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Pickleball is the only sport where you can get penalized for ‘aggressive stepping’

What the heck is this rule?

Pickleball. It’s everywhere. Just this week I got a letter in my mailbox from the city saying they were taking some of the few public tennis courts in town and converting them into Pickleball courts.

Withe the proliferation of the sport we’re all learning about some of its idiosyncrasies — like “aggressive stepping.”

James Ignatowich, former Vanderbilt tennis player-turned Pickleball megastar was given a “hinderance” call over the weekend for an “aggressive split step.” Now, this all sounds ridiculous — and it’s because it is, but let’s define the terms here and circle back to what happened here.

  • Hinderance: A subjective rule enforced by umpires designed to determine if something outside the scope of the game impacted its play. For example, shouting or waving arms could be considered a hinderance, and results in a loss of point.
  • Split step: A fancy Pickleball term that’s a simple part of tennis. This basically refers to squaring up your stance with both feet roughly shoulder width apart to have a stable base from which you can react quickly in either direction.

So, essentially Ignatowich was hit with a hinderance call because the umpire believed his split step was loud and “aggressive,” which could have thrown off his opponent — similar to someone shouting or clapping their hands.

I know everyone is Pickleball obsessed right now, but for the sake of the sport y’all need to fix dumb stuff like this to be taken seriously.