimes being closer is still not as good as having the view down the line. I know it’s the receiver’s right, but when you see something completely inside the line, and you know this guy is moving and swinging and seeing what he wants to see, it’s hard to give it up. I mean, I had an unmistakable view right down the line.

  10. jonas steinberg on November 15, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    I play socially everyday and there are times when we are just in doubt and neither side is sure. We just replay the point and everyone is happy.

  11. Fleedop Mogu on November 15, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Nice. Very helpful.
    How about a "skipping" ball? A ball with backspin hitting the baseline will "slide" on the ground. How do we tactfully inform the receiving team that it’s where the ball hits the surface and not where it lifts off the surface?

  12. Roderick Foley on November 15, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    It seems to me that a ball on the extreme right sideline can’t be called in or out by a player on the left side line.

  13. Curt Zimmerman on November 15, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    Playing yesterday. Guy tried to hit an ATP. Ball hit the post and caught the base line. He took the point. Question is since it hit the post is it out?

  14. Daniel Guadarrama on November 15, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    You mentioned you call the balls out different when in a tournament- do you have a link to that video?

  15. Michael Gauthier on November 15, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for posting this. On the photo where you listed the "best positions to make the call", you should have added #5 – the referee. If you are trying to call the ball from the SAME side of the line that the ball is hitting, you are at an IMPOSSIBLE angle to make a close call. A referee (or player) should NEVER try to call that ball. So this would include the RECEIVER of a serve (the receiver’s partner should be making those calls).

  16. jay o on November 15, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    Good video but you could have gotten through the same material in 10-15 minutes, rather than 24.

  17. Jim Zimmerman on November 15, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    If you don’t really see it out then it is in. Done

  18. Kevin Bacon on November 15, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Because you can’t possibly see something the size of a dime on the court. ( remember avg. age of Pickleball players) No matter how defined or illustrated, in real time every "questionable" ball would shut down the game.
    There needs to be an element of possibility that has a reasonable/fair solution and replay is fair.
    Tournament play is another animal as the stakes are obviously higher…

  19. Bob Jensen on November 15, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    Everyone should watch this video. Great job on the video Tony.

  20. Curt Zimmerman on November 15, 2021 at 9:52 pm


  21. Susan Quock on November 15, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    How about asking your partner?

  22. SailCamaraderie on November 15, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    While chock full of good information the CURRENT controversy over the RULE on whether a ball is in or out was once again MUDDLED by stating the actual rule in which OUT is determined by point of Contact with the court….and then effectively negating that point with interpretive guidance.that will produce fewer receiver called out balls than are actually out by rule. Let’s have a correct diagram back in the 2021 rule book.

  23. In2Pickle on November 15, 2021 at 10:06 pm

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  24. Josh Goodwin on November 15, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    If none of the players are sure about a call why wouldn’t it be a replay?

  25. ken yelle on November 15, 2021 at 10:12 pm

    In recreating matches if nobody knows if it’s in or out. We just do a do- over

  26. Curt Zimmerman on November 15, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    Sorry. Played yesterday. Guy tried to hit an ATP. The ball hit the post, bounced off and caught the base. He took the point. Question is. If it hit the post was it out?

  27. Peter Jordan on November 15, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    Problem is that the ball is moving very quickly that it is difficult to determine whether the ball is in or out many times.

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