Pickleball Line Counts (as they are called) in the end should all be about what you see, not what you think you see or what you want to see. Calling the fall of a pickleball relies on the ethics of honest play. Basically, that means no cheating and call it as you see it.
First we need to know what is in play and what is out of play. Excluding the kitchen lines either side of the net, a part of the ball must touch the line upon bouncing to be consider in. This can be a tad complicated to call because when a pickleball sits on a surface, only a very small surface area actually touches.
It means that you can place a pickleball very close to a court line so that when looking from the top it appears to be on the line, however the bit that touches the surface is not in fact touching the court line.
This can be amplified erroneously the further you are away from the bounce contact of the ball and the more angled your line of sight is.
So what do we do in this situation? Who makes what call and what should the call be if in doubt.
What the Official rules say about line calls
SECTION 6 – LINE CALL RULES – The basic elements
6.D. Is about code of ethics. Yes we know when a ball is in or when it is out. In a game, it is the player or players on which side the ball lands who are responsible for line-calling of any play. A player must call the ball as they see it or in fact if they don’t see it.
Section 6.D.4. states that all participants should strive for accuracy in making line calls.
6.D.5. No player should question an opponent’s call unless asked. A player should ask the opponent’s opinion if the opponent was in a better position to see the call. An opponent’s opinion, if requested, however shall be accepted. It is recognized (in theory) that a player looking down the line is more likely to be accurate than one looking across the line.
However – if you as that player did not definitely see the line ball then in fair play the principle is that all questionable calls must be resolved in favor of the opponent.
6.D.2. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made.
It is stated that spectators should not be consulted on any line calls as they may be prejudiced, unqualified, or not in position to see the call.
And when it comes to a “Let Call”
Let calls must be made “instantly”, otherwise the ball is presumed good and still in play. “Instantly” is defined as calling “let” or “out” prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before it has gone out of play.
This all means that any ball that lands on your side of the court and cannot definitely be called “out” is presumed to be “in.” You cannot call a “let” to replay that ball because you did not see it.
And while the opponent’s opinion can be requested, if they say the ball was “in” it is on. Similarly, if they say they didn’t see it, then the ball must also be declared “in” because of rule 6.D.2. the opponent gets the benefit of the doubt.
6.D.10. In doubles play, if one player calls the ball “out” and the partner calls it “in,” then doubt exists, and the ball must be declared “in”.
It’s also understandable that line calls should be promptly signaled by hand or voice, regardless of how obvious they may seem.
As soon as an out call is made after the ball has hit the playing surface, it shall be considered a definitive line call and play shall STOP.
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