Can You Play Off Your Body In Pickleball?

Pickleball is a lot of fun, but there is often a lot of confusion surrounding what is and is not allowed. One of these things includes the rules surrounding “playing off the body” and the ball touching you and your opponents. 

Can You Play Off Your Body In Pickleball?

We will cover everything you need to know about this, including what the term actually means, whether it’s allowed, and what you need to know about being hit in the game.

Some of the rules around this might surprise you, so stick around to be better-informed!

What Does “Play Off Your Body” Mean?

This generally refers to when the ball hits a part of your body – it usually stays in play, and is returned by your opponent. So, this can often mean body shots, if that is an easier way to think of it. 

Can You Play Off Your Body In Pickleball?

No, you cannot play off your body in pickleball, unless the ball hits the wrist of the hand that is holding the paddle. Any other shots are not legal, and will result in a fault.

Pickleball generally follows the same rules that many other ball sports do, so if you are ever unsure, just go with what you know from games like tennis or badminton.

With that being said, there are some other rules to consider in pickleball, but these are not to do with body shots, so we will not cover them in this article.

It is forbidden for you to hit the ball with anything other than your paddle and the wrist of the hand you are holding the paddle with.

This means that, say, if you got hit in the chest, you would be the one at fault, not your opponent. This is because you failed to make contact with the ball using your paddle. 

In other words, it could be an easy way to try and score, but this is not recommended.

Hitting Your Opponents In Pickleball

As with many ball games, being hit, or hitting an opponent at some point, is inevitable. The good news is, this is allowed! You can hit your opponents on purpose, or have the occasional accident, and there are no rules against this. 

However, you should realize that being “that person” who consistently tried to hit their opponent probably will not make you very popular. Although getting hit with a pickleball doesn’t hurt, it can be an annoying occurrence if it keeps happening.

It can be distracting for everyone involved, and can put your player off, depending on where you aim.

We would never recommend deliberately aiming for your opponent when playing pickleball. Instead, play the game fair and square, and leave everyone to focus and have fun. 

As you will discover in the below points, you might soon find that people will not want to play against you on the court if you make a habit of targeting players.

Hitting Opponents Accidentally

Accidents happen, and those are unavoidable. Luckily, as we mentioned before, getting hit by a pickleball will not hurt, because it is so light. These balls will only weigh between 0.7–0.85 oz.

For some perspective, here are the weights of some other balls in sports you might be familiar with:

  • Cricket ball – 5.5–5.75 oz
  • Baseball ball – 5–5.25 oz
  • Lacrosse ball – 5–5.25 oz
  • Polo ball – 3.5–4.5 oz
  • Tennis ball – 2.10 oz
  • Golf ball – 1.620 oz
  • Racketball ball – 1.4 oz
  • Squash ball – 0.8–0.9 oz
  • Pickleball ball – 0.7–0.85 oz
  • Table tennis ball – 0.095 oz

So, looking at those weights, you can rest easy knowing that you don’t have to worry about causing any damage if you hit someone with a pickleball ball!

If you have ever been whacked with a cricket ball, or even a tennis ball, you will know how painful a hit can be. 

Nonetheless, if you accidentally hit someone in the face, you could still hurt them. For this reason, it is always better to avoid purposefully aiming at your opponent. Enjoy the game, and be a good sport without trying to put them off or distract them. 

Hitting Opponents Purposefully

Can You Play Off Your Body In Pickleball?

There is a good chance that there are going to be players who like to make a habit of hitting you in pickleball. As we established, this is allowed, but you will be the one at fault if you can’t return the ball with your paddle. 

While you could easily do this yourself, it likely is not going to make you a popular player on the court. Doing this can take the fun out of a game, unless it’s a term that you and your opponent have agreed to. 

Again, it is legal, but definitely not recommended. There are better ways to play the game and make it more enjoyable for everyone involved. 

Dealing With Players To Purposefully Hit Their Opponents

If you find that someone deliberately aims for their opponent’s body when they are playing pickleball, the best thing to do would be to avoid playing with them.

If it is suitable, you could try and have a conversation with them about it, but if you are playing against a stranger, it might not be worth it. 

Before you start a game, you could try and set some terms to play along with, so that both players are on the same page. 

Since it’s perfectly legal to do body shots with this painless ball, you can’t typically make complaints about things like this in an establishment. Chances are, you will be playing in an open court anyway, so it’s up to you to react accordingly. 

Avoid Getting Hit By The Pickleball: What You Need To Know

The good news is, there are some tips and tricks that you can implement to prevent yourself from being hit when playing pickleball. We will skim over some useful points to be aware of so that you don’t fall victim to this tactic:

  • Always be “pickleball ready”
  • Use protective eyewear (just to be safe)
  • Practice and perfect your drop shots, dinks, and third-shot drops. This can help to negate or prevent your opponent from being able to try body shots
  • Try to avoid popping up the ball
  • Keep your paddle up when defending 
  • Reset the rally when your opponent is going to smash the ball. Do this by loosening your grip and keeping a light stance. Focus on catching the ball and reducing the speed of your return
  • If you can’t avoid being hit and want to protect yourself for any reason, turn around. Again, a pickleball hit shouldn’t hurt much, if at all, but if you don’t have protective eyewear, it might be unpleasant. 

Final Thoughts

Pickleball is a lot of fun, but there are rules that you should be aware of before hopping into the court. Playing off your body (returning the ball via a body hit) is not allowed, but you are allowed to aim for your opponent’s body. 

This is important to bear in mind if you are planning on playing. While getting whacked in the body is not fun, and it can be distracting and allow your opponent to score (because you will be at fault), it is legal. 

Michael Walter
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