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Pickleball has been steadily gaining popularity in recent years, and with the increase in players comes a rise in competitive spirit. As in any sport, competitors seek an edge to gain an advantage over their opponents. One such advantage in pickleball comes from the use of gloves. But, with new rules in place, the question arises: “Can you wear gloves while serving in pickleball?” In this article, we delve deep into the pickleball glove rule and explore its implications for players.
Pickleball Gloves and the Rules
According to the new rules set by USA Pickleball for 2022, no foreign substances, material, apparatus, or additional body parts can be applied to the hand that releases the pickleball during a serve. The intention behind this rule is to maintain a level playing field for all players by preventing any unfair advantage gained through the use of external aids. This has led to some confusion and controversy among players, referees, and even the rule-makers themselves to determine the precise boundaries of what is and isn’t allowed.
While the rules do not explicitly ban the use of gloves, the controversy lies in whether they fall under the category of a “foreign substance, material, or apparatus” that could provide an unfair advantage. Some argue that gloves can help a player achieve better grip and control, while others maintain that they do not significantly alter the game or provide any real advantage.
Moreover, the rule’s language is open to interpretation, and its application can vary based on individual circumstances. For instance, a player may wear gloves for warmth, protection, or to manage sweaty hands. In these cases, it’s essential to consider the spirit of the rule and whether the use of gloves is in line with fair play and sportsmanship.
The Controversy: Gloves, Bandaids, and Wedding Rings
The new rule could be interpreted in various ways, with some believing it bans gloves, wedding rings, or even the use of soap or lotion to wash or moisturize one’s hands. USA Pickleball referee Ron Ponder initially dismissed such interpretations as absurd. However, Mark Peifer, the chairman of USA Pickleball’s Rule Committee, saw the matter differently.
Peifer stated that the intention of the rule is to prevent someone from using something “extra” on their hands or fingers to impart extra spin. He pointed to a video by YouTuber Shea Underwood, who recommends wearing a bandaid for that reason. Peifer clarified that wedding rings are acceptable as long as they don’t end up on the fingers that impart spin as part of the snap. But gloves and bandaids on the hand imparting spin are problematic.
The Spirit of the Pickleball Glove Rule
According to Peifer, players can either abide by the spirit of the rule or risk having the serve banned altogether. For players wearing a bandaid due to a cut, they are welcome to perform a volley serve without a finger snap until they no longer need the bandaid. As for gloves for warmth, players must decide if they want to play in a tournament badly enough to do so without gloves.
In short, if you’re going to perform a one-handed spin serve, Peifer suggests that the spirit of the rules implies you should leave your bandaid and glove at home. It’s worth mentioning that Dinkheads, a pickleball resource, tried using a bandaid while practicing the Underwood serve to protect their index finger and didn’t find it provided any extra spin.
Serving Techniques and New Rules
In 2021, many players experimented with the “chainsaw” serve, where the server rolls the ball against the paddle, sometimes including the grip, before striking the fast-spinning ball. The intense spin on the ball can make it kick left, right, up, or down. However, this move has been banned for 2022. Instead, players can still put “finger spin” on a serve, as long as they follow the new rules.
The updated rules state that servers can only use one hand to release the ball for the serve. If the ball is visibly spun by the server during the release, the parts of the hand contacting the ball must be bare (no gloves, bandaids, etc.). Furthermore, the receiver (and referee, if present) must be able to see the server’s release of the ball.
For example, a server wearing a glove on her hand that releases the ball could remove the glove material, allowing the thumb and first two fingers (that touch the ball) to be exposed and add spin to the ball. The referee would then permit this glove to be used.
To see the complete set of rules, visit the official USA Pickleball rulebook here.
The debate surrounding the “pickleball glove rule” highlights the evolving nature of the sport as new techniques emerge, and players seek a competitive edge. While the new rules aim to maintain the spirit of the game and create a level playing field, they have also generated confusion and controversy.
Ultimately, players must decide whether they are willing to sacrifice certain accessories, such as gloves or bandaids, to comply with the rules and participate in tournaments. Additionally, players should stay informed about rule changes and adapt their techniques accordingly.
If you’re looking to up your game with the right pickleball glove, don’t forget to check out our list of Top Pickleball Gloves To Up Your Game. And for more guidance on choosing the perfect glove, visit our article on The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Pickleball Glove.