What happens if you drop your paddle in pickleball

What Happens If You Drop Your Paddle In Pickleball – A Guide

Are you a pickleball enthusiast who has ever experienced the heart-stopping moment when your paddle slips from your grip and tumbles to the ground? If so, you’re not alone! Dropping your paddle in pickleball can be a frustrating and even embarrassing mishap. 

If you drop your paddle in pickleball during a rally, the point continues, and your opponent gains an advantage. It’s crucial to maintain control to avoid accidental drops.

Here I’ll explore what happens if you drop your paddle in pickleball, why it may occur, strategies for avoiding it, how to recover if it does happen, and common mistakes made afterward. So grab your paddles tight and let’s dive into the world of dropped paddles in pickleball!

What Happens If You Drop Your Paddle In Pickleball – A Guide

During a pickleball match a few months ago, I had a firsthand encounter with a broken paddle.

I was in the midst of an intense volley with a friend when my paddle, a trusty composite one I’d been using for about a year, unexpectedly broke. Specifically, the handle detached, and the paddle dropped to the ground. 

While I was a bit disappointed, I also recognized that the rules in place were essential to maintaining the integrity of the game.

  1. If The Paddle Breaks During A Volley
  • The rally is immediately halted, and the point is replayed.
  • A broken paddle is classified as a “loose article,” which is not allowed within the Non-Volley Zone (NVZ).
  • If the broken paddle lands in the NVZ, the player responsible for causing the break loses the point.
  1. If The Paddle Breaks During A Serve
  • The serve is replayed.
  • A valid paddle is required for making a serve.
  • If the paddle breaks during the serve, it is deemed a fault, and the opponent gains the point.
  1. If The Paddle Breaks During A Rally And Lands On The Ground
  • The rally continues without interruption.
  • Once the paddle has landed on the ground, it is no longer considered a loose article.
  • However, if the paddle breaks into two pieces and those pieces interfere with the opponent’s ability to play the ball, the player who caused the break may lose the point.

Pickleball has specific rules in place to address the unique scenario of a broken paddle. 

These rules aim to ensure fair play and prevent a broken paddle from disrupting the game. My own experience taught me the importance of these rules in maintaining the integrity of the sport while handling an unexpected equipment malfunction.

What Causes You To Drop Your Paddle In Pickleball

Accidents happen, even on the pickleball court. One moment you’re fully focused on the game, and the next thing you know, your paddle slips out of your hand and clatters to the ground.

Here are some causes that why you drop your paddle in pickleball:

  • Sweaty Or Slippery Hands: One common cause is sweaty or slippery hands. As we engage in intense gameplay, our palms can become moist with sweat, making it difficult to maintain a firm grip on the paddle handle. This is especially true during hot summer months or in humid environments.
  • Improper Technique: Another culprit behind dropped paddles is an improper technique. If you’re not holding your paddle correctly or using proper form when executing shots, there’s an increased likelihood of losing control and dropping it unintentionally.
  • Fatigue: ‌Fatigue plays a role in paddle drops. When our muscles become tired after extended play sessions or during intense rallies, our coordination can suffer which may lead to accidental drops.
  • Distractions: ‌distractions can also contribute to dropped paddles. Whether it’s someone calling your name from the sidelines or an unexpected noise nearby, these external factors can momentarily divert your attention resulting in loss of grip.
  • Equipment Malfunctions: Lastly but not lastly! equipment malfunctions are another potential cause for dropping paddles mid-game; faulty grips or worn-out handles that lack adequate traction make it more challenging to keep a tight hold.

Strategies For Avoiding Dropping Your Paddle

When it comes to pickleball, keeping a firm grip on your paddle is essential. No one wants the embarrassment and inconvenience of dropping their paddle mid-game. 

To avoid this unfortunate mishap, here are some strategies you can employ:

1. Invest In A High-Quality Grip: A good grip can make all the difference in preventing accidental slips. Look for a paddle with a tacky or cushioned grip that provides optimal control and comfort.

2. Practice Your Hold: Ensure you have a proper hand placement on the handle. Experiment with different grips and find one that feels secure and natural for you.

