During my play in a recent USAPA sanctioned tournament, I was reminded of my past lessons learned and wanted to share with you, so IF YOU happen to run into the same scenarios then you will be prepared and better educated to keep the game on track.
During a heated doubles rally the opponent was hitting a backhand volley and the point of contact of the ball was either her paddle/hand OR her arm/shoulder… This player was five feet away from the ref and immediately the ref called Fault (a fault is any action that stops play because of a rule violation) causing Alex and me to stop play. The ref stated the ball hit her upper arm / shoulder. Immediately the opponent voiced strong opposition and had a 10+ minute heated debate with the ref on how she thought the ref saw it wrong.
- I saw the play and point of contact and believe yes the ball hit her arm and the ref was correct – yet I did not say anything (my mistake), assuming it would quickly get figured out on it’s own.
Lesson learned: Speak up and add your opinion to the discussion. Don’t assume that it will end correctly and/or quickly.
During the heated debate the opponent claimed numerous times that the play was captured on a video camera and it will show that the ref is wrong.
- Rule # 14.F. Referee’s Officiating Duties. [_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][_builder_row][_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Referee is responsible for all decisions related to procedural and judgment calls during the match… The referee’s call will stand… Spectators are not part of the game and, therefore, cannot be consulted on calls.]
Lesson learned: that players looking for evidence of a particular shot or motion from a video camera have no basis to ask for that review – no need to keep discussing this issue wasting more time.
All momentum of the game had been lost and it is decided that the point will be played over. A new ref takes over (My opponent asked for a new ref) and play continues to the end of the match.
- Rule # 14.L. Removal of a Referee or Line Judge. [A referee or line judge may be removed when both teams agree to the removal or at the discretion of the Tournament Director…]
Lesson learned: all players need to mutually agree on replacing the ref – and Alex and me were not asked. If all players do not agree, the current ref stays.
As tournament players we tacitly agree to abide by the ref’s calls, who are doing the best they can do.
The interesting thing is these lessons learned are all scenarios I have experienced before and I know these rules, yet in the heat of competition, fatigue, annoyance, crowd participation, etc, things happen… I just want to play pickleball, not witness a player’s personality.
Guess what? The score at the time of the outburst was 13 -13… And yes play was to 15.
I want to keep your lessons learned short, so you can remember the main points that may help YOU in time of heated competition.
For those of you that think this scenario through further, yes there could have been a:
Technical Foul (14.M) – The referee is empowered to add one point to a player’s score or a team’s score when the opponent violates one of the rules calling for a technical foul or, in the referee’s judgment, the opponent is being overly and deliberately abusive.
Match Forfeiture (14.H.1) – A referee may impose a forfeit when a player refuses to abide by the referee’s decision or engages in unsportsmanlike conduct.
Rules numbers come from the International Federation of Pickleball – The official tournament rulebook that the USAPA uses.
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The featured photo at the top of this post with four players at net is for ILLUSTRATION ONLY. Photo credits: Patrick Kelley and Barb Rix, thank you for the great pickleball photos.