What is the difference between a hinder vs a distraction in pickleball?
Do we replay the point? Is it a default?
Can I call a distraction on my opponent if there’s no ref?
What is a Hinder in pickleball?
Overall, a hinder is typically something that physically impacts a player on the court.
According to the 2023 USA Pickleball Official Rules:
3.A.15. Hinder – Any transient element or occurrence not caused by a player that adversely impacts play, not including permanent objects.
Examples include, but are not limited to, balls, flying insects, foreign material, players or officials on another court that, in the opinion of the referee, impacted a player’s ability to make a play on the ball.
8.C. A hinder called by the referee or player will result in a dead ball.
The referee will determine if the hinder called by the player was valid.
A valid hinder will result in a replay.
What is a Distraction in Pickleball?
A distraction, unlike a hinder, is something a player does on the court that distracts their opponent.
A valid distraction, also unlike a hinder, will result in a fault against the offending team.
If you watch MLP (Major League Pickleball), you probably know of the distraction called on Big Papa Jimmy Ignatowich for the “stomp heard around the world” when he heavily split-stepped on the court.
3.A.6. Distraction – Physical actions by a player that are ‘not common to the game’ that, in the judgment of the referee, may interfere with the opponent’s ability or concentration to hit the ball.
Examples include, but are not limited to, making loud noises, stomping feet, waving the paddle in a distracting manner or otherwise interfering with the opponent’s concentration or ability to hit the ball.
11.J. Distractions. Players may not distract an opponent when the opponent is about to play the ball. If in the judgment of the referee a distraction has occurred, the referee shall immediately call a fault on the offending team.
Partner communication is not a distraction, but if your opponent talks/yells to you just before you are attempting to hit the ball, it’s a distraction and a fault.
8.E. Other than non-volley zone violations, a fault may only be committed when the ball is live.
The penalty for a fault (other than non-volley zone faults) is normally enforced the moment it is identified (e.g., distractions, double bounces, etc.) but may also be enforced any time before the next serve occurs
What do you do when someone distracts you?
If someone distracts your during a pickleball game, here are some tips and guidelines:
Obviously when a referee isn’t there to call a distraction and you are playing rec games, distraction and hinders are called based on players’ consensus, which is based on common sense and sportsmanship.
The “bam” I put in the illustration above is something an opponent actually once yelled at me just before I was about to hit the ball from the kitchen line knowing I would probably smash it on him. He tried to elicit an error from me, but it didn’t work and we won the point. Otherwise, I had a legitimate argument for a distraction call.
Hinder usually ends up with a replay.
Distraction leads to a fault called on the offending team.
Have you had an opponent try to distract you on purpose? Tell us about it in the comments below.