3. Strengthen Your Wrist Muscles: Regularly incorporating wrist-strengthening exercises into your fitness routine can help improve stability and reduce the likelihood of losing control of your paddle.

4. Stay focused: Pay attention to every shot and stay mentally engaged throughout the game. Distractions can lead to careless mistakes, including dropping your paddle.

5. Use Wrist Straps Or Safety Cords: These handy accessories attach securely to your wrist, providing an extra layer of protection against accidental drops.

By implementing these strategies, you’ll significantly decrease the chances of dropping your paddle during intense pickleball matches. 

How To Recover After Dropping Your Paddle

Dropping your paddle during a pickleball game can be a moment of panic. Suddenly, you’re left without the most important tool in the game. But don’t worry, there are ways to recover quickly and get back on track.

  • Stay calm. Panicking will only make it harder to focus and find a solution. Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Look around for your paddle and try to locate it as quickly as possible.
  • Once you’ve found your paddle, retrieve it efficiently without causing any disruption to the game. Avoid running into other players or stepping onto the court if it’s unnecessary.
  • Next, rejoin the game smoothly by positioning yourself appropriately on the court. If you dropped your paddle while attempting a shot, try to recreate that shot or play along with your teammate’s strategy so you can seamlessly blend back into gameplay.
  • Communication is key when recovering from dropping your paddle in pickleball. Let your partner know what happened and come up with a plan together on how to continue playing effectively.

Remember, accidents happen even to experienced players. It’s important not to dwell on the mistake but focus on getting back into rhythm and enjoying the rest of the match.

Different Scenarios Of Dropping The Paddle

Accidents happen, and dropping your paddle during a game of pickleball is no exception. It can be frustrating, but it’s important to stay calm and focused. Let’s explore some different scenarios that may occur when you drop your paddle.

Scenario 1: The Slippery Grip

Picture this: you’re in the middle of an intense rally, and suddenly your sweaty hands cause your grip to slip. Your paddle goes flying across the court! Don’t panic – take a deep breath and use this as an opportunity to improve your grip technique for future games.

Scenario 2: The Unexpected Collision

In the heat of competition, collisions are bound to happen. You might accidentally collide with another player or get hit by a fast-moving ball, causing you to lose control of your paddle mid-swing. Stay alert and aware on the court to minimize these incidents.

Scenario 3: Equipment Malfunction

Sometimes equipment fails us at the most inconvenient times. Your paddle could break or malfunction during play, leading to an unexpected drop. Having a backup paddle on hand can save you from being left defenseless in such situations.

Remember, dropping your paddle doesn’t mean it’s game over. Stay focused, quickly retrieve it if possible without disrupting gameplay too much, and get back into position as soon as possible.

By understanding these different scenarios and being prepared for them mentally and physically, you’ll be better equipped to handle any situation that arises during a pickleball match.


In the speedy world of pickleball, a paddle drop can really throw you off your game, but it’s a hurdle we can overcome. We’ve dug into the reasons why it happens and how to steer clear of it. Keeping a strong grip by maintaining your grip tape and practicing your hand placement is key. Stay sharp and minimize distractions, especially during those nail-biting rallies. And if it does slip away for a moment, don’t let it break your stride – stay cool, grab your paddle, and get right back into the game without missing a beat. With these tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be dropping fewer paddles and enjoying the thrill of pickleball even more! 


How do I know if my pickleball paddle is broken?

You can tell if your pickleball paddle is broken by examining it for visible cracks, chips, or deformities on the surface, which may affect its performance, and by listening for any unusual rattling sounds from inside the paddle, indicating internal damage.

Can you drop your paddle in the kitchen in pickleball?

No, you cannot drop your paddle in the kitchen (Non-Volley Zone) in pickleball. It’s considered a fault, and your opponent gains the point.

What is drop serve in pickleball?

A drop serve in pickleball is a soft and controlled serve that is aimed to land just over the net, close to the non-volley zone (NVZ). It’s often used to start a point with a gentle, strategic placement rather than power.

Can you drop and hit a pickleball serve?

No, in pickleball, you must serve the ball without dropping and hit it directly into play.

Is there a drop shot in pickleball?

Yes, there is a drop shot in pickleball, where players use finesse to softly place the ball just over the net, making it difficult for opponents to reach and return.

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