No Dumb Questions: Non-volley-zone violations

Another gem from the February USAPA eNewsletter. This question was submitted by Randy Jones, USAPA member.

Should you call a non-volley-zone violation on yourself during tournament play?

During a recent tournament there was a situation where I volleyed a winner, and after hitting the ball I saw that my toe was on the non-volley-zone (kitchen) line and called the violation on myself. No one, including the referee, saw the infraction, since everyone was watching to see if the ball I volleyed stayed in play.

My partner disagreed with my decision to call the violation on myself. It is his opinion that during tournament play it is the responsibility of the game referee to call kitchen violations, not the player.

The game referee did inform us prior to the start of the match that she would be watching for and calling service line and kitchen line violations.

What would you consider appropriate pickleball tournament behavior in this situation?

Call the violation on yourself or not call it and leave it up to the referee.

Answer: Your partner is correct is saying that, “During tournament play it is the responsibility of the game referee to call kitchen violations.”

However, there is another side to the story. To get the complete answer we queried the opinions of several of the top players in the sport. Following is a summary of their answers.

Although a few said that if the referee didn’t catch the violation they would not mention it, the general consensus was that, even though this scenario isn’t directly addressed, the pickleball code of ethics conveys the message that yes, you should call the violation on yourself.

One player was adamant that even a toe tip touching the line should be called on one’s self; however, he added, “If the score was 9 – 10 I might have to think about it.”

A well-known medal winner put it the best of all, “It’s a little thing called sportsmanship. Some people have it and can live with calling the infraction on themselves. Others need to win at all costs but lose in the end because the word gets out about these players. This is commandment #12 in the 12 Commandments of Pickleball.” 

You just have to decide for yourself and do what’s right within your own value system.

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