Here is a summary of the most important changes in the 2022 USA Pickleball Rulebook, approved by USA Pickleball.
In 2022, a player can spin the ball before striking it on the serve, but only the non-paddle hand can contact the ball before the ball is hit. This eliminates the "COVID" serve and the "Chain Saw" serve.
The Drop Serve
The drop serve remains a permitted option. No changes were made to the drop serve other than to remove its Provisional status.
Wrong Score Called
The rules concerning what happens if the wrong score is called by a player or a referee have changed. After a wrong score has been called, a player can stop play to ask for a correction, BEFORE the ball is served. If it has been served, THE RALLY IS TO BE PLAYED OUT and the score correction (if any) is made after the rally ends.
A Dropped Ball
In non-officiated matches, it is not uncommon for a player to carry an extra ball. If an extra ball is carried, it must not be visible to the opponent. If, however, a player accidentally drops an extra ball during a rally, it will result in a fault.
Medical Time-Outs Called by a Referee
If a referee, in the interest of player safety, determines that either medical personnel or the Tournament Director should be consulted for a player health issue, that time-out is not chargeable to the player as a medical time-out. The player retains the right to call a medical time-out later in the match, if needed.
A referee may now issue verbal warnings for more than just profanity. Any situation that could result in a Technical Warning may instead be addressed by the referee as a verbal warning. There is still only one verbal warning per team per match, no matter what the subject is. For example, if a verbal warning is issued for profanity and then later in the match a player from that team exhibits unsportsmanlike conduct, a second verbal warning is not available for that team.
Calling the Score After a 15-Second Warning
Instead of a referee calling the score immediately after the 15-second warning expires, the referee will call the score after the players are ready, or should be ready.
When a Technical Warning or Foul Can be Called
Referees are empowered to issue "Technicals" for various reasons, but it has been unclear exactly when a Technical should be announced. The 2022 rules now make it clear that a referee should not stop a rally to call a Technical on an offending team. Any Technical Warnings or Fouls will be assessed after the rally ends.
While some sports allow coaching during active play, pickleball does not. Since it is possible that a player could receive coaching via earbuds, beginning in 2022, earbuds will not be permitted with the exception of hearing aids.
Tournament Score for a Retirement
The score to be recorded for a player or team electing to "retire" from a match has been revised to allow the actual scores of the match to be recorded. Forfeits are, however, still recorded as 11-0. 11-0 in 2-out-of-3 formats or 15-0 in games to 15. A team retiring may play additional matches in the bracket if any are warranted.