Pickleball Line Call Rules

One of the most crucial elements of playing pickleball is making accurate line calls, which determines whether a shot is considered “in” or “out” of the court. Making line calls in pickleball has rules and regulations that you have to follow as a pickleball player. In this blog, we are going to discuss what is a line call in the pickleball game, hand signals to make line calls in pickleball, pickleball line call rules, when and how to make line calls in pickleball, and who makes pickleball line calls.

We are also going to explain the differences between “in” and “out” line calls in pickleball and the steps for resolving disputes occurring during pickleball line calls. Know about line calls in pickleball and it’s rules by reading this blog post in detail.

What Is a Line Call In Pickleball?

In pickleball, a line call refers to a decision made by a player or an official regarding whether a ball has landed within the boundaries of the court or not. Pickleball is played on a rectangular court, similar to a tennis court, and it is divided into different zones by various lines.

When a ball is hit during a pickleball game, players must determine whether the ball has landed in or out of bounds. If a ball lands on or inside the lines, it is considered in play and the rally continues. However, if the ball lands outside the lines, it is called out, and the opposing team or player earns a point.

Line calls can be made by the players or officials, depending on the level of play. In casual games or recreational play, players usually make their own line calls based on their perception of where the ball landed. In more competitive or professional environments, certified referees or line judges may be present to make official line calls.

Pickleball Referee Making A Line Call By Covering His Eyes With Both The Hands

It is important to note that line calls in pickleball rely on the honor system and fair play. Players are expected to make honest and accurate line calls to maintain the integrity of the game. Disputes over line calls can sometimes occur, but it is generally encouraged to resolve them amicably and with good sportsmanship.

Rules Regarding Line Calls in Pickleball

In pickleball, line calls refer to the decisions made by players regarding whether a ball is in or out of bounds. Here are the general rules and guidelines regarding line calls in pickleball:

Players Are Responsible For Making Their Own Line Calls: In pickleball, players are responsible for making their own line calls using their best judgment. This means that each player should make line calls based on what they see, regardless of their personal opinion on whether the ball landed inside or outside the court’s boundaries.

Call The Ball On Your Side Of The Court: Each player is responsible for making line calls for the balls that land on their side of the court. When the ball lands directly on or extremely close to the line, it is up to the player to determine and declare the call for that specific line.

Ask For Help If Unsure: If a player is unsure about a line call or if there is a disagreement between players, they can ask their opponent for input. The opponents can provide their viewpoint or advantageous position and assist in making a fair decision.

Give Your Opponent The Benefit Of The Doubt: To promote fairness, it is usually suggested to show trust in your opponent when unsure about a line call. If you’re unsure about the exact position of the ball, give the point to your opponent rather than getting into a potential argument. By doing this, you promote fair play and avoid getting into heated discussions during the game.

Be Respectful And Avoid Arguments: Line calls can sometimes lead to disagreements or disputes between players. It is important to maintain good sportsmanship, be respectful, and avoid engaging in prolonged arguments or heated discussions. Remember that pickleball is a friendly and social game.

Referees Or Third-Party Calls: In casual or recreational pickleball games, line calls are typically made by the players themselves. However, in more formal or competitive settings, there may be referees or designated officials who make the line calls. In such cases, players should abide by the decisions made by the referees.

It is important to note that the rules and guidelines for line calls can vary depending on factors like the level of play, the organization or league, and specific tournament rules. To ensure you understand the rules applicable to the event you’re participating in, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and guidelines of that particular event.

Pickleball Line Call Rules

Who Makes the Line Calls in Pickleball?

In pickleball, line calls are typically made by the players themselves. It is a common practice for players to make their own line calls based on their own judgment and perception of where the ball landed. Since pickleball is often played in a more casual and recreational setting, there is generally no official line judge or referee present to make the calls.

The players are expected to adhere to the principles of sportsmanship and honesty when making line calls. If there is a disagreement or dispute over a line call, players can engage in a discussion to resolve the issue. In some cases, players may choose to replay the point if they cannot come to a mutual agreement.

