PALM BEACH COUNTY PICKLEBALL LEAGUE RULES
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To form a Palm Beach County Pickleball Competitive League, which will promote a competitive Pickleball program for intercommunity play for both men and women who are 55 and older that encourages good sportsmanship, camaraderie and safety.
It will consist of Divisions of 7-8 teams that will compete during the Fall season, and the Spring season.
Requirements for community participation
A community must have a minimum of two regulation sized hard surfaced pickleball courts. If they do not, because of repair or other temporary reasons, they will travel each week but provide the balls and drinks when they were deemed the "Home Team".
1. Each community will host the game an equal number of times (approximately), unless their courts are non-playable, and provide bottled water and new balls for the players.
Each community must provide a preliminary team roster at least 30 days prior to the start of each season. The roster must have a minimum of 10 eligible players and a maximum of 20 eligible players. The roster will be frozen at least 14 days before the start of the season, or at a date specified by the League Director.
The community must be approved by the Board.
All communities can play only 1 match at any given time. Communities with multiple courts, multiple seating areas and adequate parking may apply to the Board for permission to play more than 1 match simultaneously and may play them only when approved.
2. Eligibility of players
a. A player must be a current resident of the community or live full time in the community in Palm Beach County.
b. A player must be age 55 or older by the first day of play of the season.
c. Both Men and Women will be playing interchangeably.
d. Each player can fill only one Line position of the team.
e. A player cannot have been a professional tennis or professional pickleball player, teacher, instructor, or coach in the past ten (10) years.
a. Every effort shall be made to place teams in a Division commensurate with their skills.
b. Each Division shall have a minimum of 5 teams.
c. In each new season, teams will be upgraded or downgraded in accordance with their performance within their division in the prior season.
d. Generally, the first one or two teams will be moved up to the next higher division, and the one or two lowest teams will be moved down to the next lower division.
e. These moves will be reviewed by the Board and may be subject to overrule if warranted. (Illnesses, injuries, vacancies).
f. All new teams may be added to the lowest division at the discretion of the Coordinator, after discussion with the teams’ Pros.
4. To prevent stacking/lineup restriction violations, the following procedure has been adopted:
a. An individual may not play up or down more than one Line from one match to the next match. If a player has not played consecutive matches, then his/her allowable court positions are determined by the court he/she last played.
b. In case of rain-outs or other postponements, the last played Line shall be determined by the original scheduled date and not the chronological match date.
c. Any infraction of this No stacking/Lineup Restriction Rule will result in a default of that Line plus the loss of 2 Standing Points if the player played more than 1 line UP, or the loss of 1 Standing Point if the player played more than 1 Line DOWN.
d. For the next match the offending player(s) is/are scheduled to play, the player(s) prior Line position shall be that he/she occupied the last time played prior to the week of the infraction.
e. Exemption to the Rule: The No Stacking/Lineup Restriction Rule may be modified to allow players to move up more than 1 line if required to fill the defaulted line(s) due to Forfeitures while keeping the same order in which they are listed on the scoresheet. These players, who were affected by the Forfeiture Rule, will then revert back to their pre-forfeiture Line position for Anti-stacking evaluation.
f. The League will be reviewing all lineups to make sure that this rule is enforced. Captains may notify the League of any presumed infractions within 48 hours from the end of the game. The League will then review the case, and make the determination if any infraction has occurred and impose the disqualification and penalty, if justified.
g. This rule does not apply to the first match of any season
5. Dates and Time of Play
a. The starting date for the Fall shall be the beginning of October.
b. The starting date for the Spring season shall be the beginning of January.
c. Each season shall run 6 - 7 weeks followed by a Playoff for the top 4 teams followed by a Finals for the top 2 teams.
d. The games shall be played on Saturdays starting at 11:00am or 1pm, unless an earlier time is agreed to by BOTH teams. In the event that the rules and/or ordinances of a community do not allow for matches to begin at 11:00am, the match must begin at the earliest the community allows, but no later than 12:00 Noon. If any community will not allow games before 12 Noon, the Home Captain must make other arrangements. Any Home Captain so affected, should inform the opposing Captain by the preceding Wednesday. If any games are scheduled for 1pm that day, that opposing Captain should be told as well.
e. All 5 court positions must be played on the scheduled date. Captains do not have the option to allow one or more courts to be played on a different day. This regulation applies to the original scheduled match play; it is not relevant for rainouts.
