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Four Wall Paddleball Rules

Table of Contents:

Rule i - The Game
Rule ii - The Court
Rule iii- The Equipment
Rule iv- Serve Regulations
Rule v - Playing Regulations
Rule vi - Officiating

Rule i The Game

Rule 1.1 types of games - paddleball may by played by two players (singles), or four players (doubles)

Rule 1.2 description - paddleball is played with an n.p.a. Approved paddle made of wood or some other composition material and an official paddleball.

Rule 1.3 objective - the object is to win the rally by serving or returning the ball so the opponent is unable to return the ball to the front wall before it touches the floor twice.

Rule 1.4 points - points are scored only by the serving side when it serves an ace or wins a rally.

Rule 1.5 match - a game is won by the first side scoring 21 points - a match is won by the first side winning two games. In the event each side wins a game, a third game "tie breaker" will be won by the side first scoring 11 points in rounds preceding the semi-finals. For the semi-finals and finals a tie-breaker will be 21 points. In round robin events a tie-breaker will be played to 21 points.

Rule ii The Court

Rule 2.1 - the standard four-wall court is 40 feet long, 20 feet wide with front and side walls 20 feet high, a back wall at least 12 feet high and a ceiling. A line midway between and parallel with the front and back walls divides the court in the center and is called the short line. A line five feet in front of the short line and parallel to it is called the service line. The area between the service line and the short line is called the service zone. A line 18 inches from and parallel with the side wall at each end of the service zone is called the service box. Vertical lines 3 inches from the floor, marked on each side wall, five feet back of the short line are called receiving lines. All lines are 1-1/2 inches wide and are an appropriate distinguishing color.

Rule iii Equipment


  • a) To be made of wood or composite material
  • b) Must have a safety strap attached
  • c) Dimensions:
    • 1) Length - Maximum of 17.25 inches
    • 2) Width - Maximum of 8.5 inches
    • 3) Thickness - Maximum of 0.75 inches (handle may be thicker)
  • d) Weight - Maximum of 16 ounces
  • e) Must be safe: no metal rims or protrusions
  • f) Must not provide an unfair advantage


  • The NPA Board of Managers based on the above criteria shall approve paddles used in NPA events.
  • A list of approved paddles can be viewed at
  • Any paddle is subject to inspection during tournament play by a representative of the NPA Board of Managers
  • Instances of unfair advantage may include, but not be limited to: abnormal increase in speed or directional changes when struck.

Breach: Anyone found using an unapproved paddle may be asked to cease usage until the NPA Board of Managers makes proper evaluation. If a second violation occurs at a tournament, the player will be disqualified from all divisions.


The official ball is the Ektelon ball. When dropped from a height of 6 feet, it should rebound approximately 3 1/2 feet.


Players may not play without shirts or shoes. Long pants are prohibited for tournament play.

Rule iv Serve Regulations

Rule 4.1 serve - the serve shall be determined by a toss of a coin - with the loser of the toss serving first in the second came. If a third game is played, the server of the first game will have first serve in the that game. In informal play, contestants can rebound the ball from the front wall with the player landing closest to the short line winning the serve.

Rule 4.2 position of server - the server may serve from anywhere in the service zone with no part of either foot extending beyond either line of the service zone. The server must start and remain in the service zone until the served ball has passed the short line. Stepping on the line is allowed. Violations are called "foot faults". During the serve, the server's partner is required to stand within the service box with his back against the wall and both feet on the floor until the ball passes the short line. Failure to take this position during a serve is a foot fault. If, while in legal position, a player is hit by a served ball on the fly, it is a dead ball giving the server another serve. If hit by the serve when out of the box, it is a serve-out. A ball passing behind a player legally in the box is a hinder. A dead ball serve does not eliminate a previous fault on that particular serve.

Rule 4.3 method of serving - the ball must be dropped to the floor within the service zone and struck with the paddle on the first bounce, hitting the front wall first and rebounding back of the short line, either with or without touching one side wall.

Rule 4.4 service in doubles - in doubles the side starting the game is allowed only one serve-out. Thereafter, in that game, both players on each side are permitted to serve until a serve-out occurs. The service order established at the beginning of each game must be followed throughout that game. Servers do not have to alternate serves to their opponents. Serving out of order or the same player serving both serves is a serve-out.

serve regulations continued

Rule 4.5 readiness for serve - the ball shall not be served until the opponent is ready. The server is required to put the ball into play within 10 seconds after the referee calls the score. Failure to do so results in a serve-out.

