FAQ: Is it an automatic fault if I say "out" to my partner?

Pickleball players inquiring minds want to know...

Way Out sign for calling out balls in pickleball, The Pickleball Broadcast

Q: Is it an automatic fault if I say "out" to my partner?

A. No, it is not an automatic fault if you say "out" to your partner during play.

If your partner hits the ball before it bounces, we'll actually never know if it was going to be out... (After all, when players impart spin or when it's windy, pickleballs have been known to suddenly drop, curve, or get pushed in any direction.)

Saying "out" BEFORE the ball bounces or is hit is considered to be "legal" pickleball partner communication.

If your partner volleys the ball across the net (takes the ball in the air) after you said "out" and your opponents stop playing because they heard your partner communication and assumed the ball would be dead, your team would win the point.

Today's best practice is to get in the habit of replacing the "out" call with "bounce," "bounce it," "no," or "let it go."

If, however, your partner hears your "out" call (or discerns that for themselves) and the ball clearly bounces out of bounds, one of you will need to verbalize "out" again. The opponents (and your referee if in a tournament) will expect you to make this verbal line call after the ball bounces.

Sportsmanship

Obviously, sportsmanship requires that if you call the ball "out" before it bounces and your partner lets it go, but the ball lands anywhere on the line, you would verbalize an "in" call.

If the receiving team cannot definitively call the ball out, the benefit of the doubt is given to the opposing team and is considered in. If there is a disagreement between partners, where one is sure that it is in and the other is sure it's out, we also consider it to be in and call it in favor of the opponents.

Official Pickleball Rules

Each year USA Pickleball reviews and updates the official pickleball rules. The currently rules can be downloaded to your mobile device for quick reference. If you reside and play elsewhere, do check your country's pickleball association.