f. No match shall start prior to the arrival of all players.
g. The teams will play each other once during the season, and the winning team shall email the results to the Division Coordinator.
h. If necessary, because of the number of teams in the league, a "bye" may be scheduled for each team.
i. For each Division, the four teams with the greatest number of points will play in the Playoffs; (#1 vs #4 at the #1 courts, #2 vs #3 at the #2 courts), and the winners of the playoffs shall play in the Finals 1 week later. In any Division with less than 6 teams, no playoffs will occur.
j. The Finals shall be played at the courts of the #1 seeded team, but hosted by the League, and determined by the League Coordinator.
k. A team trophy will be awarded to teams finishing 1st and 2nd of each Division at the end of each season.
6. Play of the Game
a. Each team will simultaneously submit completed line-ups to each other before the start of the match.
b. Each team will consist of 5 lines of two players each. 10 players will be needed for each team match.
c. Each line will play best 2 of 3 games.
d. Each game will be first to 11 points, win by 2.
e. Each match will begin with a coin toss. The winner of the toss shall choose either to serve or receive; or side. The second game will be opposite.
f. If a third game is necessary another coin toss will be done. Whenever the first team scores a total of 6 points, the teams will switch sides of the court. They shall NOT change sides anytime thereafter.
g. In communities with 2 courts, Line 5 and Line 4 will be played first. When they finish their first game, Line 3 and Line 2 will play their first game, then rotate to Line 1 and Line 5 (who will be playing their second game). This will continue on a rotational basis until all Lines have finished their matches. If any Line splits sets, they will play a third set tiebreaker to 11 points, also in a rotational basis. In communities with more than 2 courts, games may be played on as many courts simultaneously, as available, if both Captains agree to playing more than two courts at a time.
If more than 2 courts are used, and any line is able to play their games consecutively, players may be allowed up to 15 minutes rest between games.
h. Competition shall not begin until all participating players from both teams are present. If all players are not present at the designated starting time, a 15 minute grace period shall be given.
i. If a forfeit of a Line is necessary the Line forfeited shall be won by the opposing team and they shall be awarded the Standing Points for that Line. All other Lines will be unaffected.
j. Time-outs: Two 1-minute time-outs shall be allowed per team per game. Coaching shall be allowed during these time-outs. In addition, one Medical time-out shall be allowed per player per match. This Medical time-out may be up to 15 minutes. No coaching shall be allowed during Medical time-outs. In addition, hydration time outs may be called by any player, as long as it does not appreciably prolong the game. A Time-out can be called by one of the four players or the Team Captain or Co-Captain or Pro, or anyone designated by the Captain.
k. Playoffs: A player must have played at least one game during the regular season to be eligible to play in any playoff game.
l. All serving violations: The server must announce the correct score before serving so all the players can hear. If the receiving team believes a serving violation has occurred (score not called, wrong score called, incomplete score, baseline foot fault, wrong side serving or illegal serve) they shall stop play by either catching the ball or discontinuing play and announce the violation. At that point the ball is considered dead and a do-over must ensue. If the receiving team fails to stop play and fails to call out the violation and play continues, they cannot call it later.
The first violation shall result in a warning and subsequent violations for the same infraction results in that team losing its serve, and then it becomes the second serve or side out.
1. Any member of the team, including the Captain, the Co-captain, the Pro, or any designee of the Captain may coach the players during the 1 minute Time outs.
2. No coaching during Medical time outs. No coaching during hydration breaks.
n. Line calling: All line calls must be made promptly by voice or hand signal. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made. Any ball that cannot be called “out” will be considered in. Players shall not call a ball “out” unless they can clearly see a space between the line and the ball as it hits the ground.
7. Match Point Scoring
a. Scoring will be weighted by position of Line to prevent "stacking"/lineup restriction violations:
Line 1 win = 6 Standing Points.
Line 2 win = 5 Standing Points.
Line 3 win = 5 Standing Points.
Line 4 win = 4 Standing Points.
Line 5 win = 3 Standing Points.
b. At the end of the match both Captains will sign the score sheets.
c. At the end of each match, the Captain of the winning team shall scan and email or fax their scores to their Division Coordinator. The scoresheets shall be sent to the Division Coordinators no later than 5pm on Saturday for 11am matches, and no later than 7pm for 1pm matches. Rain delay matches shall be sent in no later than 5 hours after the match.
d. If two or more teams are tied for a playoff or winning position at the end of the regular season, the team with the most points in head-to-head competition shall be declared the winner.
