Pickleball Rules

Any intramural policies not mentioned here may be found in the Intramural Handbook. Unless specifically mentioned below, play is governed by USA Pickleball Rules. By participating in Intramural Sports, the participant agrees to abide by all Intramural rules and policies. 

You may suffer physical and/or mental injury from participating in Intramural Sports. There are certain risks of injury that are inherent to participation in sports and recreational activities. These types of injuries may be minor or serious and may result from the actions or inactions of themselves or others. By choosing to participate in Intramural Sports, you do so at your own risk. It is understood that most activities require a certain level of fitness and health, and that each person has a different capacity for participating in these activities. Participants of Intramural Sports are highly encouraged to have a physical examination and procure health insurance prior to play. UC Campus Recreation does not provide health insurance.

Intramural Supervisors undergo concussion recognition training. In the instance a participant is exhibiting any signs or symptoms of a concussion as a result of a head injury sustained during intramural play, he or she will be removed from the activity. This individual must provide a physician’s note clearing the individual to play by a specific date. This note may be e-mailed to intramural@uc.edu or faxed to 513-556-0601.


Following each game, teams will receive a sportsmanship rating between 0.0 and 4.0.


In order to qualify for playoffs, teams must obtain a 3.0 or higher sportsmanship average during the regular season based on the table below:

Sportmanship Rating
Score Player & Team Behavior  
4.0 Always respectful to officials and opposing team.
No complaining or arguing.
Does not comment about officials’ calls.
3.0 Usually respectful to officials and opposing team.
Minimal arguing or complaining about officials.
Maximum one unsportsmanlike penalty issued.
2.0 Consistent dissent or disrespect to officials/opposing team.
Consistent arguing and/or complaining about officials’ calls.
Maximum of two unsportsmanlike penalties or one ejection.
1.0 Excessive complaining, dissent or disrespect to officials/opposing team.
Contact or provocation of officials or opposing team members not inherent to the sport.
Any player involved in a fight.
Maximum of three unsportsmanlike penalties or two ejections.
0.0 Team and/or players are unsafe/out of control.
Multiple players on team fighting.
Destruction or abuse of UC property.

* A team that receives a "0" rating will be suspended from competition until its captain meets with the Assistant Director or Coordinator of Intramural Sports. The team may be removed from competition without refund.


In addition to team ratings, any unsportsmanlike actions may be forwarded to Judicial Affairs and may include but is not limited to revocation of Intramural Sports and/or Campus Recreation privileges.


To be eligible for intramural sports, each player must be a current University of Cincinnati student [enrolled in at least one (1) credit hour], faculty, or staff member. Additionally, participants must have a valid and active Campus Recreation membership.


Uptown, full-time UC students receive a Campus Recreation membership through full payment of the Campus Life Fee. All other populations will need to purchase a membership in order to be eligible to play.


Participants may participate on one (1) mixed gender and one (1) non-mixed gender (i.e. men's, women's, open, fraternity, sorority) team per sport, per season. Substituting for another team in the same league is prohibited.


Every game, each participant must check in with the intramural official with a valid Bearcat card.


Intramural particpants must additionally meet all requirements of Section 3.4:


Teams are limited to two (2) competitive club sport participants (in the same or similar sport) on its roster.


Current varsity athletes and professional athletes are not allowed to play on an intramural team of the same or similar sport as their varsity sport.


Former varsity athletes must sit out 365 days from last appearing on a varsity roster to be eligible to play in the same or similar sport as their varsity sport. Teams are allowed one (1) former varsity athlete (in the same or similar sport) per roster.


Jewelry is not allowed during intramural play. This includes earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and fitness trackers, among other things.


Medical jewelry is allowed but must be taped down with athletic tape.


Headwear is not permitted during intramural play. This includes hats and bandannas among similar items.


Athletic clothing and footwear is required. Prohibited items include but is not limited to: jeans, cargo pants/shorts, skirts, loafers, open-toed shoes, and boots.


Non-marking footwear is required to participate.


Any casts, braces, or other protective equipment must be padded and secure.


Eye wear is recommended, but not provided.


UC Intramural Sports will provide a net and a ball - paddles are to be provided by the player. Campus Rec paddles are limited, and are available on a first come - first serve basis.


Prior to registration close, a team must have at least two players confirmed on its IMLeagues roster. Teams that fail to do so may not be included in the league.


Once playoffs begin, players may not be added to the roster without direct approval of the Coordinator and/or Assistant Director of Intramurals.


Teams may have up to three (3) players on its roster.


Mixed gender teams may not have more than one player of one gender on the court


Mixed gender teams must adhere to section 5.5 regardless of injury or ejection - even if it results in a short handed scenario


Teams are permitted one (1) checked-in coach on the bench. 


The game shall be played best of three sets to eleven (11), win by two (2)


There shall be no timeouts 


Teams that arrive late to games and/or are not ready with the minimum roster by start time will receive the following penalty:


1-4 minutes late = Other team begins up 3-0 and has choice of first pitch


5-9 minutes late = Other team begins up 5-0 and has choice of first pitch


10+ minutes late = Game is forfeited. 


Teams that forfeit must pay a $20 non-refundable reinstatement fee prior to the end of the regular season to be eligible for playoff consideration [Refer to Section XII of the Intramural Handbook for more information]


In order to prevent forfeits, teams may also default once per season. Teams must give a minimum 48 hour notice of default to qualify by emailing intramural@uc.edu. [Refer to Section XII of the Intramural Handbook for more information]


The captains will hold a pre-match Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner will determine if they want first serve


In playoffs, the higher seed will determine if they want first serve. 


Only the serving team may score points


Teams will alternate sides and first serve after each game


 For the third game, teams will switch sides after a team hits six (6) points


There shall be no mercy rule, however a third set will not be played if one team wins the first two sets


The serve must be made underhand with the paddle contacting the ball below the server's waist.


The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court past the kitchen and the kitchen's boundary line.


When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning.  Then, the serving team must let it bounce before returning (two bounces).


After the ball has bounced once in each team's court, either team may volley (hit the ball in the air before it bounces).


Only one serve attempt is allowed unless a let serve occurs (which will be replayed).  A let serve is when the ball touches the net on the serve and lands in the proper service court.


For doubles teams, each partner will have the opportunity to serve and score points until they commit a fault (*except for the first service sequence of each game).


The first serve of each side-out is made from the right hand court and the player on this side.

  • If the serving team wins the point, the server switches sides and serves from the left side.  As subsequent points are scored, the server continues to switch back and forth until they lose a point.
  • When the first server loses serve, the partner then serves from their correct side of the court (*except for the first service sequence of the game).  The second server continues until they lose a point, and thus lose serve to the opposing team.
  • Then the opposing team follows the same sequence from the beginning of this rule.


At the beginning of each new game, only one partner on the serving team has the opportunity to serve.  Once that server loses serve, the opposing team takes over service.


A fault by the receiving teams results in a point for the serving team.  A fault by the serving team results in the server's loss of serve or side out.


The following shall be considered faults:

  • A serve does not land with the confines of the receiving court (diagonally opposed court past the kitchen and the kitchen's boundary line).
  • The ball is hit into the net on the serve or any return.
  • The ball is volleyed before bouncing once on both sides of the court.
  • The ball is hit out of bounds.
  • A ball is volleyed from the non-volley zone (kitchen).
  • A ball bounces twice before being hit.
  • A player, player's clothing, or any part of a player's paddle touches the net or posts when the ball is in play.
  • There is a violation of a service rule.
  • A ball in play strikes a player or any part of their clothing.
  • A ball in play strikes any permanent object before bouncing on the court.