Pickleball has a set of slightly changed rules for players competing in wheelchairs. These adaptive pickleball rules increase the size of the court, add the ability for the ball to bounce twice on either side of the court before being returned, and slightly adapt the non-volley zone.
Pickleball Wheelchair Rules
Pickleball is a sport for everybody, regardless of age, gender, or physical limitations. One of the fantastic ways pickleball opens itself up to be accessible to all is by having a discrete set of rules for wheelchair players compared to standing players.
Pickleball isn’t the only sport to offer adaptive rules for tournaments and casual play by players in a wheelchair. Basketball is possibly the most popular wheelchair sport, but wheelchair tennis, rugby, and badminton also have large player bases.
The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) has a set of rules specifically for adaptive/wheelchair pickleball. This full rulebook can be found here.
What’s the Difference Between Wheelchair Pickleball Rules and Standing Pickleball Rules?
|Adaptive Pickleball||Standard Pickleball|
|Court Size||74 by 44 feet||44 feet by 20 feet|
|Bounce Rules||Two bounces on either side of the court||One bounce on each side of the court|
|Non-Volley Zone||The front wheels of a wheelchair may enter the kitchen without a penalty being incurred||No part of the player may touch the NVZ while completing a volley|
The first main difference is that the size of the court boundaries is increased when playing a game of pickleball with wheelchairs. Rather than being 44 feet long (baseline to baseline) by 20 feet wide (from sideline to sideline), for adaptive pickleball, the playing surface becomes 74 feet by 44 feet.
The recommended pickleball court size for adaptive play in a stadium court is slightly bigger: 80 feet by 50 feet.
Double Bounce Rule
The only big rule change between the guidelines for standing players and those playing para pickleball is the double bounce rule.
In classic pickleball, the ball may only bounce once on either side of the court. As soon as there is a second bounce, a fault is called.
In the adaptive version of the sport of pickleball, that two-bounce rule becomes a three-bounce rule; i.e, the ball may bounce twice on a single side of the net before being returned.
There are also slight differences in the rules regarding the non-volley zone in adaptive pickleball.
In standing pickleball rules, no part of the player’s body may be touching the non-volley zone while performing a volley (however, you are allowed to lean over the line and make contact with the pickleball paddle being over the line, as long as nothing is touching the ground of the zone).
In adaptive pickleball, a wheelchair pickleball player’s front wheels may enter the NVZ while completing a volley without a fault being called.
Under the classic rules of pickleball, if a player touches the ground in the non-volley zone, they cannot volley a return until both of their feet have touched the ground outside the kitchen.
In wheelchair pickleball, this rule is adapted slightly. If the rear wheels of a player’s wheelchair have touched the non-volley zone, both rear wheels must have exited the NVZ before a return can be volleyed.
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