8. Weather delays
a. Matches shall be delayed if any of the following conditions are met (according to www.weather.com)
1. Temperature 45 degrees or less.
2. Temperature 95 degrees or more.
3. Sustained winds of 30 mph or more
4. Rain such that the courts are wet.
If any of these conditions are present up to 1 hour prior to game time, the home captain shall contact the visiting captain no later than 1 hour before the match time to spare the players an unnecessary trip, and the match shall be postponed under the Rules in Section 8, "Rescheduling of postponed games".
b. After teams have assembled, but not yet started:
1. They shall wait for up to 45 minutes for conditions to improve, unless both captains agree to a longer or shorter wait.
c. After teams have exchanged rosters:
1. At any time after the teams have exchanged rosters, and weather conditions are such that rain, thunder or lightning is imminent, games may be played on as many as 4 courts concomitantly, if available, if both Captains agree to playing more than two courts at a time.
2. This limited exception is to be used in good faith and sparingly and not routinely.
3. In the event that both Captains at a match agree to utilize this limited exception to the two court rule, they are required to indicate in writing on the match scoresheet that is submitted to the League that they did so with a brief explanation of the exigent weather conditions or reasons to use more than 2 courts, signed by both Captains.
4. Continuation of play can be delayed up to 45 minutes unless both captains agree to a longer or shorter wait. If play is postponed, all games and points played before interruption stand and play resumes from that point, with the same player line-up.
9. Rescheduling of postponed matches
a. When postponement is necessary, the next weather delay date shall be according to these rules:
1. If the match was scheduled for 11am, the next time shall start at 2:30pm of that Saturday. If still unplayable, the next time shall be Sunday at 11am. If still unplayable the next time shall be 2:30pm of that Sunday. If still unplayable the next time shall be Monday at 11am. If still unplayable the next time shall be at 2:30pm of that Monday.
2. If the match was scheduled for 1pm, the next time shall be 4pm of that Saturday. If still unplayable, the next time shall be Sunday at 1pm. If still unplayable the next time shall be 4pm of that Sunday. If still unplayable the next time shall be Monday at 1pm. If still unplayable the next time shall be at 4pm of that Monday.
3. If both captains agree to an earlier time or different venue, and conditions are acceptable, that will be allowed by the League. Any Lines not played within those dates and times will be considered ‘no contest’ and no points will be awarded to either team.
b. All games and points played before the postponement will stand. No player substitutions will be allowed for a game that has started, even if the game is rescheduled for a different day. The match is considered officially started when rosters are exchanged.
c. If one or more of the players of a Line are unable to continue play on a rescheduled time and date, it will be considered a default of that position (not a forfeit), and the winning team will receive all the Standing Points from that Line.
d. If conditions are unacceptable on all the above weather delay dates and times, that match will be entered as 0-0. If any Lines have been finished those scores shall be entered, and all unfinished Lines be 0-0.
10. Forfeits and Resignations
1: A line shall be considered a forfeit if:
Either of the two players from a team is not available to play within 15 minutes of the starting time.
b. When a Captain tells the opposing Captain that they will Forfeit any specific Line.
2. The Team that forfeited will lose the Standing Points for that Line and they will be awarded to the opposing team.
3. No team members will be assigned to that Line for future Anti-Stacking/Lineup Restriction purposes.
4. A team that forfeits more than three Lines during a season may be dropped from the League.
5. Any team that forfeits an entire match without an emergency or unforeseen occurrence may be dropped at the sole discretion of the League.
6. Any line may be forfeited if a team is unable to fill that line due to injury or unavailability. However, if a team chooses to forfeit a line, all players that have played the forfeited Line, as determined by the Line he/she last played, are ineligible to play that day. The intent of this rule is to prevent the creation of a competitive advantage by a team moving better players to more winnable place in the lineup.
7. Forfeiting a line does not nullify the anti-stacking/Line restriction rule.
b. Resignations: If a player cannot finish a started game for any reason, that game will be considered a resignation.
1. The team that resigned will be awarded the points that they had already earned, but lose that game.
2. If a player resigns during a game, he/she may be able to play subsequent games that day in that Line.
3. The team that resigned and cannot finish their game(s) will lose the Standing Points for that Line and they will be awarded to the opposing team.
a. There shall be no player fees to join this league except a nominal entrance donation per team to cover the cost of trophies to be awarded at the end of each season.
b. This shall be reviewed on an annual basis.