However, in more formal or competitive pickleball matches, especially at higher levels or official tournaments, there may be designated line judges or referees present. These officials are responsible for making line calls and enforcing the rules of the game. Their decisions override those of the players, and they use their own judgment or technology, such as line-calling systems, to make accurate calls.

When To Make Line Calls In Pickleball

In pickleball, line calls should be made immediately after the ball lands. Here’s a more specific breakdown of when to make line calls:

During Your Opponent’s Shot: If you are the receiving team or non-volleying team (behind the baseline), you should make the line call for shots that land near the sidelines or baselines as soon as the ball hits the ground. Your perspective allows you to see the ball’s position clearly.

During Your Shot: If you are the serving team or volleying team (at the non-volley zone), you should make the line call for shots that land near the sidelines or baselines as soon as you hit the ball. Again, your perspective provides the best view of where the ball lands.

Doubles Play: In doubles, the player closest to the ball should make the line call for shots that land near their respective sidelines or baselines. If your partner has a better view or you are unsure, you can consult with them before making the call.

How to Make Line Calls in the Pickleball Game?

Making accurate line calls in pickleball is an essential part of fair play and good sportsmanship. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make line calls in pickleball:

Know The Court Boundaries: Familiarize yourself with the court boundaries in pickleball. The court is divided into several lines, including the baseline, sidelines, and kitchen (non-volley zone) lines. Understand which shots need to land within these boundaries to be considered in.

Position Yourself Correctly: As a player, position yourself in a way that allows you to have the best possible view of the ball’s landing spot. If you’re at the non-volley zone (kitchen), pay close attention to shots that land near the sidelines or baseline. If you’re behind the baseline, focus on shots that land near the sidelines.

Observe The Ball Closely: Keep your eyes on the ball throughout the game. Concentrate on its trajectory, speed, and height as it approaches the ground. By observing the ball closely, you’ll be better equipped to determine whether it lands within the court boundaries.

Make An Immediate Decision: Once the ball lands, make a quick and immediate decision about whether it is in or out. Trust your instincts and rely on what you saw or heard. Avoid hesitating or delaying the line call, as it can lead to confusion and disrupt the game’s flow.

Communicate Your Decision Clearly: Use clear and assertive language to communicate your line call. If the ball is in, say “in” loudly enough for your opponent to hear. If the ball is out, say “out” with conviction. It is important to make your decision known to your opponent to ensure transparency and avoid disputes.

Be Fair And Unbiased: Maintain a high level of integrity when making line calls. Be honest and fair, regardless of whether the call benefits you or your opponent. The goal is to uphold the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship.

Seek Assistance If Necessary: In some situations, line calls can be challenging to determine, especially if the ball lands close to the lines or if there are obstructions. If you’re uncertain about a call or if there is a disagreement with your opponent, you can ask for their perspective or request assistance from a neutral third party, such as a referee or another player nearby.

Resolve Disputes Respectfully: If there is a disagreement or dispute over a line call, it is important to handle the situation respectfully. Engage in a polite discussion with your opponent to clarify any misunderstandings. If necessary, you can consult a referee or official to make a final decision.

Remember, making accurate line calls contributes to the integrity and enjoyment of the game. By following these steps and demonstrating good sportsmanship, you’ll help create a positive playing environment for everyone involved in pickleball.

Hand Signals for Pickleball Line Calls

In pickleball, hand signals are commonly used to indicate line calls, ensuring fair play and clear communication between players. Here are the hand signals for pickleball line calls:

Hand Signals For The “Out” Ball:

To indicate that a ball is out of bounds or has missed the line, the following hand signal is typically used:

  • Extend one arm straight out from the body horizontally.
  • Make a fist with the extended hand.
  • Move the fist away from the body in a sweeping motion, indicating that the ball is out.