Rule 4.6 illegal serves - the serve is lost if two illegal serves are made in succession. An illegal serve cannot be played. The following are illegal serves:

  • short serve - a served ball which hits the floor before crossing the short line
  • long serve - a served ball rebounding from the front wall to the back wall before hitting the floor
  • ceiling serve - a served ball rebounding from the front wall and hitting the ceiling before hitting the floor
  • two side serve - a served ball rebounding from the front wall and hitting both side walls before hitting the floor
  • out of court serve - a served ball going out of the court
  • mask (screen) serve - a served ball which after hitting the front wall passes the server 17 inches or closer.

Rule v Playing Regulations

Rule 5.1 return of service - the receiver(s) must remain behind the receiving lines (5 ft. Behind the short line) until the ball crosses the short line. A legally served ball must be returned on the fly or after the first bounce to the front wall either directly or after touching the side wall(s), ceiling, or back wall. A return touching the front wall and floor simultaneously is not a good return. Failure to legally return the service results in a point for the server.

Rule 5.2 dead ball hinders - dead ball hinders result in the rally being replayed.

in doubles, both players on a side are entitled to a fair and unobstructed chance at the ball. It is not a hinder when a player hinders his/her partner. Other interference - any unintentional interference which prevents an opponent from having a fair chance to see or return the ball.

Rule 5.3 avoidable hinders - an avoidable hinder results in an "out" or a point depending upon whether the offender was serving or receiving. An avoidable hinder is defined as:

  • failure to move. Does not move sufficiently to allow opponent's shot.
  • moving into the ball. Moves in the way and is struck by the ball just played by the opponent.
  • blocking. A player moves into a position to block an opponent's shot.
  • pushing. Deliberately pushing or shoving an opponent during a rally.

Rule 5.4 wet ball - on the service and during play, the ball and the paddle must be dry.

Rule 5.5 replay of point play shall stop and the point shall be replayed when: a) any foreign object enters the court or b) there is some other type of outside interference.

Rule 5.6 broken ball or equipment - if a ball breaks during play, the rally is replayed. If a player breaks a paddle, loses a shoe, or other equipment, time should not be called until after the point has been decided, provided the paddle and/or equipment does not strike an opponent or interfere with ensuing play.

Rule 5.7 rest periods between games - a two-minute rest period is allowed between games one and two. A ten-minute period is allowed between the second and third game during which time players are allowed to leave the court.

Rule 5.8 time outs - play shall be continuous from the first serve of each game until the game is concluded. The exception being that during a game each player in singles, or each side in doubles - either during serving or receiving - may request a time-out not to exceed thirty seconds during which time all players must remain on the court. No more than two time-outs per game shall be allowed each player in singles or each team in doubles. Deliberate delay shall result in a point or side-out against the offender.

Rule 5.9 safety - the safety thong must be around the wrist at all times. The paddle may not be switched from one hand to the other. Both hands on the paddle together may be used in striking the ball.

Rule 5.10 injuries - in a match, play may be suspended for up to 15-minutes for an injury. If the injured player is unable to continue, the match is forfeited. If the match is resumed and must then be stopped again for the same player, the match is forfeited.

Rule vi Officiating

Rule 6.1 tournament officials - when requested, tournament matches will be conducted with a referee.

Rule 6.2 the referee - the referee's pre-game duties:

  1. Brief all players and officials on the Rules and local playing regulations
  2. Check the playing area for suitability for play
  3. Check the playing equipment and uniform of players and approve same
  4. Check availability of other necessary equipment such as extra balls, towels, scorecards, pencil
  5. Introduce players, toss coin for choice of serving or receiving

Rule 6.3 referee's position - whenever possible, the referee shall take a position in center and above the back wall of court.

Rule 6.4 game duties - during a match the referee shall decide on all questions that arise in accordance with the Rules. The referee is responsible for the entire conduct of the match including:

  1. Legality of the serve and its return
  2. Calling of dead ball hinders, avoidable hinders and faults
  3. Preventing any unnecessary delay during match
  4. Announcing when a point is made or server is out
  5. Calling the score - prior to each serve the referee should call the score giving the server's score first
  6. Calling for a forfeit of the match

Rule 6.5 match forfeited - matches may be forfeited when:

  1. a player refuses to abide by the referee's decision
  2. a player fails to appear for a scheduled contest within 15 minutes
  3. a player is unable to continue play for physical reasons

Rule 6.6 final decisions - the decision of the referee is final

Rule 6.7 final score - the referee shall approve the final score after announcing the name of the winner of the match and the scores of all games played. The referee will immediately inform the tournament desk of the results of the match.

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