12. USAPA Regulations
a. All players in the Palm Beach County Pickleball League will abide by the USAPA Rules. These rules shall apply unless the League Rules are contrary and then the League Rules shall supersede.
a. Appropriate balls approved by the USAPA will be provided by the home team for all games played. For the Fall 2022 and the Spring 2023 the approved ball will be the Onix Outdoor Yellow ball which is stamped USAPA approved. All balls shall be new unused balls.
If both Captains agree they may use the Franklin X-40 yellow outdoor ball instead.
14. Paddles and Shirts
a. Paddles must conform to USAPA specifications.
b. Inappropriate apparel may now include apparel that approximates the color of the tournament ball. The Captains will have the right to require an apparel change during a non-chargeable time-out. This Rule will be effective 10/1/2023. Failure to conform to this Rule may result in a Forfeiture of the match.
15. Players Rights and Responsibilities.
a. Players must remember that they represent their club and their behavior reflects on their fellow team members. When playing at home, make the visiting team feel welcome. When playing away, remember you are a guest at your opponent’s club.
b. Players must adhere to the dress code and footwear requirements of the home club.
c. A player may request an umpire if he feels it is needed, and only under extreme circumstances. The umpire will have authority to overrule calls if requested.
d. A player may request to have a spectator removed if the spectator is causing a disturbance or conduct violation. At such time the spectator may be warned or removed at the discretion of the person in charge.
e. A player may request a rule interpretation from either team captain.
f. A player may NOT ask those watching (including the person in charge) whether a ball is in or out, or what the score is.
g. A player must show good sportsmanlike conduct during all League matches.
h. Any team violating these rules or the Code of Conduct may be suspended for the balance of the season and/or not invited back for the following season at the discretion of the Board of Directors.
i. Captains and players should familiarize themselves with these rules prior to the start of the season. Captains cannot agree to any situation which violates these rules.
a. Spectators are welcome to watch and enjoy the matches. Their role, however, is restricted to passive observers with no involvement of any kind during the match.
b. Cell phones and beepers must be turned off on and near the courts where matches are being played.
a. The captains shall try to resolve all disputes "on the spot". When there is a complaint about a member’s misbehavior or a dispute that cannot be settled by the captains, each team shall submit a written account of the incident to the League for resolution.
b. In order to avoid ongoing disputes between opposing players during a match, any player competing in a game, or any Captain in that match, may request that line refs be appointed, at any time, for that game.
Upon such request, the Captain from each team shall appoint one experienced player from the team or community, which may include the Captain or any Pro’s in attendance, to serve as a line ref for that game. If, for any reason, any team cannot get a Ref from their team, the opposing team shall appoint two players.
One line ref from each of the two teams competing shall stand on either side of the width of the court in proximity to a kitchen line, and shall have the following duties:
• Referees will call kitchen violations on their own initiative without being asked.
•For all other faults or violations, such as in or out line calls, referees may confirm or deny a call by players only if they are asked by a player.
•As to serve violations, baseline foot faults, failing to call out the score or calling an incorrect score, if asked by a player, they will confirm or not. If confirmed, they will issue one warning to the offending player. The next such confirmed violation will result in loss of serve or point.
•Both Line Refs do not need to make or confirm a violation or fault. The line ref in the superior position to see a violation will normally make or confirm a call.
•If both line refs cannot confirm or deny a call, then the refs must announce they did not have a good enough view, and the call on the court stands.
•The goal of the line refs is not to be intrusive but to be present for the purpose of preventing further verbal disputes over calls.
18. Board of Directors
a. The Board shall be made up of the Coordinator and a representative from different participating teams.
b. They shall resolve any unsettled team disputes
c. They shall establish dates, times and locations of all matches.
d. They shall provide weekly reports of team standings to all captains.
e. They shall adjudicate suspensions for violations of rules.
f. The Board members shall serve for a term of one year.
g. The present Board of Directors is made up of:
Walter Gassner – Coordinator
Debbie Spina – Aberdeen CC
Howard Shames – Coral Lakes
Howie Rowling – Four Seasons
Frank Rosenblum – Valencia Bay
Murray Gendzel – Valencia Reserve
Janet Carbone – Valencia Sound
Tony Guerriero – Venetian Isles
Sid Tweady – Wycliffe CC