Hand Signal For The “In” Ball:

When a ball lands within the boundaries and is considered in play, the hand signal for an “In” ball involves the following actions:

  • Keep both arms positioned down and close to the body.
  • Use one index finger to point downward, indicating that the ball has landed in. This gesture signifies that the ball is deemed to be playable within the court boundaries.
Hand Signal For In As A Pickleball Line Call

Hand Signal For The Blocked/Blinded Balls: 

In pickleball, if a player or referee covers their eyes with their hands, it signifies that they cannot see the ball clearly. This action indicates that they may not have a clear view of whether the ball was in or out of bounds.

In vs. Out Line Call In Pickleball

“In” Line Call “Out” Line Call
DefinitionRefers to a shot or ball that lands within the boundary lines of the court.Refers to a shot or ball that lands outside the boundary lines of the court.
ResultPoint awarded to the player/team that hit the shot.Point awarded to the opposing player/team.
SignalsThe player may signal “in” by pointing to the ground within the court or by keeping both arms positioned down and close to the body.The player may signal “out” by making a fist with an extended hand or by moving the fist away from the body in a sweeping motion.
ResponsibilityThe player who hit the shot is responsible for making the line call.In pickleball, if there is a disagreement regarding a line call made by the player who hit the shot, the opposing player has the right to question it. In such cases, players can either request a referee or refer to the rules specific to their game format to resolve the dispute.
ImportanceAccurate line calls are crucial to maintaining fair play and determining the outcome of a point.It is essential to make accurate line calls to ensure fair play and maintain the integrity of the game. Incorrect line calls can lead to disputes and affect the overall experience.

How to Resolve Disputes That May Occur Due to Line Calls?

Resolving disputes that may occur due to line calls in pickleball can be done by following these steps:

Open Communication: The first step is to maintain open and respectful communication between the players involved in the dispute. Calmly discuss the situation and share perspectives without getting overly emotional or aggressive.

Player Discussion: The players should attempt to resolve the disagreement amongst themselves. They can discuss the line call, present their viewpoints, and try to reach a mutual understanding. It is important to listen to each other and consider the different perspectives on the play.

Third-Party Opinion: If the players cannot resolve this through discussion, they can involve a neutral third party. This could be a referee, if available, or another impartial player who can provide an objective viewpoint on the line call in question.

Consulting The Rules: Players can refer to the rules specific to their game format to gain clarity on line calls and dispute resolution procedures. The rules can provide guidance and establish a fair process for resolving the dispute.

Accepting The Decision: Once a resolution has been reached, it is important for both players to accept the decision made by the third party or referee. Respecting the outcome is crucial for maintaining sportsmanship and the spirit of fair play.

Learning Opportunity: Disputes over line calls can serve as learning opportunities for players. It allows them to gain a better understanding of the rules, improve their judgment, and enhance their sportsmanship skills for future matches.


Can I Challenge An Opponent’s Line Call In Pickleball?

In most cases, line calls made by players are considered final and cannot be challenged. However, the rules may vary depending on the level of play or specific tournament regulations.

What Happens If There Is A Disagreement Between Partners Regarding A Line Call?

Partners should work together to resolve any disagreements regarding line calls through open communication and mutual understanding. It is crucial to reach a consensus to ensure fair play and a positive playing environment.

Can I Ask For A Referee Or Third-Party Intervention If There Is A Dispute Over A Line Call?

Yes, in competitive or professional pickleball matches, referees or third-party officials may be available to make line calls and resolve disputes. Players should adhere to their decisions and respect their authority.

What Should I Do If My Opponent Consistently Makes Incorrect Line Calls?

If you suspect that your opponent is consistently making incorrect line calls, it is essential to maintain sportsmanship and approach the situation respectfully. You can politely discuss the calls with them, request clarification, or involve a referee if available.


It is important to make accurate line calls in pickleball for ensuring fair play and maintaining the integrity of the sport. If you follow the pickleball line call rules mentioned in this blog, you will be able to make accurate line calls in pickleball. You must know when and how you have to make line calls in pickleball. You can also use hand signals for making pickleball line calls.

If any disputes occur while making line calls in pickleball, it is recommended to resolve them according to the tips mentioned in this blog. After writing this blog post, we hope you will follow the pickleball line call rules and be able to make accurate line calls in pickleball.

Leave a Comment